By Helen Grange
Allegro Dinkwanyane is a natural entrepreneur, so once she enrolled to do a BA Journ at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) in 2009, it wasn't long before she started her own business and begun growing it into the small media empire it is today.
Allegro is the founder and CEO of Orgella Media, a company specifically focused on online and broadcast media. She is one of the youngest owners of a 100% black owned media company in South Africa.
"My mother's side of the family owns farms and supermarkets in the Polokwane region, so I grew up in an entrepreneurial environment," says the 27-year-old media specialist.
The seeds of her business were planted in 2011, while she was still studying, with the launch of an entertainment blog, Orgella Online, an online journal covering music, celebrities, fashion and events.
"I just kept going with my blog. It took only a few months to get over a million hits, and then, from around April 2012, advertising clients started coming in," says Allegro.
To boost her competency and capitalise on her fast-growing brand, Allegro went on to study Social Media & Marketing at the University of Cape Town.
On the heels of her blog came the launch of her PR & Marketing agency Orgella Communications, and since then, she has registered several more entities under her brand, including Orgella Productions (creative design agency), Orgella Events (events management), Orgella Helping Hands (charity foundation), Orgella Eats (food and travel blog), and Orgella Properties (real estate).
"My thinking from the start was, let me start young and make mistakes now rather than later. The important thing is I am doing what I love. I did an internship at BBC Africa at the end of 2011, covering hard news, and I knew then that it was not for me. My interest was always the entertainment industry," she says.
From 2012, Allegro was juggling a part-ime job at TRACE Urban (urban music TV channel) as a journalist, PR manager, social media manager and interviews manager, but in 2014 decided to resign in order to focus on her growing media company. "I've done print, radio and TV, but my natural home is in the digital media space," she says.
In 2014, Allegro added a philosophy qualification to her academic achievements at UJ. "It was my major in my Journ degree, but in third year I dropped it. It was important to me that I complete that subject. I went back and studied it fulltime, and sponsored it myself with my own earnings from Orgella," she says.
Born and raised in Lebowakgomo (Limpopo Province) and Pretoria, Allegro was brought up by her single mother Meriam Dinkwanyane. She moved to Johannesburg in 2009 to enrol at UJ, straight after matriculating with four distinctions.
"My father was a lecturer and my mother a teacher, so education was a very high priority for me growing up," she says.
At university, by her second year, Allegro was a mentor to the first year students. In third year, she was writing regularly for the campus newspaper, the UJ Observer, and was a regular voice on UJFM.
While completing her degree, she spent time at the SABC being mentored by then SABC sport presenter Carol Tshababala. "I needed to understand the media industry as a whole, before taking the plunge and venturing out on my own," she says.
Allegro has since gathered a widespread following as a media personality, both locally and across Africa. She has been featured in a number of local magazines, and shared her story and motivational advice on forums like the KZN Music Imbizo, Standard Bank Youth Expo, KPMG Youth Managers Forums and MentorFeed, an online mentorship and training platform run by Ndalo Media for working professionals, entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs.
In 2013, her website Orgella Entertainment (www.orgellaonline.com) was nominated at the 2013 Africa Social Media Awards, and in January 2016 Forbes Woman Africa recognised the young entrepreneur as one of Africa's youngest female media business owners on the rise.
In 2017, Forbes Africa again recognised her, this time as one of 30 of Africa's leading young entrepreneurs and future billionaires, and featured her on the Forbes Africa 30 under 30 list. The list features 30 of the most promising entrepreneurs on the continent and across various sectors.
Allegro was also named a finalist in the 2017 Business Women's Association of South Africa's Regional Business Achiever Awards. In addition, the SABC's Muhghana Lonene FM honoured her for her work as an entrepreneur and philanthropist with the "Footprints of Legends" appreciation award. She is the youngest recipient to date.
Allegro's NPO charity foundation Orgella Helping Hands hosts annual events around South Africa to raise funds for the disadvantaged, while her real estate company Orgella Properties focuses on buying, developing and selling land and property across SA.
In addition, Allegro sits on the board of directors of The Journalist, a groundbreaking media project that provides history and context for key issues facing South African journalists.
Her offices are in Sandton, Melville and Durban and she has a team of eight permanent writers, PR practitioners and project managers on her staff, swelling the numbers with freelancers as work comes in.