Ask anyone who has had the pleasure of engaging Nasiphi Fazi, managing director of Break Bread Group, and they will tell you she is one of the city’s brightest entrepreneurs. She may be a few years shy of 30, but her determination to succeed and empower others becomes evident as soon as she begins to talk.
Nasiphi, who was born and raised in Mthata in the Eastern Cape, studied Media Studies and Drama at the University of Cape Town. She had her first taste of marketing during a one-year graduate programme at Core Group in 2011. In October 2012, Nasiphi landed a job in UCT’s communications department as a media liaison intern.
“That’s where I developed a keen interest in media and public relations. One of the highlights of my stint at UCT was being part of the media liaison team that worked on former US president Barack Obama’s address at UCT in 2012,” she says.
Nasiphi worked at a public relations company for the next year before joining Shoprite in 2013. She worked her way up from being the social media community manager to handling all digital content management for the Shoprite brand. During this time, her partner, Thabiso Maphanga, founded Break Bread Group. The company, which specialises in township advertising and marketing, became operational in 2015.
A leap of faith
“I was very happy at Shoprite. In 2015, Thabiso left his job and started the business and I was helping him out part-time on social media. We’ve always been entrepreneurial and wanted to work for ourselves, but the fear of leaving your comfortable job and starting your business is always something that stops you from doing it. We started the business with one client that was paying us R5 200, so you can imagine it was difficult,” she says.
Nasiphi moved in and out of the business because of the fear of not having money. After three months of being back in the open job market, her company landed a really big client, which allowed her to take the leap again.
“I’ve been doing this full-time since October 2016. We have grown the business from one client to about seven clients. We now have six staff members, including ourselves. It’s been an incredible journey.”
While Nasiphi is thrilled about her company’s exponential growth and corporate culture, it is providing jobs that she is most proud of.
“I’m most proud of employing people and that we assist with unemployment. Our staff are black women who have been out of jobs for several months and really need the money and opportunity.
I’m also proud that we can step into boardrooms and convince clients that we are able to service their needs. It makes me happy because it tells the next black child, who never thought she’d own a business, that it is possible,” she says.
Last year, Nasiphi started a non-profit organisation, For Black Girls Fashion Trade (FBGFT) with two friends to assist with the education crisis in the country. “We wanted to assist black girls because they are one of the most marginalised groups of people. Not many girls have the opportunity to go to school and study,” says Nasiphi.
Currently, FBGFT collects and resells clothing donated by the public. A longer-term goal is to work with young designers to upscale and resell the clothes. “Another goal is to set up life-skills sessions for girls, and invite women who are out there doing great things to come and inspire these girls and talk about relevant issues that girls go through.”
But that’s not all that Nasiphi has been up to. She’s also involved in the Black Creatives Forum (BCF), which creates job, empowerment and networking opportunities for graduates and creative entrepreneurs.
Where does Nasiphi’s entrepreneurial spirit come from? “I don’t come from a family of entrepreneurs. I was the first person in my family to own a business. I’ve always loved leadership. I was a prefect at high school, part of a cell leadership group in church and involved in the humanities student council at university. I’ve always loved to lead and do my own thing, and be the creator of the ideas rather than the follower of things. I think it is innate. It’s who I am.”
The road ahead
“I’ve always wanted to have my own magazine, so publishing would be my next move,” Nasiphi says. “My advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to put the fear aside and just do it. Many people are taught you need a business plan and you have to put money aside. Often, people spend years doing that instead of actually getting into business. I’ve taken the leap, and I’m learning as I go. It’s tough sometimes, but I think you learn so much more from your own mistakes. One of the biggest lessons I learnt is that you can’t be working on your dreams between 5pm and midnight. You have to work on it 24/7. So, if you really want your own business, don’t hesitate. Just do it.