Growing up in a rural and disadvantaged community in the North West homelands of South Africa, Tebogo started dance classes at the local cultural centre to get away from a chaotic home life with six siblings. She loved her classes and, after being handpicked to train professionally, began competing at an international level. Defying the odds, Tebogo managed to build a successful career in the dance industry which spanned twenty years. Alongside competing, Tebogo also trained as a teacher and opened her own dance studio.

Inspired by the generosity and sense of community she experienced in her own childhood, Tebogo wanted more children and youth in disadvantaged communities to have the opportunity to pursue a career in dance. In 2014 she established the Tebogo Kgobokoe Foundation, which offers a variety of dance training, inspirational programming and arts and recreation consulting.

When Tebogo joined the Mentoring Women in Business Programme in November 2014, she was looking for support to expand her Foundation and launch a new, elite dance academy to empower a new generation of dancers with dance and life skills needed for a successful career in the arts. She was matched with Hajiri, an entrepreneur from Tanzania with experience in business start-ups, financing and communications. Together, they focused on refining Tebogo’s business concept and model, and prepared to launch the pilot programme of her new academy. Hajiri supported Tebogo to create a digital marketing strategy, prepare content for a new website and pitch her idea of a dual arts and academic programme to a variety of prospective partner academic institutions.

In January 2016, Tebogo officially launched the Tebogo Kgobokoe Arts Academy in partnership with the Mountain Cambridge School. The pilot programme offered scholarships, dance training (in traditional Setswana, Afro-fusion, Latin American, Ballroom and Ballet) and formal education to 12 students from across South Africa, most of whom would not have had the means to obtain such elite training or schooling.

Since the programme launched, Tebogo’s students have not only achieved high academic success, but have also swept the top positions in numerous national and international dance competitions. Holding titles such as the undefeated Junior Latin South African Champions, the group has placed first in Traditional Setswana and regularly performs to full houses at corporate functions.

Tebogo has also focused on strengthening her dance studio, offering dance teacher training at a low cost to dancers from rural areas to enable them to share their skills with others in their communities.

Tebogo said that her mentor helped her reflect, find solutions and gain confidence in her ideas. Hajiri was there to help her think about which options would work best and how to make her ideas come to life. When asked about the most valuable part of the mentoring relationship, Tebogo said, “The encouragement – my mentor really believed in my project and was genuinely proud of the steps I took towards achieving my goals.”

Similarly, Hajiri said that she was inspired by Tebogo’s passion and dedication. Their mentoring relationship has blossomed into a strong friendship and Hajiri says, “She has become a part of my family.”

Looking forward, Tebogo is eager to build on the success of this year and take her Academy to the next level as an independently operated school, offering a full academic and arts curriculum, as well as boarding facilities, to promising and underprivileged dancers from across the continent.

To find out more about Tebogo’s Foundation and Academy, please visit: www.tebogo.co.za

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