Name: Ishara Maharaj
City, Country: Cape Town, South Africa
Website URL: http://www.my9lives.co.za/
A HR specialist with experience in positive psychology, Ishara has extensive experience in creating various leadership and self-development courses to meet the needs of different audiences such as emerging entrepreneurs in the technology arena, corporate organisations and non-profits. She took this knowledge and developed the My9Lives course which provides participants with a clear blueprint for all aspects of a holistic life. At the heart of My9Lives is the belief that self-awareness empowers. This course is based on goal-setting theory and ensures that individuals aspire to live more meaningful lives. It can be tailored to suit various audiences from individuals to corporate and non-profit organisations. My9Lives has led to the creation of other self-development courses ranging from personal branding, identifying leadership and stress management preferences as well as managing business goals through project management methodology.
Ishara is currently focused on developing My9Lives for Learners – an online application dedicated to personal development, education and career decision-making among youth. To this end, she is enrolled in two business incubator programs – Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program 2016 and Telkom Futuremakers Innotech Program 2016.
Ishara graduated with an MComm from UCT in Organisational Psychology in 2007 and has worked at a few large multinational companies where she recruited graduates and was involved in training & development and as well as mentoring. She developed a flair for workshop facilitation and design, particularly in the area of personal development.
When Ishara left corporate to look after her micro-premature baby girl in 2010, she designed My9Lives. She registered the company in 2014, but struggled with sales and being a lonely entrepreneur and began to reach out to business incubators and mentoring programmes.
“I applied to Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) in January and didn’t think much of the application (except that it was a long application and I didn’t have all the answers!). When I received the link to a YouTube video from the man himself, Tony Elumelu, I thought it might be a prank on me! I watched that congratulatory video over and over again. I double-checked and triple-checked the list of 1000 entrepreneurs to make sure my name was on the list for successful South African applicants. I remember tweeting my excitement and gratitude on the TEF Twitter account. And then I got stuck into the 12 weeks of online reading, researching and engagement on the TEEP platform. I found the online platform easy to navigate and the content was useful each week as I honed in on my target market, considered financial management, and created a board of directors. However, a lot of this information is future-based for My9Lives as I am essentially pre-revenue. Thanks to TEEP and the seed investment, I have been able to create marketing material to reach out to organisations in a more professional manner. The seed capital has also helped me to create a fully-fledged office space in my home, which I could not have afforded to renovate, had it not been for the cash injection. I may have started out pre-revenue, and still remain without my first client, but I am hopeful that with a working online product, it is only a matter of time before I can secure a steady stream of paying clients. Now that my building renovations are complete, and with three meetings under my belt for January, I can pick up the pace to hunt for more leads going forward. I am far more confident of my offering as a personal development practitioner and entrepreneur in a unique space.”
Ishara has some recommendations for future TEEP applicants: “Commit to the process if you are successfully enrolled onto TEEP 2017. It is best to keep up with each week’s commitments on the portal. Read your readings, ask questions of your mentors, seek information in your area, connect with other TEEPreneurs and tune in to the weekly webinars to stay up to date with TEEP news. You will be required to submit a comprehensive business plan before you can qualify for the seed capital, so take the time to research your industry and develop/hone your product or service as part of the journey.”