All4Women Entrepreneurs is a monthly feature where we put the spotlight on amazing female entrepreneurs starting businesses in South Africa. This month we spoke to Farah Fortune (who started communication and PR company, African Star Communications) to find out how she did it.

  • Entrepreneur: Farah Fortune
  • Company name: African Star Communications
  • Industry: Communications and Public Relations
  • Year started: 2008
  • Website: africanstar.co.za

We were scheduled to meet Farah Fortune at our offices for a morning interview to chat about how she started her communications company, African Star Communications, and what she’d learned along the way. But Murphy had other plans.

Farah needed to stay at home with her sick daughter, but she didn’t want to let us down either. Instead, we had an amazing telephonic interview, which was further testament to what we had read and seen about Farah – she is a woman with a plan and will always find a way to get things done.

She says the secret to her renowned success is a combination of faith, passion and hard work.

Related: All4Women entrepreneurs – Farah’s top tips for turning your job into a business

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From the ground up

Starting from the bottom isn’t just a saying for Farah. She literally started African Star Communications on the floor of her bedroom with only R1000 capital. Today the company is a sought-after communications agency with offices in South Africa and Nigeria.

“When I started out, I struggled to get funding, but I believed in my idea and I knew I could make it work. I had already been working in communications and had made a name for myself in the industry. All I needed was a laptop and my cell phone,” says Farah. Of course, the contacts she had nurtured while working in the industry were also vital to her new business.

Confidence is vital, but experience matters

Farah’s confidence is definitely one reason she has become so successful, but another she says, is experience. Having lived around the world (mostly in Europe) Farah has had her taste of the world’s cultures and as a student had her first entrepreneurial experience.

Farah’s first business was a cleaning service, servicing mainly office buildings in the UK. “I saw a gap in the market and women sitting at home who could fill it. I hired mostly women of retirement age who still wanted to work and facilitated the process of providing the service to the buildings and work to the women I was working with,” she explains.

She decided to dissolve the business to come home to South Africa, but Farah has no regrets about starting the business or shutting it down. “It was a great learning experience and served a purpose – it provided money for me and jobs for other women, but I knew it would end sometime because while everything worked well it was not what I was passionate about.”

Take time to learn

Before Farah started African Star Communications she worked in PR and communications for some very well-known companies.

“I’m glad for the experience I gained while working under someone else; it was an opportunity to build a reputation for myself and show what I have to offer, but I didn’t want to work for a boss my whole life,” says Farah.

Working for some of South Africa’s biggest communications brands, Farah realised that she wanted to change how things worked and the experience of working in the field for other women.

“Communications is still a male-dominated industry. Although you see many young black women who work in communications, the industry is lead mostly by white men. I wanted to change that and made a decision to empower other women in my own company. I only hire other women,” says Farah.

African Star Communications is an African success story  

Globalisation is not a myth – we share culture, entertainment, news and beliefs. Communications companies like African Star Communications drive this process, building the brands of public figures and entertainers and contributing to maintaining a specific image and communicating an effective message.

Farah’s offices are based in two of Africa’s strongest economic hubs, which are also the most culturally influential countries on the continent – South Africa and Nigeria.

Farah and her team’s work with artists and brands has certainly made a mark on the continent. Who could have thought you could achieve all this with R1000 on your bedroom floor?

Read the rest of our All4Women Entrepreneurs series here: