(Published - 22 May 2019)
Running a business while pursuing a university degree can be a mammoth task, but Gracious Baloi seems to have mastered it exceedingly well, and her business is growing in leaps and bounds.
Since last year, Baloi, a BA graduate at UWC who is currently pursuing her Bcom qualification on campus, has been operating BAP (Baloyi Art Production) and Digital Media, a 360 degrees media company which does everything from conceptualisation of ideas to production, brand management and public relations marketing. The company has on its books three artists, two of them UWC students, and employs two full-time students, with two others on board on internships.
Baloi explains that when she was doing her final BA year she also enrolled for an online diploma in media studies to try bringing the idea she has had since Grade 4 to life. “Studying that diploma made me realise that I’m generally creative and love conceptualising stuff. That was when I thought, I might actually be ready to start this.”
Since joining UWC, Baloi has always been part of the University sport set-up, first as a player for the women’s football team and then as it's manager. “I have learnt a lot of stuff from UWC Sport. Things like being patient, leadership skills, how to save money, how to use money and how to communicate with people. Those come in handy for the business I’m involved with.”
The Limpopo-born Baloi said she initially struggled securing funding and had to save from the money she earned at UWC sport to buy equipment.
She says her business is doing amazingly well and that a number of big names in the music industry are starting to recognise them and entrust them with their projects. “It was hard in the beginning, but right now I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Baloi has encouraged students aspiring to get into business to follow their dreams. “One thing I have realised is that you can’t sit on an idea and hope for the best. If you have something, go for it and you will find out along the way if it works or not. Also, people want to fund things that are already moving, not just ideas.”
She emphasised the importance of having role models and mentors. “I have someone who has made it big in the media industry - someone who owns a company with branches around Africa. And having a mentor is very important, too - having someone who is wiser and knows what is happening in the field, whom you can call and get advice from.”