Chatting to Nafisa Poni Nassir-Deen
We chat business and awards with Nafisa Poni Nassir-Deen, the owner of Buka Publications.
You started Buka Publications in 2005. How did you get into publishing?
I have always had an interest in books and worked as a technical author in the UK so when I had an opportunity to set up my own business, publishing was a natural choice.
What were the biggest challenges you faced when you started?
Although the company was registered in 2005, we did not start operating in South Africa until 2010. The biggest challenge was finding clients during the World Cup year.
Your business is 100% women owned – do you think women face more challenges when starting their own business?
To a certain extent yes – people have a different attitude towards business women than towards men.
Are there any entrepreneur-orientated support structures that you used the services of when starting your business?
Yes, Gauteng Enterprise Propeller (GEP) assisted me with a business plan and I was able to benefit from FEMTECH, a six-month business support programme for women.
How is publishing in South Africa different from publishing in other countries?
I can only compare it to Ghana where I was a publisher before coming to SA. I would say the publishing industry in SA is a bigger and more developed industry.
You recently won the Apex Award. What did winning this award mean to you?
It means a lot to me – it’s a recognition of all the hard work I have put into growing my company over the last two years. The fact that it’s an international award affirms the world class quality of our work.
Where would you like see Buka Publications in the next couple of years?
I would like to grow my client base in corporate publishing and enter other areas of publishing.
Are you involved in any special projects?
An initiative that I’m very excited about is a collective of freelance creative professionals who are offering affordable marketing and communications services to small businesses. The SME sector is so important for creating jobs and growing the economy, yet most small businesses cannot afford to use mainstream marketing or advertising agencies to promote their businesses. I’m a member of an organised network of freelancers that offers a full range of services in this arena. Our network is called 10 Plus Media, because we all have more than ten years of experience in our respective fields.
We have a team of people who handle the sales, client services, quality standards and project management – and the dreaded admin – and we come together to work on projects as and when our expertise are needed. I believe it’s a cost-effective model for the future of services in South Africa, not only for SMEs but also for larger organisations as they look for greater returns on their marketing investment.
What advice would you give to other women looking to starting their own business?
You need determination, perseverance and strength of character even when times are very difficult you need to carry on. I would suggest identifying or having a source of income to support you in the early stages.