Nelisiwe Masango is a trader and entrepreneur. She believes in empowering people, especially women, to make sound financial decisions and invest in their financial independence. She has been listed as one of Entrepreneur Magazine’s Top Black African Women Entrepreneurs to Watch.
Here we take a closer look at her career and thoughts, as part of our series on inspirational women in trading and finance. Also in this series are articles on Jennifer Fan, Lucy Baldwin and Raghee Horner.
Nelisiwe Masango grew up in Boksburg, a suburb 30 km east of Johannesburg, South Africa, and attended Boksburg High School. There she enjoyed dance and considered becoming a neurosurgeon, but started developing an interest in the financial markets.
She started a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Entrepreneurial Management but left after one year.
She was hugely influenced by the film The Pursuit of Happyness, which is based on the true story of Chris Gardner, who became a brokerage owner and millionaire. She recalls how watching the film during her gap year in 2010, inspired her to promise to herself that one day she would own a brokerage firm of her own.
“After I left varsity, I started trading stocks, teaching myself how to trade on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. I must admit, the one major influence I got came from the movie 'The Pursuit of Happyness'. I watched that movie millions of times and the fact that it’s a true story motivated me more to start my own business and make a success of it.”
In September 2013, Masango founded Bear Run Investments, an investment training company set up to help train South Africans in financial literacy, budgeting and saving. At the time, she was the youngest owner of an accredited financial training institution in South Africa.
“I started Bear Run Investments because being a person of colour, we were never really given advice with regards to finances growing up. Finance was something that the parents dealt with. It wasn’t something that we were included in, and just from my personal experience, from what I saw with family members and friends, I just realised that there was a gap in our community.”
“We spend a significant amount of time working towards making money, and we do not focus enough of our attention on keeping that money... As a nation, we need to address these issues from within our households and communities.”
At around the same time, Nelisiwe Masango founded Fefine, which stands for 'females with finances' and promotes financial awareness and security amoung women and girls.
“Fefine aims to create a movement that breaks gender stereotypes and raises young, intellegent and financially secure women”.
She also started a recruitment agency, Gentle Hands Agency,
which helps people suffering from a lack of job opportunities.
In 2016, Nelisiwe Masango was listed as a Sowetan Top Young Boss. Then in 2017, she received the Frost & Sullivan African Growth Innovation & Leadership Award.
Masango is now CEO and Founder of Ubuntu Invest. The Nguni term ‘Ubuntu’ means ‘humanity’. It is sometimes translated as ‘I am because we are’.
Ubuntu Invest aims to provide clients with the means to live good lives, while pursuing its vision of creating 100 new millionaires in five years.
Nelisiwe Masango on altruism
“Wealthy people aren’t usually charitable and charitable people aren’t usually wealthy so I’m hoping to be able to do both.”
“Socioeconomic factors can inhibit the entrepreneurial spirit. Great entrepreneurs seek solutions that not only benefit themselves but could also help grow their own communities. My vision for South African entrepreneurs would be to stabilise the community in which we find ourselves.”
Nelisiwe Masango on female financial empowerment
“Women in particular should stay committed to becoming financially independent. It should simply be non-negotiable. In a male-dominated world, not only does money give you the freedom to live on your own terms, but it also brings a sense of pride and dignity.”
“There should not be anything that is allowed to hold a woman back from reaching her highest potential. Society often makes it seem as though motherhood, marriage and several other social norms contribute to the lack of ambition women are perceived to have, but that’s far from the truth. The true obstacles we face are self-doubt, lack of information and limited resources.”
Nelisiwe Masango on financial goals
“The best way to achieve any goal is to actually start. Create a plan, make the necessary sacrifices, and tell a friend so you can stay accountable and dedicated to your cause. The best way to achieve goals effectively is to start with the smaller ones and gradually progress. You are highly unlikely to become a millionaire overnight. Build your confidence and slowly grow into the mindset of being focused and goal driven.”