By Galoome Shopane

Community media that is based in rural areas is the life blood of communities whose stories would otherwise be left undocumented if it were not for the organisations that function in these communities.

But having seen the media landscape change and grow exponentially has in many ways also tied itself to the saying — the more things change the more they stay the same — unfortunately it is still urban stories that still take up the bulk of the headlines across mainstream media and this is still something that drives me to see my project through, and succeed. I have taken it upon myself to create a platform where rural communities can see themselves, express themselves, cultivate change in their communities and challenge power, boldly.

Before joining the Jamlab Accelerator Programme, all I had was just an idea, almost all of it in my head, with a few pointers on paper. But today, I cannot express into words the personal and business growth I have gained and experienced from my colleagues on the 2020 Jamlab Accelerator Programme. Albeit not void of challenges and detours — that is the beauty and thrill of life, this journey has really marked itself highly valuable in my life and business growth.

Looking back at the wealth of knowledge that I have gained from Jamlab is truly inspiring and empowering. I joined the programme knowing little to nothing about entrepreneurship, finance and all that business jargon, suffice to say, now there is light at the end of the tunnel. With so much information online, I now know where to look and how to build on what I gained from the programme.

Least to say that my experience with Jamlab including the Creating Media course from Wits University has played a role in me reshaping and refining what was just an idea into reality. The sessions I had with fellow cohort members where motivating and inspiring, for me to be able to share space and see other people pushing through with their ideas and visions did so much for me.

Many times, I honestly felt like giving up, as I felt that I was making little to no progress, because on numerous occasions I was failing to give weekly progressive reports to my colleagues. I had deadlines which I had set for myself, but was failing to meet them. Demotivation and anxiety had become compatriots many times and had the best of me, and not meeting my set goals for my organisation was wearing heavily and deeply on me.

But week in and week out I’d get a dose of motivation and insights on things that I can tackle bit-by-bit, thanks to Phillip Mogodi, the programmes manager and fellow cohort members.

I already knew that entrepreneurship is tough and laborious, and this journey has forced me to be realistic and frank about what I can achieve and learn. And I believe that the fruits of my labour will benefit rural communities and myself, that is my driving force. There’s more to us, we are not homogenous like any other community. I know that rural communities hold the power to their lives.

As person who resents public speaking, whose days are filled with anxiety — if I’m not anxious it’s not a normal day, I was thrust into the mix of having to stand up in front of people and say my say, that put me in a situation that propelled me to get over myself and rise beyond my fears.

Aiming to be part of a product that will play a role in propelling rural communities to using technologies and online platforms to receive their information and entertainment is both a challenge and an opportunity that as an organisation we are faced with, which makes it all the more exciting.

It is so important for me to see my project succeed because representation matters to all of us.

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