Rosie Motene: Business is not a walk in the park


Rosie Motene is a Pan African Media proprietor, who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Dramatic Arts (Honours) from the University of the Witwatersrand. Rosie operates as an author, speaker, feminist/activist, voice over artist and a Pan African entertainment manager and production consultant. Her career has extend for over 25 years and she has been credited as an award-winning actor, TV and radio presenter, TV and film producer. She has also excelled as an author, global emcee, and speaker; voice-over artist. Rosie is an accredited international laughter coach. Rosie is driven by her three passions: Womxn, Africa, and the arts. In this interview with, she talks about the challenges of running a business as a woman in the entertainment industry.

The Disruptors: What excites you about this entrepreneurial journey?
Rosie Motene: Lol, its an incredibly scary journey but what keeps me focused is that I have urgency over my work and input.

The Disruptors:  Are there specific advantages, disadvantages to being a women business owner?
Rosie Motene: I have been blessed with the most phenomenal mentors and leaders, and I have learned tremendously from the wrong and toxic type of leadership. As women, we deserve equal rights. That does not mean we try to be like men. It means that I have the intelligence and capacity to do what I set my mind to do. One of my mentors told me that I should understand and know my feminine power as it's my secret weapon. I have learned that leading is not about dominating my team but looking for the best potential in them. When things get tough, I take control but when we enjoy successes we enjoy it together. 

The Disruptors: How has starting your business helped you to live out your purpose?
Rosie Motene: I have combined my passion with nearly three decades of experience. My talent agency was formed whilst I was working on Studio 53 and I got to travel the continent. I saw a gap for talent representation and I took it. It was and still is a difficult market to work in. Firstly, entertainment and talent across Africa are still not considered proper professions. Secondly, the industry is dominated by men and thirdly, when I started, not many single entrepreneurs were tackling the rest of Africa. If I was not determined and passionate about what I do, I would have given up. 
In terms of my activism, I trained through POWA over 17 years ago and I used my brand to create awareness on abuse by talking about my personal experiences. Since then I have worked extensively with many NGOs. I have sat on boards and ran with a lot of campaigns. I resigned from the POWA board in 2019 to focus on my radical activism. I use my writing as an outlet to talk about issues on the continent through my blog.

The Disruptors: Even though you had previous experience in entertainment industry, what were challenges you faced starting Waka Agency?
Rosie Motene: As women, we have to constantly prove ourselves and our worth, it's even worse when you are a black woman.
We still live in a patriarchal world and the entertainment industry is just as toxic. So we need to be on guard, choose our partners wisely and understand the power of our voice as many will try to silence our efforts and make us believe that we are inadequate because we are women.
As women, we can multi-task, we have a strong sense of intuition that we must use.

The Disruptors: After all this success, what do you struggle with now?
Rosie Motene: Business is not a walk in the park. We have issues of not having funding to working with clients who pay us late because we are small companies. Sexism is real. I have been locked out of many meetings or projects that were led by the boys club. This has pushed me to work even harder.

The Disruptors: What have you learned about leadership, entrepreneurship and mentoring others?
Rosie Motene: I have been blessed with the most phenomenal mentors and leaders, and I have learned tremendously from the wrong and toxic type of leadership. As women, we deserve equal rights and that does not mean trying to be like men, it means that I have the intelligence and capacity to do what I set my mind to do. One of my mentors told me that I should understand and know my feminine power as it's my secret weapon. I have learned that leading is not about dominating your team but looking for the best in them. When things get tough, I take full responsibility. And when we experience success, we enjoy it together.

The Disruptors: What do you find most helpful about a using social media in terms of marketing your business and growing it?
Rosie Motene: It is the best tool. In 2016, I made the strategic decision to move to Uganda and live there. I was head of productions programming and acquisitions for a big TV network. Whilst heading my department I could then learn and understand how eats African corporate and
entertainment work as well as how different marketing and social media skills are. Different territories use different platforms, at different times of the day. So for example, if I need to tap into the Uganda youth market, I would use Twitter and Facebook, during the time 06h00 to 9h00 or after 17h00 as that is when they are travelling to school or university and are on their mobile phones.
LinkedIn has been an amazing tool, it took me a few years to navigate it but now I have increased
my business revenue by at least 25% purely from my LinkedIn contacts.

The Disruptors:  What skills were you able to bring over from your previous work experience that you found to be most helpful or practical in your business?
Rosie Motene: Everything. Waka talent agency is a Pan African talent agency and we manage talent in the form of TV & radio personalities, actors, speakers, and emcees. These are all areas that I have excelled at in my career. That is why I do not manage the careers of models and musicians as I have never worked in that space.


The Disruptors: With the current economy in a slump, what cost saving tips would you have for a new entrepreneur?
Rosie Motene: Cut down on overheads. I have an office which is in a co-working space. If I know I will be traveling, I have the advantage of lowering my rental space so it's cost-effective. 
Do your research thoroughly. If you do not have a budget for a PR and marketing team, do the work yourself. 
The last few years have been rough for us, so I took it upon myself to learn how to upload to our website. I wake up at 5 am every morning, and by 7 am I’m on social media looking for contacts and networking opportunities. I usually spend at least 2/3 hours in the morning then again at night. 

The Disruptors: What specific advice would you have for women who would like to become entrepreneurs?
Rosie Motene: What are your reasons for being an entrepreneur? You need to know your path. As I mentioned above, we have to constantly prove ourselves, especially as black women. So when the doubts, questions and sabotages come along, you are ready for them. 
Before you embark on your own business, make sure you have reserves for at least six months. If you need to save costs, move back home or lower your social lifestyle, it's worth it. 
Entrepreneurship is not about looking cute with your laptop at a coffee shop, it's always about being on the hustle, seeking new opportunities and putting in the work.
Choose your partners wisely and live by integrity. For example, last year I dissevered one of my talents because he had beaten and raped his girlfriend. He confirmed it and I immediately canceled his contract even though we were about to sign a huge international contract that would have brought in revenue to the agency. I did not want that tainted money and energy in my space. 
Never stop learning and studying. The internet is there. Choose your mentors wisely.

If you want to get in touch with Rosie, visit her personal website and the agency website is www.wakaagency.biz. You can also follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

0 Comments