Nearly a year ago, Bontle Moeng took the plunge and quit her job as a tech journalist to enter the cutthroat web-based news publishing industry, where young black women like her are still very much in the minority.
The 36-year-old journalism school graduate, born and raised in the sprawling township of Soweto, sometimes has moments of panic at her audacity but relishes the challenge of offering platform where young African entrepreneurs can tell their own stories.
What started as a blog that Moeng created in 2010 to pass the time after work, has now evolved into an online publishing site she runs from ‘22 On Sloane’, a hub for young start-up companies which has given her the wings to take off and pursue a dream she harboured for years.
“I used to update it every evening and at weekends,” she said of the blog, in which she wrote tech-based articles, drawing from her experiences as a journalist and marketing executive for organisations such ITWeb, IT News Africa and Big Media, where she helped create the first City of Johannesburg website.
“In 2015 I noticed that the blog was getting traction. There were a lot of readers logging into the site and I decided to turn it into a news site instead of purely a blog,” said Moeng, who gave the web publication the name Biznis Africa, same as the original blog.
The news site does what the name suggests – Moeng writes and publishes stories about people on the African continent trying to make it on their own in the technology, energy and mining sectors, but too small to attract the attention of mainstream media.
“There are not enough women, especially black women that own publications on the continent,” Moeng told the African News Agency in an interview.
“I felt it was time that we started telling our own stories and pushing for our own content to be recognised and for people to really get to know what we’re all about and not wait for multinational companies to come to the continent and tell our stories.”
“Everyday there’s always fascinating stories on the continent, whether it relates to technology, energy or mining,” she added.
“Those are the three industries I’m primarily focused on because I firmly believe that if those industries keep growing, that will ease unemployment and help the continent grow.”
At her premises on ‘22 On Sloan’ in the northern Johannesburg suburb of Bryanston, Moeng has access to a network of other young entrepreneurs she can share experiences with, as well as mentors who have helped her craft a business model to generate much-needed revenue.
For now, Biznis Africa is currently mostly a one-woman show, with Moeng writing most of the content for the website herself, with contributions once in a while from freelancers.
“My primary focus is to make sure that I get a proper revenue system so that I can try and get the best journalists,” said Moeng, who sometimes writes promotional material for bigger, established companies to supplement her income.
Not having a regular salary can be unsettling sometimes, says the young entrepreneur, who quit her full-time journalism job nearly a year ago.
“I do get moments of panic, but you can’t let fear overcome you; you have to always focus on your goal,” she says.
“The bigger goal was not only to create a legacy for myself but also to create jobs because everyone keeps talking about how there’s not enough jobs in the country.”
“If people can be innovative and start bringing ideas without being fearful about it, you can create a better generation not only in South Africa but throughout the continent.”
Moeng draws her inspiration from South African media mogul Khanyi Dhlomo, herself a former journalist who has distinguished herself as one of only a handful of black female publishers on the continent.
“I was very lucky that when I finished my journalism studies I actually was an intern at True Love magazine at the time she was editor.,” Moeng says.
“I love her confidence. She’s the kind of person that planned her life and its working out,” she adds, vowing that that will be her, one day.
– African News Agency (ANA), Editing by Stella Mapenzauswa