For any company, large or small, one of the most difficult aspects of operations is the recruitment of the right employees. Identifying qualities that fit with your company’s culture will ultimately help you make the best hiring decisions to move your company forward, recognising this challenge, Ishara set up My9Lives to bridge the gap between employers and the right employees.
In 2010, Ishara Maharaj, founder of My9Lives (PTY) Ltd had a micro-premature baby girl, this stalled her from continuing her career in corporate Human Resources but this gave her an opportunity to pursue and implement her academic research, she registered the company in 2014, but struggled with sales, being a lonely entrepreneur she began to reach out to business incubators and mentoring programmes including the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme. She had worked at various multi-national organisations within HR and corporate social investment. Her academic research into the meaning of work and meaning in life related to job satisfaction and commitment led her to design her first self-development course focused on goal-setting in 9 life categories called My9Lives. The business evolved over time from selling her facilitation skills and personal development courses, to creating an online profiling platform.
At the heart of My9Lives is the belief that self-awareness empowers. She felt that she needed to inspire change on a different level. With passion for spreading her knowledge and through the invaluable experience gained from working with young people, Ishara has taken her course material and transformed it for the online environment in the form of the MeQ personal development platform (www.my9lives.co.za). Focusing on the youth, Ishara is intent on introducing personal development content to students and scholars so that they may gain self-knowledge but also present their best selves for employment and career development purposes.
Rooted in positive psychology and based on research in career development and graduate recruitment, MeQ is envisaged as an online matchmaking platform that allows users to build a Personal Strengths Profile which can then be viewed on the platform. Organisations would also profile their company cultures, advertise their latest vacancies, and search user profiles for their recruitment needs. Ishara believes that personal development such as the discovery of key strengths and leadership skills, should be developed at a younger age to encourage people to seek out clarity and direction in their lives. Similarly, growing organisations that compete with larger corporates, struggle to fully articulate their company cultures to attract the right talent. MeQ company culture profiling will allow organisations to capture this information on the platform, so that when prospective employees search through company profiles, they will receive a comprehensive view of what it is like to work for an organisation.
In 2016 Ishara was selected from 45,000 applications to benefit from the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme. “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.
Committing to the online learning and mentoring platform enabled her benefit from great insights she says “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 the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme 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 can feel the difference it has brought to my work routine and I am even more motivated to get going on my sales and revenue generation. The best news is that I have landed my first long-term client. This will allow me to cover basic expenses which frees up my focus on boosting profits. I am grateful for the great start that the Tony Elumelu Foundation has given to me.”
Through appropriate research of the target market Ishara has been able to offer tools that help organisations find individuals that fit their culture profiles setting her apart from other organisations this in turn helps reduce youth unemployment which is a major problem, not only in South Africa, but across the African continent. Ishara is of the believe that the young people need more than the current education to excel in the world of work “I do believe that the education system does not fully prepare students and scholars for the world of work on a psycho-social level. Having knowledge of one’s strengths and values can do amazing things for self-confidence and self-belief for our young people, so that when they do step into their first interviews or first jobs, they are aware of how to effectively promote themselves or contribute to the workplace”
Ishara is relentless in her drive as she has taken further steps by marketing her service and product through social media and as well as networking at conferences and market-related events.
For future Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurs she says “Commit to the process if you are successfully enrolled, 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 TEF Entrepreneurs and tune in to the weekly webinars to stay up to date with TEF Entrepreneurs 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.”
To learn more about Ishara and My9Lives please visit http://www.my9lives.co.za/