Johnson, 26, started her business with no knowledge of the media industry and just four staff working from a small rented office in January 2016. She now employs eight staff and four interns.
She spent her formative years in Durban before moving to the Western Cape where she matriculated at Holy Cross Girl’s Convent High School in Cape Town and went on to study a Bachelor of Social Science at the University of Cape Town.
Johnson returned to Durban and opened her business which offers its services nationally.
Phumelela Farms and Projects publishes the SMME News newspaper, which is distributed throughout eThekwini, iLembe District, Ugu District and Pietermaritzburg. It runs an online platform for SMME news and provides photography, video production, branding and graphic design services to small businesses.
“When we started the business we were fortunate enough to be funded by the Media Development and Diversity Agency, but it was my first time handling such funds without any business or financial experience,” Johnson said.
“I do not come from a media or publishing-related background, therefore, I had to learn,” Johnson said.
Starting a business has been her lifelong dream.
“I always had the idea of starting something and challenging myself to pursue its growth and success.”
She said she was honoured to receive the award, and put her success down to employing a work ethic “uncompromisingly based on Christian principles”.
“To be recognised by Smart Xchange for the successes and milestones, after an intense period of struggling to sustain ourselves, is the greatest highlight and privilege.”
Johnson said her business journey had entailed “a lot of hard work, a willingness to learn and a continuous optimistic spirit to succeed”.
She advised entrepreneurs to persevere in growing their businesses and to make the most of partnerships and business support programmes.
“Most importantly, it takes a lot of self-belief even when the odds are against you.
“Do not allow rejection, mockery or the disbelief of others to stand in the way of your vision - even if you are the only one who believes in you, that is enough.”
“Young entrepreneurs must know that it is not just about the money you hope to make, it is about the process and the mentality that you need to enjoy the process. Celebrate each achievement and learn from your mistakes.”