Rapelang Rabana Explores How We Learn

Rapelang Rabana is inspired by her ability to turn her vision into a reality and as a woman in technology challenges us begin working on our dreams.

Its important to start with what little you have, from wherever you are, just as you are. The biggest mistake is to believe you need to wait for some other external event to occur before you can begin working on your dream. People wait for the time they have more money or get funding, or have enough experience, or enough confidence, or a partner. The key is just to start.

 

Rapelang Rabana founded Rekindle Learning, a learning technology company that focuses on how we learn. Rekindle Learning was profiled in the McKinsey report Lions go Digital as a ‘striking innovation’ in mobile learning and serves academic learning institutions and corporate training environments. 

What did you eat for breakfast?

Fruit Salad. Warm water with lots of lemons.

What’s your favorite sport or exercise?

Running and Pilates.

What inspired you to start your business? Where did you start and where are you now?

I love the process of creating things and making them a reality. So, what inspires me most is the extraordinary privilege of seeing something you have worked on manifested into reality, after it all started with just a thought. It always makes me smile, that all we had the beginning of our first company was a thought – and how incredibly powerful human thought, the imagination and discipline can be, when backed by persistence.

Rekindle Learning started on a blank page on my computer. I wrote about what I imagined and I have been spending the last two years trying to make it happen – first focusing on corporates and soon on educational institutions.

Its important to start with what little you have, from wherever you are, just as you are. The biggest mistake is to believe you need to wait for some other external event to occur before you can begin working on your dream. People wait for the time they have more money or get funding, or have enough experience, or enough confidence, or a partner. The key is just to start.

How large is your business?

Still in the very early stages! I have two full-time staff and bring in consultants on contract for particular projects. We have technology partners who we source our platform from, in Austria and South Africa. We have worked with companies in South Africa, as well as in Botswana and Kenya with our local partners.

What do you see as challenges for you and your business?

The challenges faced by every new startup are different but also much the same. You have a general idea of where you want to go and you have to take a number of small steps to refine the business idea and find a compelling value proposition that customers will pay for. It is particularly challenging because all you have is a hunch, an instinct that there may be something here and you have to keep going forward with little validation at the start until you make a series of breakthroughs.
In the process you need to identify what resources you need to make things happen in terms of time, effort and money, and think of smart ways to keep the resource requirement to a minimum while you are figuring things out. This requires you to do a lot of the work yourself and to identify strategic partnerships that can help you get going without laying out a lot of capital, and in the event that you need to raise funding, that is always a long and tricky road.

What about your business matters most deeply to you? How does it engage your values?

If the African continent is to have its turn as a global leader, we must be able to capture the demographic dividend by embedding knowledge, building skills and capacitating young people faster and better than we have ever done before. This is a challenge at the core of Africa’s socio-economic development and if I can play a role in that, I will gladly try.

What’s the best and the worst thing about being a female founder?

You can go out into the world and carve out new paths. The flip side is that along your journey, you have very few, if any, reference points of people like you, that you can relate to, that have walked that path.

What is the best advice you ever got, and from whom?

At a particularly stressful time in my first business, struggling to raise funding and running out of money, a mentor calmly said: You have time. It doesn’t feel like it, but you have time. Keep pushing. You have time.

What piece of advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

Trust yourself. Follow your instincts. Work hard.

Who is the entrepreneur you admire most right now? Why does s/he inspire you?

Elon Musk. His boldness is uncanny. His level of innovation completely disrupts and transforms industries on a structural level – and he does it in multiple industries at the same time. Most importantly, he realises that some of the most important work you can do in your lifetime, is to build a businesses that progresses humanity, not just line your pocket.

Connect with Rapelang Rabana of Rekindle Learning

Twitter: @rekindlelearn
Web: www.rekindlelearning.com

Want to learn more about women’s entrepreneurship in the Middle East and Gulf Coast States?

This content was curated through our partner Naseba and the 18th Annual Global Women in Leadership Forum.

 

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