In countries such as South Africa where there are so many official languages, and on the African continent in general where language can so often be the key to doing effective business across the continent, it can be challenging. But specialist language and translation expert, Cecilia Mnisi, founder of MMJ Interpretation Services Pty Ltd, has the solution, and her company is breaking down language barriers for business each and every day.
LoA chatted to Cecilia at one of the recent Lioness Lean In events in Johannesburg to find out more.
What does your company do?
MMJ Interpretation Services (Pty) Ltd is a Gauteng-based Interpreting and Translation Company in South Africa. We have national footprint through our network of trusted business partners. MMJ Interpretation Services is 100% owned by women. We are accredited as a Women Business Enterprise (WBE) through WE Connect International in South Africa. The company specializes in Interpreting,Translation,Transcriptions, Recordings and Minute taking/writing. The company has been serving clients across a range of industries in all nine provinces of South Africa. We offer our services to medium and large sized organizations and provide translation services of company reports, newsletters, investigative reports, disciplinary hearings translations, and many other quasi-judicial proceedings.
"My company MMJ Interpretation Services specializes in Interpreting, Translation, Transcriptions, Recordings and Minute Taking/Writing."
What inspired you to start your company?
I am passionate about languages. I was working for government as an Interpreter and Translator for more than 20 years. I started the business as a hobby. I did translations and transcriptions for attorneys and forensic investigators on an ad-hoc basis, at home after-hours. The request for my services increased. The people I assisted started to spread the word. I then identified the gap in the market without conducting any research. I first tested the waters by registering the business in 2011 and operated on a part-time basis while still holding my full time job.
Why should anyone use your service or product?
We have a wealth of experience in the field of legal interpreting and translation
We have head-hunted Interpreters and Translators who have a wealth of experience in the field of in-court interpreting and translation. We supply interpreters and translators who are native speakers of South Africa's eleven official languages and foreign languages. We have a national footprint through our network of trusted business partners. All our services are offered at cost effective, competitive rates. We are well positioned to address client’s needs and embrace new challenges through our talented team’s combined areas of expertise.
"We offer our services to medium and large sized organizations and provide translation services of company reports, newsletters, investigative reports, disciplinary hearings translations, and many other quasi-judicial proceedings."
Tell us a little about your team
Our team comprises an Office Administrator, Translators and Stenographers. We have an ICT Specialist responsible for managing our operations and projects. We have access to a wide range of skills, sourced through our strategic business partners. The fact that we are a small company means we regard each other as family. I believe in involving the team in most of the decisions I make. I believe in empowerment. Keeping a team motivated is key to every organization’s success
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
I am a Language practitioner. I am qualified in Legal Interpreting and Translation. I graduated from the University of Witwatersrand in 2002. I do not come from an entrepreneurial background. I started my career as a court interpreter and Translator. I was in the interpreting and translation field for 20 years. I registered the business in 2011 and operated on a part-time basis while still holding my full time job. I wanted to make sure the business had a viable revenue before running it on a full time basis. I attended the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, which assists aspiring entrepreneurs who have started a business, with the skills, opportunities and inspiration they need to succeed. I resigned from my full time job in 2014.
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
We aim to expand our technical offering by acquiring conferencing and recording equipment in our new financial year. We aim to build strong relationships with academic institutions by offering new graduates experiential training and a fast-paced growing environment with emphasis on long-term careers.
"We supply interpreters and translators who are native speakers of South Africa's eleven official languages and foreign languages."
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
Being able to create employment for women to feed their families and seeing a satisfied, happy client after delivery of Excellent Service.
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
Do not let fear stop you from achieving your dreams. Associate yourself with people who are already in the industry that you are interested in and learn from them.
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Why LoA loves it….
Having a specialism in business can often be the key to success as it defines a particular market segment that can be fully capitalized upon if the service and product offering is world class. In the case of South African entrepreneur Cecilia Mnisi, she has leveraged her considerable experience and expertise in the field of translation and interpretation and built a successful business model that is poised for even greater success. --- Melanie Hawken, founder and editor-in-chief of Lionesses of Africa