Q+A Session with Deidré Nxumalo-Freeman – Environmentalist and Waste Economy Pioneer
June 4, 2020
Current Consulting | Challenges faced by Women working from home during COVID-19
June 4, 2020

Q+A Session with Social Entrepreneur & Founder of FOONDA, Vuyo Pakade

Q&A By • Yanga Ziwele | BKCOB, with Vuyo Pakade

Q • WHO IS VUYO PAKADE?
I’m a 26-year-old from East London who was born in Johannesburg and grew up practically throughout South Africa. Raised by a single mom, we travelled a lot due to my mother pursuing her medical career and keeping me close to her. I then went on to study at Monash University and graduated in 2017 with my BusSci Degree specializing in Economics. When I first entered university, I had aspirations to become a CA but shortly after a holiday job at PwC, my passion of becoming an entrepreneur fast took over which led me to switching to Economics.

Q • AT WHAT POINT IN YOUR LIFE DID YOU DECIDE TO BE A SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR, AND HOW DID FOONDA COME ABOUT?
Weirdly enough, being a “social entrepreneur” was not a decision I made as I only learned of the term once my entrepreneurial journey had already begun. The Idea to start Foonda came from my reflection of the #FeesMustFall discussions and debates that highlighted the plight that existed in the Higher Education ecosystem. The crisis left wondering how these challenges could be addressed in order to build a more equitable share of learning opportunities. My mother was able to secure two scholarships over the course of her studies that would allow her to complete her degree and become a Doctor. This degree not only changed her life, but also those of her family, her community, mine. Through creating Foonda, I hope we’ll be able to bring scholarships to many other young people in need.

Q • WHAT DOES FOONDA ENTAIL, AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
The Foonda App is a tech platform that makes it easier for students to find and apply to scholarships, bursaries, learnerships and other sponsorship opportunities that they are eligible for through our smart matching technology which will match them to opportunities from across the globe. We recently put up our new website and will be launching our first EdTech product called the Foonda App which will be officially launched soon.

Q • YOU WERE INVOLVED IN DIAGEO’S #SOCIALTECH-STARTUPCHALLENGE, AND MADE THE TOP 5, WHAT WERE THE OUTCOMES OF BEING INVOLVED IN THAT?
We went on to pitch at the finals of the Social Tech StartUp Challenge in November and compete for our share of seed funding that was offered. We ended up placing runner-up of the competition out of the original 2400+ other participant’s and securing some funding. This is a testament to our vision of one day becoming the largest EdTech platform in Africa and our relentless pursuit of wanting to impact the many lives along the way. The competition contributed largely to our growth to date but this is only the beginning.

Q • WHAT CHALLENGES YOU HAVE FACED AS A YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR AND HOW HAVE YOU MANAGED TO OVERCOME?
Some of the challenges we have faced from taking this from concept stage to rollout are also some challenges I have faced as a Founder, but to list at least 3 of the many challenges we’ve faced along the way the 3 main challenges have been
Building a team. In the earlier phases of the business, you are the CEO, accountant, sales and marketing officer, and everything else in between. By bringing others in you are naturally drawn to wanting to micro-managing everyone, but trust becomes very important in overcoming that challenge.
Finding a balancing between work and rest is probably one of the biggest challenges especially right now during this lockdown period. The art of patience is usually overlooked by many StartUps and entrepreneurs, but it becomes imperative to remain patient and disciplined throughout the process.
Last but not least is fighting self-doubt, this may seem contradictory given that I consider myself a “big dreamer” but I am also a firm believer in the saying that “if your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough”.

Q • HOW MANY PEOPLE HAS THE APP ASSISTED, IF YOU ARE ABLE TO TELL?
Given that we are yet to officially launch our app to market yet, it’s premature to say however, in our initial demo version that we released for people to get a look and feel of what we intended to do with the developed app once the official version was released. In the 3 months this demo was active, we had over 800 users sign-up and take part.

Q • WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE FOONDA GO, IN TERMS OF GROWTH AND IMPACT?
A Our mission at Foonda goes beyond the App and beyond our country’s boarders, we want to revolutionise access to tertiary education across Africa. This pandemic has proven to us that there is a need to digitise tertiary education in a way that makes it more accessible to all. My team and I aim to one day make Foonda the largest Edu-Tech Start-up in Africa and to significantly contribute to many young African leaders to one day realise their dreams.

Q • JUNE IS YOUTH MONTH IN SA, WHAT MESSAGE WOULD YOU LIKE TO PUT ACROSS TO FELLOW YOUNG SOUTH AFRICANS?
Be teachable. Be disciplined. Be accountable. Make those the pillars of your life and add some belief in yourself and you’ll be destined to be unstoppable.