Marcia Monareng is no stranger to entrepreneurship. Her parents both have township businesses: her mother runs a kota shop and her father is a mechanic.
Monareng founded Millennial Mindset Media in 2017, and when in 2020, Marcia lost her job working at a start-up in Soshanguve, she focused all her energy in building her young media company. Her vision is to create inclusive spaces for black women creatives. She believes rising unemployment and lack of flexibility in the South African digital media sphere required a business model that would centre young creatives, without requiring extensive years of experience from them prior to giving them a job opportunity.
It is for this reason that Millennial Mindset Media works on a freelancer model – to promote flexibility, allow employees to work remotely, and to give young creatives an opportunity to gain the necessary experience needed to thrive in the media industry.
Born in Leachville, a township in the east of Johannesburg, Monareng is armed with a bachelor’s degree in media and psychology from the University of Witwatersrand. Here, she was awarded membership into the Golden Key Honour Society for being a part of the top 15% academic achievers in her faculty. In 2021 she received a certificate for User Interface (UI) design, a crucial aspect in customer retention and satisfaction. This has allowed her to learn more about the design and creativity aspect of marketing. Marcia is passionate about self-development and is constantly learning new skills that enable her to be a leader in her field.
Monareng is a finalist for Standard Bank’s Top Women Leaders (2023). And her agency recently won two South African Social Media Awards in the categories of Most Recognised Social Media Business and Social Media Brand Campaign of the Year (2022).
1. Why did you decide to branch out with your own business/venture, rather than work for other companies or corporates?
I was fortunate enough to be raised in an entrepreneurial environment, with my mother operating a thriving Kota shop and my father serving as a skilled mechanic. From a young age, I was determined to pursue a career in business, and after obtaining a degree in Media Studies, I established Millennial Mindset Media. Despite the venture being in its infancy, I soon realised that there was much I still needed to learn and thus elected to gain additional experience by working for several digital marketing start-ups. When the pandemic struck, I was unfortunately retrenched, but I saw this as a sign to refocus my efforts on the growth of my agency. This drive was further amplified by the unwavering support of my partner, who believed in my abilities and saw the potential for building a business that transcends my personal limitations.
2. Give us a brief history of your media venture? What gave you the idea? How did it begin, and how has your business journey unfolded?
The youth unemployment crisis in South Africa remains a persistent challenge, due in part to limited opportunities for young, educated, and skilled individuals who are often excluded from the workforce due to a “lack of experience”. In 2017, my colleague and I sought to address this issue by creating a platform that would empower young black creatives to participate in the digital economy.
Our organisation has since embraced a freelance approach, enabling us to collaborate with numerous talented individuals and provide them with vital industry exposure, adaptability, and artistic independence crucial for success in the digital world. This approach has aided in maintaining a substantial client base and earned us recognition through winning two awards at the South African Social Media Awards recently.
3. What challenges did you face as a media entrepreneur and how did you overcome them?
My biggest challenge in business has been working on the business instead of working in it. Having worked in the industry for years as a creative, I got used to doing the day-to-day work in the agency. Although this led to a great retention rate, the business struggled to scale. I overcame this by automating many of the small tasks, and hiring creatives to work on the day-to-day tasks so that I can focus on business growth and development.
4. How is the current load shedding nightmare affecting your business and what strategies have you employed to tackle the challenges?
Running a digital marketing agency means that you need to be online constantly. Load shedding has negatively affected my business as we had to spend on alternative power sources and we often get connectivity issues when trying to have online meetings with the team and clients.
5. Has there been a moment of success that has really stood out for you and that is your favourite on your journey? To what do you attribute your success?
The most noteworthy moment in my career has been winning two South African Social Media Awards in the categories of Most Recognised Social Media Business and Social Media Brand Campaign of the Year.
6. What characteristics do you think make a successful media entrepreneur?
Successful media entrepreneurs are adaptable. With the rapid pace of change in the media industry, it is important for a media entrepreneur to be flexible and able to quickly adjust to new technologies and trends. This not only helps them stay ahead of the competition, but also ensures that their business remains relevant and successful in a constantly evolving market. An adaptable media entrepreneur is always on the lookout for new opportunities and is able to pivot their strategy as needed to ensure their continued growth and success.
7. Your advice to young media entrepreneurs or those looking to start new media businesses
Building a successful media business is a challenging but rewarding journey that requires hard work, dedication, and perseverance. It is important to understand that success does not come overnight, and it may take time and effort to build a thriving media business. Despite setbacks and challenges along the way, it is crucial to remain focused and motivated, and to never give up on your vision. In order to achieve success, young media entrepreneurs must be prepared to put in the hard work, stay committed, and persevere even when things get tough. This requires a strong work ethic, a positive attitude, and a willingness to learn and grow as a business owner.
8. What, in your view, needs to happen to encourage more media entrepreneurs, and not just that, help them stay the course?
Over and above funding opportunities, media entrepreneurs need support in terms of gaining access to markets in and outside Africa. Although there are great initiatives by the government to maintain and build trade relations with other countries outside of South Africa – these often focus on industries such as agriculture, manufacturing, and energy. The digital era provides an opportunity for creative trade across borders. This needs to be systemised and supported by our government. I believe this will not only encourage more media entrepreneurs, but help them stay the course.
9. How do you ‘pay it forward’?
My passion for driving positive change has led to a partnership with Aga Sechaba Community Projects, an NPO that helps people, particularly the youth, tackle social ills such as drug addiction, gender-based violence and unemployment. The long-term goal is to help bridge the digital divide by helping underprivileged young people in the townships gain access to digital skills that can help them become active players in the digital economy.
10. What quote or passage do you think encapsulates you and your approach to business and success?
“When we go before Him, God will ask, ‘Where are your wounds?’ And we will say, ‘I have no wounds.’ And God will ask, ‘Was there nothing worth fighting for?’”
~ Allan Boesak