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Heavy Chef Event: The New Workplace


Event Report: Why We Need To Rethink Community And Work Post-Pandemic

The way we work has steadily evolved over the past decade. With the rise of startup culture and the freedom to work from anywhere that has accompanied the trend, we’ve seen more and more employers doing away with the traditional concept of an office altogether, and leaning towards less costly but more effective and flexible workspaces. The pandemic has escalated this, with remote working becoming the norm and many of us seeking more purpose in the work we do and how we do it and taking active measures towards achieving that. 

Meanwhile, not all entrepreneurs are lucky enough to even have a space to call a workspace, a situation that has certainly worsened post-pandemic. Entrepreneurs in townships and other disconnected communities across the country continue to struggle to access even the bare minimum they require to make a success of their businesses, with high data costs and lack of support.

We're in dire need of a 'new workplace' - redefined, purpose-filled, inclusive and accessible. 

Heavy Chefs Selebogo Molefe and Paul Keursten are on a mission to fulfil this need by creating and nurturing empowering, inclusive communities that support the entrepreneurs of South Africa. The two community builders joined us at Workshop17 in Sandton last night for an intimate yet insightful session unpacking the intricacies of building effective, empowered communities post-pandemic. 

Paul Keursten is the CEO and Co-Founder of Workshop17, a co-working movement crowned the Best Co-working Space at the Global Startup Awards at the CTICC earlier this month. Paul and his team at Workshop17 are passionate about entrepreneurship and enabling learning amongst entrepreneurs (we have this in common!), making Paul precisely the right person to speak on the topic at hand.


"My background is in education and learning and development so for me, it's really about creating an environment where everyone can thrive," he said as the evening kicked off. "Everyone needs to play to their strengths - that's why I'm not doing what Lebo is doing. That his expertise, real knowledge and understanding."

Paul is using his expertise in education to create conducive environments for learning, mentorship and growth for startups and small businesses across the country. Not only does Workshop17 provide entrepreneurs with a comfortable, well-equipped space to work, but it also helps to grow the local entrepreneurial ecosystem by creating spaces where entrepreneurs can work productively and connect with other entrepreneurs. And the Heavy Chef community has continuously benefitted from Paul's generosity - our partnership with Workshop17 has provided us with gorgeous venues for our meetings, events and interviews, as well as helping us add extra value to our offering with discounts and perks for our members. 

Paul was joined on stage by Heavy Chef CEO Fred Roed, our usual MC with the most, and another groundbreaker in the entrepreneur empowerment space, Selebogo 'Dr Lifesgud' Molefe. Selebogo is the founder of Lifesgud Global Investments and a living legend to the many entrepreneurs he has helped through his various communities and platforms, which include  The Hook Up Dinner (THUD), Africa's fastest rising startup movement, and the People’s Fund, an asset-based crowdfunding platform that seeks to unlock capital growth constraints for startups in emerging markets. He's passionate about the township economy and the potential that cooperative economics has to empower disadvantaged entrepreneurs. 

"We shouldn't have a saviour complex when it comes to townships, villages and communities," he warned of anyone who wants to make an impact in these spaces. "People want a sense of dignity and self-respect - we just need to empower them with knowledge on how they can do things themselves. They will surprise you."

It was moments of resounding wisdom like this that had the audience calling for 'Selebogo for his president!' before the night was out. His sincere dedication to what he does and the people he does it with, and for, is palpable - and incredibly infectious. 

Altogether, last night was a wonderful get-together, filled with massive learnings that roused a surging fire out of our burning desire to go out there and serve entrepreneurs in our own unique way.

You can watch the full live stream below:

With Gratitude To…

As always, our event partners Xero, PayFast and Workshop17 - you make these events possible month after month - we couldn't do it without you. Ditto to Quicket Backsberg, Sir Fruit, Creed Living and Goodleaf, who provide the thirst-quenchers and treats that help fuel our community get-togethers. To our other partners, including Capitalise, xneelo, Whipping the Cat, Eclipse Communications, Digital Planet and many more - you rock!

And last but never least, to every community member that tuned in last night, we hope you found as much value in the conversation as we did - and thanks for showing up, online and in-person, despite the fact that the weather was just screaming Netflix and bed.

Until the next one, peace.