Sibling duo Neo Tsiu (24) and her brother, Modise (22), both who recently graduated during Stellenbosch University's (SU) hybrid graduation week, are now equipped to continue their dynamic journey as change agents together.
Having both been awarded a Diploma in Sustainable Development from SU's School of Public Leadership in the Faculty of Economics and Management Sciences on 14 December, the siblings are excited about their achievement and all the
possibilities and opportunities that the future holds.
Going forward, they will leverage the close bond they have as siblings and their amazing ability to work excellently together, despite individual differences and diverse strengths.
“Because of the small age gap, we were always able to relate to each other and share things that mattered to us as individuals. We were also able to be a source of comfort to each other when times were rough," said Modise.
An opportunity that they grabbed together was during the 2020 hard lockdown when boredom at home resulted in their creativity and innovative skills culminating in the creation of a podcast called Panel N&M on Spotify. The siblings hosted the podcast together, talking to their peers about challenges and social issues affecting their lives during that difficult time.
The interest in the podcast surpassed all their expectations, with more than 200 downloads of the episodes, said Neo. “People reached out to us, thanking us for the positive impact our podcast had on them and how it helped them through the emotional and mental strain that the hard lockdown had on them."
Modise said it is very humbling how their family, friends and other people expressed their appreciation for the podcast, sharing how much they enjoyed listening to it and how much they have learned from the siblings. “We touched on various topics, from our own personal stories to addressing social issues that we felt were relevant to talk about at that time. Topics such as the pandemic, love and relationships, Women's Day and more," he added.
The popularity of the podcast proved to the siblings that they could connect and communicate well with people and these skills helped them to gain knowledge and understanding of the diversity of people's backgrounds, emotions, needs and interests. They continued hosting several episodes throughout the lockdown.
The podcast is still running, but they could not add any new episodes because their academic programme demanded all their time and attention. “Nonetheless, we are going to start the podcast again soon and only need to get a few things together. This time it will be also available in video format," said Modise.
Changing the world
This experience with their successful podcast led to the idea of starting their own sustainability consultancy firm, where they will help small businesses to get established in the green economy. “We are in the beginning phase of research and planning. We want to differentiate ourselves from the competition," said Neo.
The changes that the siblings would like to see the touch on social issues affecting most people in South Africa.
Modise wants to help lower the youth unemployment rate by finding ways to help young people use their talents and ambition. Neo wants to find ways of addressing the inequality still present in the country. “I would like to see an equal world, where the rich and the poor, people of all races, and people of all genders, have access to the same opportunities," she said.
In the meantime, Neo will continue with postgraduate studies in sustainable development next year, while Modise will do his internship to gain work experience. But they will both find the time to meet at times and work on their business and podcast together.