Jacqueline Mahugu, Standard Group
What led you into journalism and what would you be doing if you weren’t a journalist?
I got into journalism because I always loved stories – reading and writing them – as evidenced by my decision to study English and Literature in university. So I chose a profession where I could go to work to do something I actually liked doing. It turned out to be a great decision as it really takes the edge off the Monday blues!
If I wasn’t a journalist though, I’d definitely be a musician. It was actually a tough decision choosing between the two careers because I loved both equally. So I had my cake and ate it too by making one a career and the other, a hobby.
African business has so much promise that you love to see it. You get to watch a lot of ideas and businesses come into fruition and thrive, many of which you know for sure will become a concrete part of Africa’s history when the story of Africa is told by future generations.
When you’re researching stories, what compels you to work on sharing a particular story with your audience? Any hot trends we should look out for in the coming months?
I’ve always wanted to make a difference in people’s lives, so the number one aspect I look at is: is this helpful? What potential does this have to really make a difference? It isn’t always obvious so sometimes it helps to look at the bigger picture and consider unique angles to the story. The biggest trends to look out for are definitely how Africa will cope with the recession, and in some countries like Kenya, how the upcoming presidential elections will impact that even further.
Why is African business so unique and what makes it so exciting to report on?
To me, what makes it unique is the fact that when you compare Africa to other continents, a lot of the industries in Africa are fledgling industries. Africa is just coming into its own in that sense, so there is always so much to look forward to. African business has so much promise that you love to see it. You get to watch a lot of ideas and businesses come into fruition and thrive, many of which you know for sure will become a concrete part of Africa’s history when the story of Africa is told by future generations. One advantage of other parts of the world having had a headstart over the continent is that some classic mistakes are avoided and tried and tested methods implemented quickly. Not to mention, African businesses are quite adept at coming up with business solutions unique to the African continent.
Africa has historically and continues to be underreported on, evidenced by the fact that a lot of global financial figures often leave out the continent entirely, which is ironic because so many global industries rely on African raw materials and resources to reach those figures.
Which sectors or industries do you like to cover most and why?
I love covering stories that touch on human interest. Stories that enable people to better understand the people or issues that they always see in the news. So while I don’t have favourite sectors or industries, you’ll find that I do a lot of personality profiles from a wide range of them, from manufacturing to the entertainment industry.
Why is it important that people around the world get to hear about young, growing companies on the continent?
Africa has historically and continues to be underreported on, evidenced by the fact that a lot of global financial figures often leave out the continent entirely, which is ironic because so many global industries rely on African raw materials and resources to reach those figures. The result is that many people miss out on amazing opportunities to collaborate for the world’s benefit, simply because they do not know the reality on the ground. It is also detrimental to the growing African companies themselves, which would benefit from having a wider reach, thereby uplifting the continent as a whole.
How can we encourage more people to join the journalism space and dedicate their energy to telling stories about African tech and business?
We can encourage them by continuing to tell stories about African tech and business, and also by showing the difference that those stories can make. People love an opportunity to feel like they are contributing to society, so we need to show them how they can do that when they join the profession. So show them what they stand to gain as individuals and how Africa in general stands to gain from their efforts.