Moky Makura | Innovator 25 EMEA 2021

Moky Makura

Executive Director

Africa No Filter

South Africa

To get out of a creativity rut, go back to the problem you are trying to solve. The creative answer is in there somewhere."

“Until lions learn to write, hunters will tell their stories for them” has been a defining proverb in Moky Makura’s life; as executive director of pioneering collaborative Africa No Filter, she is bringing this to life, shifting the African narrative from prevailing perceptions of a continent defined through poverty, disease, conflict, poor leadership and corruption, to telling stories that inspire hope and pride, demonstrate creativity and innovation, and go beyond stereotypes. An entrepreneur with a pan-African vision, Makura was born in Nigeria, educated in England and has lived in London, Johannesburg and Lagos. She was previously deputy director for communications in Africa for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Makura’s founded her communications agency, Red PR, in 1999, with the vision of becoming the first pan-African PR network. In 2002, she sold the business to Draft FCB, then South Africa’s largest communications agency. She is also a well-known TV presenter, producer, author and publisher in her own right, with an impressive output that includes her book Africa’s Greatest Entrepreneurs and the Nollybooks series of novels, aimed at getting young Africans to read, which she then adapted for TV. As part of her passion to present a positive image of Africa and showcase its heroes and achievements, she created one of the first websites to serve as a repository of positive facts about the continent. She also started the first storytelling networking event for women, Herstory Joburg.

How would you describe the communications/PR industry's level of innovation compared to other marketing disciplines?
Less innovative.

Do you think the global pandemic has made the industry more innovative?

Where is the PR industry's greatest opportunity for taking the lead on innovation?
Data, analytics & measurement.

Who most influences how innovative a brand's engagement is?

How do you define innovation?
Simpler and better than it was before.

What is the most innovative comms/marketing initiative you've seen in the last 12 months?
Using Clubhouse to generate relevant conversations that could inform brands.

In your opinion, what brands and/or agencies are most innovative around PR and marketing?
Nandos (South Africa) and other brands that realise that leverage stories, conversations and opportunities around them to guide their communications.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider 'innovative.'
We provide grants to storytellers and everything we do is about making it simpler, more accessible and better for applicants – this is different to how many funders give grants.

Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation? 
Ford Foundation – love how they embrace new initiatives and value partnerships.

How do you get out of a creativity rut?
Go back to the problem you are trying to solve. The creative answer is in there somewhere.

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation?
We need to use data, measure more and innovate from there.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing your current job?
Lol! This job was made for me. It’s a God-given role. But if i had to change I would be running a content platform of some sort linked to storytelling.

Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has helped you get through this year or provided inspiration?
I am an avid podcast listener but only to high-end quality shows. Current favourites... Snap Judgment, This American Life.

What's your favourite time of day and why?
Morning. The day is full of possibility.