A dreamer from Pretoria, Refiloe is the founder of the award-winning non-profit organisation called 18twenty8® which aims to empower young women from the ages of 18 years to 28 years old.
Raised with her siblings in the Vosloorus Township (Gauteng), Refiloe grew up all over South Africa; on her maternal grandparents’ farm in a semi-rural town called Tsolo in the Transkei (Eastern Cape) and with her paternal grandmother in Wattville Township in Benoni (Gauteng).
She completed both primary and high school at St. Dominic’s Convent and she majored in Economics and Finance in her BCom degree at The University of South Africa (UNISA), graduating with a distinction in Economics. Refiloe also holds a postgraduate (Honours) degree in Economics from UNISA as well as a certificate in Media and Marketing Strategies for NGO’s. She was the top graduate in the Management Advancement Programme (MAP) at Wits Business School in 2011.
She has numerous achievements under her belt including being a member of the Young African Women Leaders’ Forum with U.S First Lady, Michelle Obama, being recognised as a Top Young South African by the Mail & Guardian Newspaper and membership to U.S President Barack Obama’s Young African Leaders’ Initiative in 2012 … to name a few!
Her board memberships include the Schools’ Association of Southern Africa (ISASA) – the Mathematics and English board – as well as the African Leadership Academy (Student Enterprise Program) and Brightest Young Minds.
Refiloe’s parents and teachers inspired her to pursue professional speaking: “I went to St Dominic’s Convent for 12 years and I had very supportive and dedicated teachers … especially my English teachers …”
“My teachers always said that I read and spoke eloquently … up until Grade 7, I spoke in a team with two or three other girls for our debating and public speaking competitions … my English teacher told me that being in high school came with the opportunity to speak individually as well as to continue speaking in teams … she introduced me to the Grade 10 English teacher who spent a lot of time working with me during break, after school, on weekends and sometimes during school holidays to get my speeches right …”
“When I matriculated, I auditioned for various agents, on the strength of my high school portfolio … Eventually one decided to represent me and I started to get bookings … I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for my teachers and if it weren’t for my parents for getting me into St. Dominic’s Convent in the first place”.
Refiloe has been speaking publicly since the age of 15 years when she poke at her first individual public speaking competition in Grade 9. “It was at the Boksburg Town Council and I received a trophy for ‘Best Speaker’ from the Mayor …” Refiloe was asked to speak at other high schools in Boksburg to motivate other learners to polish their public speaking skills.
“I think that this and all of my subsequent awards and recognition should have gone to my English teachers for all of the hours they sacrificed to get me to that level … and of course, my family members … for having to listen to my rehearsals every day with no loss of enthusiasm!”
Refiloe said that she would probably be a full-time TV actress again or working in the corporate sector as an economist … “I would definitely continue running my non-profit organisation, 18twenty8®”
She believes that there is no magic formula for success; “I think it takes years to become an over-night success … Having a dream; believing in that dream; working hard to keep the dream alive and having people to help make the dream a reality are what count”.
Refiloe has the following advice to offer to anyone interested in joining the public speaking field:
“Practice makes perfect – especially in front of a mirror or to your friends and family. Respect your talent and hone it continually”
“Watch videos of inspirational speakers and watch their delivery, style, posture and gestures”
“Search for respectable agents to represent you. They will ask what experience you have before they sign you and the impressive portfolio that you have built up, will speak for itself”
“Leave the door open for others who are walking behind you and when you get to the top of the mountain, kneel down and extend your head to pull up the next aspiring speaker”
Some things that you may not know about Refiloe:
She has numerous celebrity crushes such as Benecio del Toro, Guy Ritchie, Liev Schreiber, Javier Bardem, Wynton Marsalis and Jason Statham … to name a few!
Her hobbies include reading, exercising and listening to music.
She loves watching the Bloomberg TV channel as well as Lipstick Jungle (when it was on air).
The song that best describes Refiloe : ‘For the Love of the Game’ by DJ Jazzy Jeff