Please meet Sabelo Romeo Nanene, a twenty-three year old iHub student who just graduated the program as part of the 2021 cohort.

I along with two other HFI Coach-Mentors (one from Calgary, Canada; the other from Washington DC, USA) joined the iHub’s Coaching program in September as the students moved into their third and final phase of training.


The Coach-Mentor offering was added to HFI’s Stay & Serve program which was launched in 2020 as an interim opportunity for Canadian professionals to continue to volunteer remotely with overseas development organizations while international air travel was restricted due to the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic. Building on our longstanding partnership with Hillsong Africa Foundation and the Innovation Hub Africa project, we wanted to provide the iHub students some exposure to international professionals insights given that the program’s Placement Partners have international operations and internship roles would require successful iHub trainees to interact with internationally-based clients.  The iHub students were already assigned a local, South African coach beginning with phase one training back in March.  In August, us three international coaches provided students the option to apply for an additional international coach and after 6 applied and were interviewed, we selected three to move forward with as phase three started in September. I took on Sabelo.


Phase 3 was shortened to only 8 weeks following a brief, national Covid0-19 shutdown that halted iHub training for 4 weeks.  Although this only afforded us HFI Coach-Mentors 4 sessions with our students over the 8 weeks (holding 1 hours Zoom video calls every 2 weeks), we all were able to quickly develop a solid connection and rich relationships that were transformational for both student and coach.


I loved getting to know Sabelo’s story – a somewhat typical one of him not having an involved Father, a mom who died at age 9, and living with an Aunt and older brother while he moved between several schools in the Eastern Cape until settling in Nyanga, Cape Town once attaining his high school matric. Sabelo has many creative talents as a songwriter, musician, performer and graphic artist.  He was drawn to the iHub program to understand better how he could market himself and his music using social media and by the end of the iHub program, became very interested in the digital side of marketing, including understanding analytics, data reporting and bringing his cre3ative talents into becoming a whiz at designing website landing pages.  Through the iHub program and our mentoring journey, Sabelo learned so much about himself as a leader, team member and entrepreneur; and now has some excellent soft and hard skills that will stead him well in the emerging digital economy of South Africa – possibly beyond.

Although we arrived late into the overall iHub training program, I was able to speak into his life in regards to time management, planning and project management, critical thinking, business communications, and help get him ready for his first interview for an internship with Comarketers – which took place last week!



The icing on the cake was to be able to at return to Cape Town in time to be in person for his graduation on the 19-Nov.   How sweet to hug his neck and celebrate with him on this excellent achievement – earning one of the top grades of his class of 22 students.


Us three HFI Coach-Mentors gained some excellent experience and learning’s piloting the international element of the iHub Coaching program and we’re all excited to continue as coaches once the 2022 cohort gets underway next March.    In the meantime, I hope to stay connected with Sabelo through bi-weekly phone calls and continue to support him as he (hopefully) lands an intern role with Comarketers and begins a new, transformational leg in his career.

If this update interested or inspired, you to think about becoming a Coach-Mentor to an iHub student as part of the HFI Stay & Serve remote volunteer program you can find out more about what’s involved here.

I cannot think of a better opportunity to feed into a young adult’s life – someone who is interested and eager to receive your professional insights and wisdom, and use that mentoring to ready themselves to participate in the emerging digital economy – which will be a life changer for themselves and their family.


I cannot wait to see where Sabelo takes this amazing opportunity in the years ahead!  Want to join me?