It’s been a really big shift

Sihle Hlophe | Passion Seed Communications

When I was 21 years old and in film school, I started a production company with some classmates. We were so young and trying to find our feet, but it was a start. Needless to say, that production company was dissolved and, in 2014, I started Passion Seed Communications because I have always had the desire to provide a platform for people on the periphery of society, as well as a platform for minority languages. Building a production company on my own helped me to focus on these goals.

Even though I’d been to business school and had a diploma, I found that it still wasn’t enough. It was challenging to generate sales, to raise funding, to connect with corporates and to really get myself out there. I heard about Raizcorp on social media and joined the programme in 2017.

The programme has helped me to see myself as a business that make films, rather than a film maker who has a business. I’ve learned how to commercialise my products, and that I have to think like a business in order to help more people. It’s taken me from being a technician and manager to being an entrepreneur.

Since starting with Raizcorp, I have employed one staff member and one intern (before that, it was just me hiring independent contractors). It’s been a really big shift. We’ve also moved into an office (previously I was working out of my home).

One of our short films, Nomfundo, has been screened at prestigious film festivals as far afield as the USA, Finland, Australia, England, Ghana and Egypt. It recently won the “Best Cinematography” and “Best Editing” awards at the Ekurhuleni International Film Festival. Our documentary Lobola, A Bride’s True Price was nominated for a Development Award by the European Women Audio-Visual Network in Germany. It also won the “Most Outstanding Documentary Project” award at the Durban Film Mart in 2017 which was very validating. We’ve received commissions from the Foundation for Human Rights to produce live-event coverage DVDs, and have also done work for SABMiller. Currently, we’re developing a new docu-series and have just shot the pilot.

The best advice I could give any aspiring entrepreneur is that if you reach a point where you feel like you’re going to lose your mind, don’t give up. Push through.

I’d like to thank both Raizccorp and my corporate sponsor, UmAfrika, for the opportunity. Without the programme, I would not have been able to identify some of the problems that were impeding the growth of my business, and I wouldn’t be where I am now.