Farah Fortune (supplied)
Farah Fortune (supplied)
  • African Star Communications founder Farah Fortune briefly stayed in her Nissan Micra to start a business.
  • Her company today counts rappers AKA and Cassper Nyovest, and presenter Liezel van der Westhuizen, among its clients.
  • She started her business out of necessity to pay for her daughter’s nursery fees.
  • For more stories, go to Business Insider South Africa.

Farah Fortune - a single mother who briefly stayed in her Nissan Micra to start a business - believes every entrepreneur is going to be broke for a while.

Fortune is the founder and CEO of African Star Communications, a public relations agency that counts rappers AKA and Cassper Nyovest, and presenter Liezel van der Westhuizen, among its notable clients.

In an interview with VIA (DStv channel 147)’s personal-finance show Geldhelde, Fortune explained the risk she took starting a business in 2008 with only R1,000 in the bank.  

“When I started the business, within the first year I couldn’t pay my rent and I always tell people, ‘You don’t know what broke is until they switch your electricity off,” Fortune said.

“They came to take the box out of my house because I couldn’t pay the electricity and I got kicked out of the place I was renting.”

“My mom was really, really worried about me starting a business and not having anything to fall back on.”

Fortune in her office (supplied)
Fortune in her office (supplied)

Today, 11 years later, Fortune says she is colloquially known as the “the pitbull in heels”, having expanded her business to Nigeria, Botswana, and Ghana.

There are two types of entrepreneurs, she said: the entrepreneur who starts a company out of necessity, and the one who spots an opportunity to make money.  

She was the necessity entrepreneur.

Also read: This South African became a self-made millionaire by 24. Here’s how.

“When I started this business I was a necessity entrepreneur. I was earning R12,000 a month from my job and I had to pay for my daughter’s nursery fees and my car and my rent and food and, and, and, and, and...”

“And that’s why I started the business: It was really to make sure I was able to write my own paycheque and give my daughter a life that I wanted her to have from opportunities I created.”

In 2011, she selected as a Mail & Guardian top 200 young South African, she was included in the Superbalist 100 list in 2016, and she was recently named Africa’s most influential women in media in the SADC region. 

Her advice to future entrepreneurs is to try and run a side-hustle alongside their nine-to-five jobs to measure market demand.

Also read: Ina Paarman started out in a garage. Here's how she became a household name.

Fortune also believes that a full-time career can be as fulfilling as becoming an entrepreneur.

“I was very delusional when I started this business, thinking I’m going to work at my own time and to dictate how much money I have and what I spend it on,” she said.

“I have learnt that being an entrepreneur doesn’t make you richer than somebody that works a nine-to-five. I know of my friends who worked nine-to-five jobs earned a lot more money than I did for a long time – and still do!”

Geldhelde airs every Tuesday at 20:30 on VIA (DStv channel 147), with repeats on Wednesdays at 08:30 and Sundays at 19:30.

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