You may know Fikile ‘Fix” Moeti, as the spirited half of one of 5FM’s most dynamic duos but she’s hung up her headphones on a successful radio career and is now channelling her energy into social entrepreneurship, education, and empowerment. We chat to her about life after radio and her latest project Affirmations For The African Child.
Fix’s energy is infectious and it’s really not hard to see how she stood out among thousands of applicants to win a nationwide competition to become an MTV Base presenter, making history in the process as the first female VJ on ‘MTV networks Africa’. That was in 2006 and from that moment to this one, Fix has fearlessly pursued her passions. One of those passions is of course social entrepreneurship.
You’ve had a very interesting childhood, tell us a little bit about your background and how your upbringing has shaped your life?
My upbringing was very much the typical African story where I was raised by my grandparents for the first two years of my life. My mother had me when she was very young and while she was present during this time, my grandparents took the lead. They were strong advocates for education and wanted to make sure my mother finished her schooling career and went on to university to get a degree.
Education was everything to my grandparents so much so that they made every effort to get their children to study outside of the country because they didn’t want them to be exposed to Bantu education. In order for me to get a good education, I was legally adopted by my mother’s older sister who was staying in England at the time. We eventually moved to Botswana, while my mother completed her studies in Lesotho.
The reason I tell this story is because it has had a huge impact on my life. Besides highlighting the importance of education and the great lengths my family has gone to make sure that we all get a good education, my backstory also highlights how critical narratives are formed in those early years.
As an African child you are sometimes passed on from one parent or caregiver to another and it gets a little bit overwhelming at times because you are always striving to be good enough. You’re constantly asking yourself “am I good enough” and so here I am constantly striving for success, constantly climbing the ladder and while it can be a good thing, it can also be bad because I never take the time to just stop and say this is peaceful, this is good enough.
You’ve worked hard to establish yourself as a social entrepreneur, through the development of The Fix Scholarship. How did the scholarship come about?
After six years in the entertainment industry, I went back to school, studying Small
Business/Entrepreneurship at both Columbia College Chicago and New York
University. When I came back home I continued my studies by enrolling at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) for the Social Entrepreneurship Certificate Program. The course was a life-changing course for me personally, I found my calling through the course and I wanted to provide that opportunity for others so after graduating I partnered with GIBS to start a foundation called the Fix Scholarship which offers this life-changing opportunity to South Africa's next social entrepreneur.
What impact are you hoping to create with the Fix Scholarship?
If you asked me this question 10 years ago I would’ve said it was to bring awareness to social entrepreneurship and the business model of social enterprises. Our focus was on giving women opportunities and teaching them that impact can equal income but I’ve since realised that we are doing so much more than that.
Through the scholarship, we have created this network of like-minded women that are supporting each whether it be through collaboration or knowledge sharing. We are so used to working in silos and now with this network of alumni, we can look at what we are trying to do and say we’re doing the same thing, lets share notes and see how we can move forward together because often the solution to our problems lies in working together.
Women of colour need to do this a whole lot more. We don’t come from generational wealth and businesses. We are starting this now and so we need to get better at communicating and sharing about our successes and failures so that we can overcome our challenges.
Speaking of challenges, as a woman of colour taking your seat at the table, what has been your experience so far?
As you climb the ladder and go after the things you want you often have to jump through hoops and you’re faced with so much bureaucratic red tape. What’s sad is that it’s not only from the men you encounter but from some women too. We are all competing for resources but it doesn’t mean that we can’t share information that can uplift the next person.
When it comes to looking for funding for The Fix Scholarship I can honestly say that it has been challenging because as a woman and a woman of colour, seed funding is not as accessible to us as it is for a male-run enterprise and the amounts of funding available to us don’t compare to that of our male counterparts.
One thing I always prided myself on was not using my contacts or my family’s contacts to get ahead but if there is one piece of advice I can offer women out there it’s to use your entire contact book whether they are family or not, use what you have available to you.
Through the Fix Scholarship, you have recently partnered with Diketo Inclusive Education to create Africa’s first inclusive affirmation cards for the African child, titled “Affirmations for the African Child”, where did this idea come from?
The Affirmations for the African Child project was inspired by a personal journey with my son. When he was 5 months old I had to make some difficult decisions to leave a very toxic situation and while I was going through my divorce and going to therapy I was so worried about my son. I kept asking how does a little mind get to understand something like this.
This got me thinking about childhood narratives and how they develop and how important it is to be transparent with the ‘true’ narrative going in your child early on. For me it was building confidence and self-esteem in my son and getting him to understand that no matter what situation you come from, no matter the colour of your skin or what uniqueness you might have you are loved.
Being a black or brown kid in this world is tough, being a kid who has a disability is tough, being a kid who is considered “different” in any way is tough and so these cards help children to always remember their own internal power because the characters on the cards are relatable and the messages are empowering.
Why do you think a project like this is so necessary at this time?
We are living in very challenging times. We don’t say nice things to ourselves, we are consistently belittling ourselves, judging ourselves, doubting ourselves and not giving ourselves room to make mistakes. As kids we’re always worried about disappointing our parents or those central caregivers in our lives, we strive to live up to those expectations and the moment we feel like we have disappointed them we feel unworthy.
When you combine this with the social pressure to fit in, it really starts to add up and so it’s important to lay the foundation at home and let your children know that they are loved, teach them how to love themselves and their uniqueness and how to love and appreciate the uniqueness in others. The more we start to say positive things about ourselves out loud the more we cancel out the negative self-talk and build up self-belief, we start to live those values, we start to manifest them.
Author: Liesl Frankson