Skopje, Macedonia

24-27 October 2019

For 3 intensive days, youth workers, social entrepreneurs and policy makers convened in Skopje, Macedonia, from 16 different countries, came together to discuss cross-sectoral collaboration in social entrepreneurship.

See conference programme here.

Belle and co.’s director, Belisa Rodrigues, was a panelist on the “Zero Poverty + Social Enterprise” session – see presentation here.

The title of the conference “DIVE 3: Zero to One > 1 to N”, refers to Peter Thiel’s premise, that doing something someone is already doing which takes us from 1 to n, is familiar. However, when you do something new, you go from 0 to 1 – this enables leaders to emerge with unique solutions and businesses to rise above competition. The DIVE 3, refers to the third edition of the EU Erasmus+ programme called “Dive into Social Entrepreneurship” started in 2017.

So the conference played around with this “zero” theme, to extend the conversation further around social innovation in a future “zero” world: zero poverty, zero unemployment and zero carbon emissions.

The conference programme was divided into morning sessions focusing on the local Macedonian context; and then the early afternoon sessions focused on international contexts; with the late afternoon/evening sessions focused on group work and policy recommendations borne out of the inspiring sessions that day.

Watch this space for the full report and outcomes of the conference.





DIVE 3: ZERO TO ONE >1 TO N, is capacity development programme supported by EU Erasmus+, focused on tackling youth unemployment through social entrepreneurship education involving 12 partner countries (Macedonia, Slovenia, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Poland, Italy, Portugal, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Peru and South Africa). It has been running for 3 years, and Belle and Co. has been a partner since its inception.

This year, the programme came to South Africa!

Belle and Co. was proud to be host to 12 countries (North Macedonia, Romania, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Poland, Greece, Portugal, Italy, Costa Rica, Peru, Nicaragua, South Africa) for a 5-day Social Enterprise Study Visit in Cape Town. The visits were curated to give a cross-sectoral look into the Social Enterprise ecosystem in Cape Town (public, private and third sector).

Day One saw us visiting the Industrial Development Corporation; Brownies & Downies; Spier Arts Academy, Scalabrini Refugee Centre; & One of Each (a creative social enterprise). We began to dive deeper into different business & impact models relating to a variety of social issues.

Day Two of the study visit brought us deeper insights on the working of Life Choices, youth development organisation assisting youth services on Family Stability; Health; Education and Leadership skills, to Innovation Edge, an innovation catalyst and social impact investor to affect meaningful change for young children; The Gangster Cafe a business with purpose for offering a positive alternative of turning ex-offenders lives around; to meeting with Social Enterprise Academy representative, a learning and development academy supporting personal and organisational learning to social entrepreneurs; to Our Workshop an open creative space for young artists in Langa, with professional development; and ended the day with participation at the Local meeting of Good Hope Subcouncil 16 of the Head of Local Councillors of City of Cape Town and Ward Committee members.

Day 3 saw us spend our time in Khayelitsha with a number of Social enterprises. We started off at Bandwidth Barn at Look Out Hill where we engaged with Wandisile and Cya, co-founders of 18 Gangster Museum and what drove them to pursue building this business; we met with Megan, cofounder of Early Bird Educare Social Enterprise; and headed off to Spinach King for some healthy lunch and smoothies; thereafter we met with the bubbly Zikhona founder of Street Side Bakeries making lactose free products; and then Ikofu Cafe hosted us for our bread-making workshop called Theatre of Crumbs, a methodology designed by Breadhouses Network Bulgaria. We were lucky to have the opportunity to bring two bakers from two continents together and to invite 11 other countries to share how to change the world for positive impact using bread as metaphor. And after a long and emotional immersive experience we spent the last 2 hours of our evening reflecting on our individual and shared experiences


Day 4 saw us visit our last site, this time we were invited by the leadership of the Occupied Woodstock Hospital aka Cissy Gool community. We were taken through a practical human solution as response to the lack of adequate affordable social housing in inner city of Cape Town. With some 1000 people in this space, a commons regulated by the commoners has emerged. What alternative models can we build in a post-Apartheid South Africa? How can people build their own solutions outside of the state machine? Cissy Gool house has done it.



The below image was created at the Bread Therapy Workshop which we held at Ikofu in Khayelitsha this week as part of the Social Enterprise Study Visit. Belle and co. forged a powerful collaboration between local social enterprise Streetside Bakery based in Khayelitsha and International Breadhouse Network (Social Bakery Bulgaria). This collaboration saw a group of 12 countries making and breaking bread together … literally and through the “Theatre of Crumbs” methodology, enabled us to imagine a more positive world.

No photo description available.

The Study Tour ended on a high note, where we had our final dinner at Africa Cafe and enjoyed the cultural experience of music, food and dance to end off the intense experience from the week.

Thank you goes to the Belle and Co. Associates who made this study tour programme possible through design and support on the ground. Special mention goes to Nthakoana Maema and Tauriq Jenkins who gave their time voluntarily to this endeavour.

Thank you also goes to the Youth Alliance Krusevo, the lead partner of the project consortium for their support in the logistics, preparations and administration of the study tour.

And thanks goes to EU Erasmus Plus Programme for the financial support to allow the participants the experience of exchange and learning.

Finally thank you to all the participants “Divers” who participated wholeheartedly with empathy and curiosity.


Life Choices Academy: Human-Centred Design Thinking Bootcamp by Belle and Co.

26-27 June; 3-4 July; 10-11 July 2019

Over the course of 3 weeks, 60 coding students of the Lifechoices Academy were exposed to Design-Thinking methodology, which enabled them to get out of the computer room and onto the streets to find out the needs, desires and challenges faced by ordinary people. Using design thinking principles, teams tackled some of the most intractable problems facing society such as Youth Unemployment, Public Transport, Homelessness and Education.

The intensive journey was designed and facilitated by Belisa Rodrigues of Belle and Co, which culminated in teams presenting their final prototype solution to Life Choices staff and students.

Here is a story board visually depicting the processes the teams went through from Inspiration > Ideation > Implementation:

Crowd-funding for your non-profit

Crowdfunding (CF) presentation, Thu 30 Aug 2018, AORTIC Secretariat (Mowbray, Cape Town)

On Thursday 30 August 2018, Belle & Co. Associate Alexandre Rodrigues presented a lecture on non-profit financing in South Africa, with a focus on crowdfunding.  Alex is a CAIA (Certified Alternative Investment Analyst) charter holder, and works as an investment principal at Edge Growth, an SME growth specialist and impact investor.

The presentation delivered by Alex covered the following topics:

  • What is crowdfunding?
  • How does crowdfunding work?
  • How do you put a campaign together?
  • What resources do you need?
  • What platforms can you use?
  • Q&A

The presentation lasted an hour and participants in attendance were mostly from cancer non-profit companies (NPCs) AORTIC and CANSA.  Only a few participants had had some exposure to crowdfunding, with one having run an entire campaign on rewards-based international CF platform Indiegogo (to raise funding for a music concert), another having used GivenGain (also a global CF platform, but charity-based) for on-going small donations (for their cancer related NPC) whilst the last person had mostly only heard of CF (in a corporate model run by a financial services firm, OUTvest by Outsurance – a way to crowdfund one’s investing goals).

Alex began the presentation by highlighting the main sectors that use crowdfunding (social causes at 30% followed by small businesses/ entrepreneurs at 17%, with creative industries in third place at 12%).  The various types of CF models were then briefly discussed (equity, rewards, charity and peer-to-peer/P2P lending) before the global stats on the quantum of financing raised via this mechanism were shown (over $50bn worldwide in 2016, with most devoted to P2P lending at over 75%).  SA examples of platforms offering the various CF models were presented (rewards-based: Thundafund, equity: UpRise.Africa, charity: Back-a-buddy and P2P: PeerFin/ Rainfin).

The presentation went on to describe the elements of successful campaigns (e.g. use of rich media like videos, short but punchy copy, tools to share the campaign on social media, deadlines on fundraising plus realistic targets, reaching the “tipping point” within the first 2/3 weeks etc), with a focus on South African rewards-based CF examples (mostly taken from SA CF platform Thundafund), including: Land for Lions, Siki’s Coffee Revolution and “Know Your Water”.

Alex then explained what factors to consider when choosing a CF platform for one’s campaign (fees, type of funding: all-or-nothing or keep what you raise, ability to use/ incorporate multimedia, social media sharing tools etc), before delving into the importance of defining what you need the funds for and why (clarity of purpose to engage your supporters).

The presenter then stressed the importance of having a (realistic) fundraising goal and ensuring that the campaign length is optimal (SA data on rewards-based CF campaigns show that the average successful campaign raises ~R25k over 9 weeks).

Alex then went on to explain how campaigns run by dynamic teams rather than just an individual generally outperform (mix of skills and broader networks), and how maintaining a budget for the project and campaign is key to avoid running out of cash during fundraising and execution of the project.

Towards the end of the presentation, Alex explained the significance of planning, especially during the critical times of one month prior to launch (ensuring the content is ready – rich media like photos and videos, plus copy for the story, milestones to report back to community on progress, thank you letters to donors/ supporters etc) as well as on the day (stressing the importance of being able to “launch in a day”, i.e. go all out during the 24 hours after the campaign goes live, sending links to the campaign via social media, emails and even considering a launch party to drum up excitement for the project).

Alex explained the significance of feeding back to the community throughout the campaign as an essential way to keep interest and momentum, i.e. maintaining the campaign, especially given the fact that up to 65% of the funds raised are done so in the first 2 and last 2 weeks (i.e. the importance of starting and ending strong) of a campaign.  It was noted that campaigns that didn’t get past the 30-40% fundraising mark in the first 2-3 weeks were unlikely to reach their goal by the end of the campaign.

Lastly, Alex walked the crowd through his experiences running his own charity-based CF campaign 5 years ago (in 2013) and what he did well (short, punchy copy; a thank you to donors) versus what he did poorly (lack of rich media, no updates to supporters etc).  The presentation ended with some general Q&A, during which participants asked questions such as: “what the best platform to raise charitable funding in SA was” (local platform vs international; answer: depends on if campaign could have global appeal or not, i.e. for cancer-related causes, either one could work), and “what a cancer NPC could use CF to raise funding for” (e.g. sending an underprivileged scientist to an international cancer conference; to pay for the publication/ printing of a cancer directory etc).

The group then broke for refreshments and general socializing, with catering provided for by AORTIC.






Mowbray Town Hall Talks II: Post-prison rehabilitative business

WEDNESDAY, 20TH DECEMBER 12:00 -15:00. Mowbray Town Hall Talks II, the second in a local talk series, was co-hosted by Ward 57 Representative from Mowbray (Ms Belisa Rodrigues) to convene a needed discussion about post-prison rehabilitative businesses that strive to change the narrative and stigma facing formerly incarcerated individuals.

This talk topic was inspired by a new local Mowbray-based cultural business called Mess Café under the banner of the Messenger Trust South Africa, which runs a coffee shop out of the Protestant Book Shop on Main Road. They use an innovative ‘employment-based model’ and only employ formerly incarcerated individuals to run various business initiatives and to change societal behavior.


60 locals from in and around Mowbray, Rosebank, Rondebosch, Observatory and beyond came together to meet the various entrepreneurs who are daring to challenge the status quo, to push South African society forward by building a more sustainable and healthy community through socially-conscious enterprise initiatives. Some attendees were former gang members curious to know how these businesses are facilitating understanding in this area.

Local entrepreneur speakers included:

  • WANDISILE NQEKETHO – 18 Gangster Museum (Khayelithsha)
  • MTHETHELELI NGXEKE – Gangstar Gear/Mess Cafe (Mowbray)
  • TAURIQ JENKINS – Shakespeare in Prison (Observatory)

 **And a special Shakespeare Performance was conducted over lunch**

The community issues tackled on the panel included:

  • Society’s responsibility with regards to reintegration of former convicts in the frame of the White Paper on Corrections in South Africa, Chapter 3 which states that “Correction is a societal responsibility” And 13.2 states clearly that “The Relationship between DCS and the community, community based organisations, NGOs and faith-based organisations are inherent to the successful achievement of the rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders” ;
  • Reimagining a new narrative for South Africa through business: ways of building business whilst tackling societal issues;
  • Touching on issues of ‘commodification of pain’ and empathy as well as mental health.

Deeply stimulating, provoking and captivated the audience for a 3 hour event during peak Christmas period was stunning!

About the Mowbray Town Hall Talk Series


A celebrated, culturally diverse, sustainable and safe community of Mowbray.


The Mowbray Town Hall Talk series aims to revitalise the community of Mowbray (enhance community safety, engage in critical discourse on community issues and foster a sense of togetherness) as well as encourage the use of its public facilities (Mowbray Town Hall, Mowbray Library, Parks, Rivers etc).

**Community events have proven effectiveness as described by “Broken Window Theory” of ensuring that a community that cares and knows one another is safer and better enabled to sustain themselves.


This series is supported by local and international institutions notably with financial contribution from the Cultural Entrepreneurship Hub programme supported by Goethe Institute and German Foreign Affairs Ministry; catering contribution from Shoprite; audio and visual equipment support from the Messenger Trust; various volunteers and community members of Mowbray.

Mowbray Town Hall Talk I: Collaborative Entrepreneurship

Mowbray, Cape Town: October 2017




17.30 -19.30

The Mowbray Townhall Talk Series aims to create a vibrant community hub of sharing, learning and interacting.

This month’s session will see prominent business people from the Somali Association, Jewish and Muslim communities among others, sharing best practice on entrepreneurship. How do you use your cultural capital to build your business whilst building your community?

Join us if you are a curious local entrepreneur!

ENQUIRIES: belisa@belleandco.co.za

This event is run by the Cape Town Chapter of Junior Chamber Initiative in partnership with Cultural Entrepreneurship Hub Cape Town, Belle and Co, Ward 57, Old Mowbray Cottages, RMCA, GSCID, Mowbray Library and community members.

“Collaborative Entrepreneurship” from a multi-cultural perspective.


*Siyabulela Sophi

Siyabulela Sophi is a visionary that overcame many obstacles to start a business that is a catalyst for change. Award winning Social Entrepreneur, originally from the Eastern Cape, Mr Sophi founded Makhaza Lifestyle Pty Ltd in 2013, a social enterprise specializing in project Mmnagement and clothing Mmnufacturing.

Sophi is one of the pioneers who founded the 1st Friday Conversations in Khayelitsha which aims to engage youth on a monthly basis on topics of interest to inspire, empower and encourage, among other things, youth entrepreneurship.

*Scott Roberts

Mr Roberts is the co-founder of Eden, a startup NGO which aims to increase young South African Entrepreneurs’ access to establish business networks by leveraging the Jewish Business community from within. He is past deputy Chairperson of the South African Union of Jewish Students UCT and has just retired from a long career in Habonim Dror, a progressive Jewish Youth Movement. He is passionate about finding new and inclusive avenues towards economic growth.

*Abdikadir Mohamed

Mr Mohamed, was born in Somalia, in a small town called Kismayo (a port city) and came to South Africa in 2002. He started operating small businesses in different townships across four provinces of South Africa. He joined the Somali Association of South Africa (SASA) in 2011 and held different positions, eventually becoming the Director of Western Cape. Most recently (2016), he was awarded a national award from the Department of Home Affairs in the field of Civil Society/NGO category called the “Mkhaya Migrants Award” which recognises outstanding achievements of foreigners toward the development of South Africa.

The SASA currently runs a programme called Business Skills Sharing Workshop where local business owners and potential entrepreneurs discuss issues related to business.

Somali Association of South Africa (SASA) and it is mission and vision are as follows:

Mission: promote the ethos of self-reliance and local integration.
Vision: Build unity among locals and refugees based on peace and tolerance.


Thank you to those who came to support our first Mowbray Town Hall Talk series “Collaborative Entrepreneurship”. Insights garnered from the Somali and Jewish communities were invaluable and inspired some to start thinking about their own self reliance and resilience. Thank you to all our local and international supporters.


Dive into SE: Cape Town Social Enterprise Study Tour

Cape Town, South Africa: September, 2017

A 5-day intensive Job Shadow/Study Tour in Cape Town, South Africa, as part of the Erasmus + supported programme “Dive in Social Entrepreneurship” was arranged by Belle and Co.

Belle and Co hosted 2 of its partners (Turkey and Bulgaria) to meet local government, entrepreneurs and academics working in the social entrepreneurship space in Cape Town.

Visits included: Local Ward 57 Councillor; Observatory Community Improvement District; Mess Cafe Social Enterprise; Gangstar Gear Social Enterprise; Spinach King Social Enterprise; 18 Gangster Museum Social Enterprise; PASSOP Refugee NPO; Know Thy Farmer Social Enterprise; UWC Entrepreneurship Centre; visits with local entrepreneurs and students as well as exposure to a range of local heritage day (27 September) activities.

Read Report here: SE Job Shadow Report


Belle and Co. awarded EU project on Social Entrepreneurship

Skopje, Macedonia: December, 2016

“Dive in Social Entrepreneurship” is a capacity building project financed by the EU under the Erasmus + programme, Capacity building in the field of youth, and it will be implemented within a period of 17 months and it will include partners coming from following countries: Macedonia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece, Romania, Brazil, South Africa and Costa Rica.

The project consists of capacity building activities (kick off seminar and local researches) and mobility activities (seminar, training courses, study visit and job shadowing). The activities will be based on variety of methods and techniques of non-formal education and they will support active role of the participants in the project activities. The activities will target various groups including young people and youth leaders, youth workers, program managers and project coordinators, representatives of institutions and local authorities.

2017 Activity plan:

FEB, Romania: Research Seminar on country comparative social entrepreneurship ecosystems

MARCH, Greece: Training on Social Entrepreneurship I

MAY, Turkey: Training on Social Entrepreneurship II

JUNE, Bulgaria: Study tour of Social Enterprises

SEPT, South Africa: Job Shadow of Social Enterprises

DEC, Macedonia: M& E and Close Off off

The key aim of the project is to provide a way for active development of human capital, practical encouragement of social entrepreneurial activities and establishment of effective pathways to youth employment in strategic cooperation with different stakeholders.

The project kickoff meeting was held in Macedonia in December 2016.

Co-Creating Mowbray

Mowbray Cape Town: April, 2016

Belle and Co. held its first public engagement with Mowbray residents to explore possible avenues of re-imagining Mowbray through place-making and co-creation. Residents shared previous visioning exercises such as “Magic Mowbray” and the GSCID’s “Mowbray as Learning District” concept. RMCA, Open Streets, Old Mowbray Cottages, CPF, GSCID and others, were in attendance. Thank you goes to Enock Nkomo for the use of his business premises on Mowbray Main Road.