Now that the dust has settled after the success of the OLX Street Store held on Mandela Day, we took a moment to chat with Chido, our junior online marketing specialist who led the project. You wouldn’t know it but it was the first project she led!
Watch this video to see how the day went.
Why did you decide to run a street store for Mandela Day?
I love doing this kind of stuff. I have a lot of friends in the NGO sector and usually I help them out by being a volunteer or assistant. The marketing team did bring it up ages ago and so I thought this was the best time to actually do it.
How do you think it went?
It was great. We were able to donate 26 boxes of clothes, 2 black bags of shoes, 33 toiletry packs and 20 wood pallets for their mattresses and 100 beds for a week to The Haven Night Shelter. And this was after only two weeks of planning. It wouldn’t at all have been possible without the support of the OLX team.
What was the thing that surprised you the most about project?
I didn’t expect people to be that willing to help out and get involved. I now understand that it is all a matter of asking. After all, those results came out of an extremely small budget. Now I know next time to not be scared to reach out to people and negotiate down quotes. A little can really go a long way.
Since this was your first time leading a project, what was the thing you least expected?
How much work it was! There were moments when I felt a little overwhelmed. I guess you need to focus on the end goal and not the smaller nitty-gritty frustration. Just take a breath from time to time.
What are you most proud of?
The fact that everyone rallied, even the people who are usually quiet. Seeing my reserved colleagues comfortably interacting and hugging the night shelter’s clients was really quite amazing. We genuinely helped people and made an impact in their life for the day by making them feel appreciated and valued. It just goes to show how much we take for granted.
What were the biggest challenges you faced?
The printing! Our initial quote for printing was more than triple our entire budget. So realising that negotiating quotes down and reaching out to people can lead to some creative solutions made a world of difference.
Nothing really goes to plan. You always have to expect the unexpected so a Plan C, D and E are much needed. Like, we had been to the shelter before and had a whole vision of what it was meant to look like. Only to find on the day that things have changed and we needed to adapt our plans quickly.
I had to make peace with the fact that that we couldn’t help everyone. At the end of the day while packing up, a man came up to me and asked if we had anything for him after he had walked all the way to the Haven from Woodstock. It broke my heart to say we had ran out of men’s clothes.
I’ve got to say one of my biggest challenges is resisting the urge to fade into the background. I realised that I underestimate myself a lot. I’m usually prefer being the support and not in the foreground as much. I’m not sure why. After this project, I now know that it’s not that bad to lead – I actually enjoyed it. So I’ll be keen to do another project.
So what’s next?
I definitely want to run another CSI project. I’m not sure what yet but keep an eye on OLX’s social channels for any news.
What is the one thing that will stick with you after this experience?
If you want to do something, just do it. Don’t doubt yourself.
What did you learn about yourself?
I guess I do have some leadership skills after all. I never thought so. I hope to grow them further.
What was the most surprising donation you received?
Underwear to be honest! A nasty pair of black tanga briefs with worn out elastic and holes in not so strategic places. Had me thinking, “Like, guy… why?” Aside from that, there were some interesting fashion choices.
What are your thoughts on OLX now?
I’m grateful I work in a place where I am trusted and free to run a project like this. I haven’t been with OLX that long, I only joined as an intern end of last year. Usually when you think of large corporates, they would have a whole department dedicated to Corporate Social Responsibility with a lot of red tape in the way. On top of that, we had everyone’s support, from the Office Assistant to the General Manager for Asia, Middle East and Africa.
Originally from the Eastern Cape, she moved to Cape Town to study a BTech in Journalism. After a string of internships, she joined OLX as an intern in November 2017 and since became a Junior Online Marketing Specialist.