With a doctorate’s degree in Juris Prudence from Columbia University School of Law and experience in global firms, Sharron defines working very hard and playing hard.
When she is not scheming about how to save the world, she enjoys reading about the global state of things. This Former Investment Banker and Wall Street Attorney turned serial Social Impact Entrepreneur is empowering Women and spotlighting impact across Africa.
Sharron McPherson’s entrepreneurial journey goes back to the mid ’90s when she started ISES, a successful non-profit organisation in New York City that helped local women from disadvantaged backgrounds start and run successful community based businesses. Her next company, the Women’s Enterprise Development Initiative (WEDI) grew out of ISES when she moved to South Africa and was encouraged by women in the United States to launch something similar.
Her passion she says remains community upliftment and investing in small and medium sized businesses has been her vehicle of choice for community transformation and this led her launch WEDI in 2007 in South Africa. In 2007, after just starting (WEDI), Sharron got reached out to for support by several young people, particularly young women who she said had amazing ideas but she could do little for them as WEDI was not positioned to help them because her target was growth SMEs in certain sectors.
These requests would go further to stir in her a desire to help these young innovators get noticed by the right people so they could gain support for their ideas and at this point Common Ground Productions was conceived as the vehicle to make this happen through a reality TV show she titled “BigIdeas.Africa”.
In 2015, Sharron applied to the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship programme with her venture “Common Ground Productions” with an aim to produce interactive, groundbreaking media that showcases the capacity of young African innovators to solve some of humanity’s biggest challenges. By focusing on African innovation and solutions to global problems, her idea will not only help to change the perception of Africa, but will also bring together innovators, investors, supporters and collaborators in a unique way that will enable young African social entrepreneurs to address some of humanity’s greatest challenges.
In her quest to change the world by providing a platform for young Africans, the TEF programme she says gave her a form of validation “I’d followed the results and didn’t see my name and thought, “Alas, I tried. Now back to the drawing board”. But then I got the email announcing I was included in the winners. I then got down on my knees (literally) and thanked God. I’ve spent most of my life investing in others. Finally, someone saw fit to invest in me. I’m also older than most applicants, I’m sure (my children are out of University). Friends encouraged me to apply because of the synergies between TEF programme and my media concept. But I thought I’d never make it because I believed I didn’t “fit” the profile.”
Like all other business persons, Sharron has also had her fair share of challenges notably finding an experienced media partner to help her produce a pilot being an innovative, interactive media concept that is unlike the average TV show but with the TEF platform, Sharron not only gets exposure that helps to attract the right partners, but the process she says forces her to focus and to recommit every day to making her dream come true. She remains reslute with a vision for Big Ideas. Africa to win an Emmy Award and become a global concept that supports young innovators from around the world to launch the big social impact ideas.
On her advice to other entrepreneurs, Sharron shares her recipe for success: “My success is based on a version of “P Soup” that I read many years ago in book called Acts of Faith by Iyanla Vanzant. The recipe is: Pray, Plan, Proceed, Pursue AND PERSIST! Starting with prayer is key. Clarity in vision and purpose is a necessary component of resilience. I get clear as to why I’m doing what I’m doing. You simply cannot fail using this recipe for success!