Mpho Sekwele

Founder, Bantu Hikers

Is there a greater challenge than getting people to wake up and climb a mountain at dawn?

Mpho Sekwele does just that. The 34-year-old founder of Cape Town-based hiking group Bantu Hikers connects young professionals across various industries with matriculants from previously disadvantaged schools to build networks, provide informal career guidance, mentorship and guidance on occupying new spaces, be they on a mountain or in unpopular work industries.

“The hiking group encourages participants to connect and challenge themselves through climbing mountains or being in spaces that are not the norm for them. Bantu Hikers also promotes a healthy active lifestyle with the motto ‘it all starts with one step,’ ” says Sekwele.

“We want kids to know they should not only see mainstream careers as their only option. They can shoot for the stars and become anything — hedge fund managers, marine biologists, retail planning managers, chartered accountants and successful entrepreneurs. Through climbing mountains, we show them they can reach beyond what they think are their limits, and aspire to greater heights.”

Sekwele was once in average kid’s shoes, seeing life through an average kid’s eyes, thinking there were limits to his potential.

“I suppose having spent a part of my life living in a township in a rural area, I had very limited exposure to life outside the norm. But I’ve have always been somewhat of an outlier, seeking more of the unconventional out of life. I was fortunate to partner up with someone who shares similar values and is passionate about instilling a culture of knowledge, belonging and excellence among young people. This saw the birth of Bantu Hikers.”

Sekwele believes there is no limit to one’s dreams or the different spaces one can occupy, no matter what your background is.

“I liken the sense of achievement of a challenging hike or a difficult climb to how one feels when graduating — at the summit of your life! I’m inspired by the great sense of purpose, and by the positive people who surrounded me, always eager to push the envelope.” — Linda Doke

Twitter: @BantuHikers