In August 2012, a group of friends gathered one night to have dinner and commiserate with one another over the struggles they were experiencing in their own endeavors. They offered each other insight and advice, hope, encouragement, constructive feedback, and held each other’s dreams in the sacred space they had created.
They agreed to meet again the following month, and the next month after that. And each time, their size grew, and the meetings took on greater relevance. By the end of the third meeting, they knew they were onto something meaningful. “I realized that this was not just for the average person,” Selebogo recalls, “but this was for entrepreneurs, because those were the majority of people that we attracted. So we started focusing and taking a targeted approach based on the needs of entrepreneurs.”
“I realized that this was not just for the average person,”Selebogo
Still, it took a good year of regular meetings before they developed a strong grasp of what exactly was happening – what this thing was and where it was going. In the meantime, they built a community of dreamers, doers and collaborators. They shared time, skills and resources with one another in an effort to build each other up and spur one another on. By the end of that first year, they had a movement on their hands – THUD was born.
From its organic roots planted six years ago, THUD has evolved into a powerful, international networking platform that gives black entrepreneurs all over South Africa and the continent the chance to connect, to learn and engage around business tips and strategies, to troubleshoot and problem solve, to nurture and grow businesses. Their slogan – Connect, Engage, Contribute—reflected this evolution and helped define their identity as a growing organization.
The monthly dinners still happen; they remain a signature feature of THUD – the gateway to all the good stuff. The original eight people grew to sometimes more than 300 on any given night, with ample opportunities to network and meet prospective partners and clients. The likes of Skinny Sbu Socks, The Lazy Makoti, Native Nosi, and a host of other successful ventures can attribute at least a part of their success to THUD’s support and network.
Through their boot camps, workshops, accelerator programs, and other interventions, THUD became the place to form business ideas, and a safe space to test them in front of peers and likeminded colleagues and receive constructive feedback.
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