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How Building A Youth Foundation Opened Doors For This Young SA Entrepreneur to Build a Successful Marketing Firm

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How Building A Youth Foundation Opened Doors For This Young SA Entrepreneur to Build a Successful Marketing Firm

Through this series dubbed, Daily Grind Founder360° CEO and Head of Content Vallency F. Otieno chats with Young Successful entrepreneurs and frontrunners on various topics including actionable steps on driving sales, exceptionable leadership strategies and staying afloat through the obstacles among others.

It was after establishing a foundation in 2012 that was involved in empowering the youth with leadership training, mentorship and bursary provisions, that Emmanuel Bonoko was able to kick start his dream of building a marketing and consulting company that would offer business strategy development, public relations, events management and brand management to both SME’s and large corporates.

Ebonoko Foundation was my first baby (company) when I was doing my first-year B.Com Degree majoring in marketing. It was a stepping stone to greater opportunities. The foundation over the years has done extremely well in empowering the youth across South Africa in education, mentorship, training and developing them to find their own passion.” says Emmanuel Bonoko.

Through his success and networks formed through the foundation, Sir Bonoko was able to establish Ebonoko Holdings which has over the years partnered and serviced some of the biggest corporates in South Africa including Eskom Foundation, Shanduka Investment group, Shell South Africa, Mogale city Municipality, Standard Bank, PBT Group, IDC, Nedbank and many more.

He has not only been awarded Forbes Africa 30 under 30 Entrepreneurs but he has been named KIA Young Business Achiever of the Year at the Big Time Strategic Group (BBQ Awards) in addition to being named as one of the 100 most Influential leaders in the world under 30 Real Leaders, a US-based publication.

While Emmanuel Bonoko counts success as being in a position to create employment for others and helping young people to access opportunities as the most rewarding thing to him above everything else, his journey has not been a rosy,

“I didn’t have an easy go in business, but I always had the support of my parents, who have since passed away, throughout my entrepreneurial journey. My mother, in particular, taught me the power of having encouraged to believe in my own greatness and achieve beyond any obstacles and limitation you may face in life.”

Emmanuel Bonoko shares insights on building a leading marketing firm in one of the most competitive markets in Africa.


What in particular drove you to venture into entrepreneurship / starting your own business/company?

My passion for business was ignited when I was almost finishing high school when I began attending a lot of seminars focusing on entrepreneurship and business development. These exposed me to the business world and well-established entrepreneurs who had made it against all odds.

I was then propelled to formalize EBonoko foundation with the aim of fostering entrepreneurship, leadership and education. We were able to donate bursaries to prospective students and also conducted a book drive initiative that saw over 17,000 books being donated to under-resourced schools, libraries, community centres and prisons. The illustrious work we did through the foundation eventually led to the formalization of EBonoko Holdings, a PR and Marketing company that specializes in corporate and individual PR, brand management, brand strategy, concept development and digital marketing 


What are some of the actionable steps one can use to make their personal and company profile be heard/known?

Delivery for me has to be at the pinnacle. Most young entrepreneurs are yearning for opportunities yet they fail to deliver on a task. When you deliver with excellence, your work will speak on your behalf.

Secondly, social media is gradually phasing out traditional marketing. It is very affordable to let your services known on social media and there are no limits to the number of people you can reach.

Thirdly, you have to be willing to always reinvent yourself and find new strategies and approaches to an old dream in order to realize it. One needs to move with socioeconomic trends that affect the whole world thus you’ll remain relevant to your market and maintain a competitive edge.

Last but not least, young entrepreneurs must always add value. Always go the extra mile and surpass the scope of work in your delivery. Going above and beyond for your clients always leads to referrals for your business. Nothing spreads faster than word of mouth, most especially one that comes from a trusted source. 

Read: After 10 years, She Finally Quit Her Job to Build One of Africa’s Leading Travel House

Sales is important for any business to thrive. What are some of the sales techniques /strategies do you use when hunting for new clients?

The power of Social Media: Social Media has opened many business deals for us and get new clients. We have also had great mentors who have opened great business opportunities for us and we just had to deliver with exception

Something important to note is that I have also learned the art of adding value and bring more on the table for our clients by:

  • Doing something incredibly useful.
  • Solving a problem that has yet to be solved.
  • Being accessible, approachable and helpful.
  • Teaching a new skill.
  • Allowing people to escape and forget their problems.


What kind of strategies do you use to move forward when you experience a setback? How do you stay afloat?

I never miss an opportunity to learn, each setback is packaged with a lesson. I am also very optimistic and believe that every setback is a setup for a comeback. The key thing is to never lose sight of why one started and the prospects of the future. That is the fuel that keeps the fire burning.


What do you think are some of the mistakes that young people do when they venture into entrepreneurship?

More often than not, young people make the mistake of thinking that entrepreneurship is easy. They never consider the amount of adversity that comes with the territory, hence most quit and lose hope in their beginning stages.

Some young entrepreneurs do not have the right attitude and character in place. Degrees and great business plans are all in vain if your character and values are not in place. Young entrepreneurs need to hone people skills because the greatest investment is in human capital, “I am because you are”.

They also make the mistake of thinking that they cannot operate without funding. They become so reliant on funding neglecting the fact that funders and investors can only invest in something that is already self-endorsed. Funding is not the solution, it is an enabler and accelerator of what was already moving. Resourcefulness is the ultimate resource, young people need to understand that.

 Above all, I think what kills most youth business is the urge of instant gratification. Young people lack a spirit of patience, the key is to build consistency and delayed gratification will always sustain one for a long time.

As a CEO with a team under you, what are some of the leadership blind spots you have faced and how do (did) you overcome them?

Some of the blind spots that I have had  included not trusting my team with their creativity and allowing them to explore their talents, I was also not open for collaborations and partnership with other SME’s, I was not appreciating small victories and success stories and lastly, I was expanding quickly and venturing out in many business interests. 

I overcame the above by learning the following:

  • Keep putting in more effort and learning from others.
  • Never be ashamed to struggle; there is absolutely nothing wrong with working hard to get where you want to be in life.
  • As a young entrepreneur, you must create a personal identity with which you will be identified.
  • Adapt to trends and brands in the market.
  • Arm yourself with education to cement your credibility.


How do you manage to keep being competitive in your industry (niche)?

Humility is very imperative, that way I’m always willing to learn and receive counsel from those around me. One thing I’ve always done exceptionally well in my business journey is collaborating with other entrepreneurs. When you collaborate with others, you get to learn new methods and you gain the capacity to do more as opposed to working alone. Collaboration allows you to leverage and tap into each other’s markets and networks. As a matter of fact, collaboration is the new innovation.

I’ve also created a personal identity with which I am identified within my industry. Being humble, ethical and caring are part of it

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CEO and Founder at Founder360° Magazine.

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