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"If you want to succeed you must laugh," says Innovator, Nwabisa Mayema.

When Nwabisa Mayema was in matric she participated in the Model United Nations competition in New York. 

The trip was life-changing: it got her thinking about the role that corporates can play in developing South African youth, and she met her future business partner. Eight years later she and Abdulla Verachia started The Collective Genius. The business consults to corporates on social responsibility projects aimed at students in high school and tertiary education. 

Its clients include Anglo American, the First Rand Foundation and government agencies who, with the help of The Collective Genius, reach over 100 000 students a year through leadership programmes and skills development. Mayema makes the most of every single opportunity to forge meaningful relationships.

As a participant in the Goldman Sachs 10 000 Women programme, she met her newest business partner, Nicola Stewart. At 34 years old, Mayema has now stepped down as managing director, of The Collective Genius to be a non-executive partner so she can focus on building its social enterprise, NNFinity. It provides social capital to female entrepreneurs.

“It’s now on me to unearth the next young woman who’s keen to take her business to the next level,” says Mayema. “Through collaboration and trade we will become forces to be reckoned with and build empires.”

Find Mayema on Twitter: @NwabisaMayema