The Comms Spotlight: Tabvi Motsi, Creative Director and Co-Founder, The B.Shop Africa

Our Comms Spotlight for this week is a multidimensional creative as well as a public speaker. Tabvi Motsi is the Creative Director and Co-Founder role at The B.Shop Africa. While Tabvi’s career spanning over 20 years began in Harare, Zimbabwe, his career has taken him to Kigali, Rwanda. In this interview, Tabvi takes us to the origin of his passion for all things Communications.


Tell us how you began your career in Communications.

I have always loved storytelling. From learning how to write at two years old, and drawing amazingly by the age of four, my teachers called me a child protégé. Winning an international writing contest at ten, along with numerous arts and academic awards in primary school, solidified my belief that this was the path I wanted to pursue in life.

I cemented my journey in communications by graduating in Graphic Design in 2001 from Harare Polytechnic College, and this laid the foundation for my career in visual storytelling. I initially delved into the world of print production at one of Harare’s prominent printing companies, where I gained invaluable hands-on experience in design and production processes. Seeking new challenges and opportunities, I transitioned into advertising, joining a young dynamic agency eager to make its mark.

It was during this pivotal time that I had the privilege of working on groundbreaking projects for Innscor Fast Foods, now known as Simbisa Brands, a leading player in the African fast-food industry. Spearheading the development of brand identities and advertising campaigns for Innscor provided me with a deeper understanding of design thinking and the creation of comprehensive brand manuals. This experience not only honed my design skills but also exposed me to the intricacies of market analysis and data interpretation within the FMCG sector.

In 2008, fueled by an entrepreneurial spirit and a shared vision, my former workmate and colleague (Christopher Mahakata) and I co-founded Mawazo Brandevelopment, a boutique agency aimed at pushing creative boundaries and delivering innovative solutions. Our agency quickly gained recognition, winning numerous awards in Zimbabwe and across sub-Saharan Africa for our exceptional work on behalf of clients.


What does your role as Creative Director and Co-Founder role at The B.Shop Africa entail?

As the Creative Director, Co-Founder and visionary leader of The B.Shop Africa, I am committed to fostering innovation and social impact across the continent. Rejecting the traditional title of CEO, I prefer to lead by example, inspiring a network of consultants across Africa, the United Kingdom, and Australia who share a passion for driving positive change on the African continent.

My role extends beyond conventional leadership. I envision The B.Shop Africa as more than just a consultancy – it is a catalyst for transformation, empowering startups and non-governmental organisations through design thinking education and facilitation.

You started your career in Harare, Zimbabwe, but recently began working in Kigali, Rwanda. What are some significant differences you’ve experienced practising Communications in both countries?

Transitioning from Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, to Kigali, Rwanda, highlighted significant differences in communication practices. Harare, located in the Southern African region, embodies a vibrant yet nostalgic atmosphere; while Kigali, situated in East Africa, exudes forward-thinking dynamism. In Harare, there is a tendency to dwell on past milestones, whereas Kigali embraces innovation and efficiency.

Furthermore, in East Africa, particularly in Rwanda, there is a prevalent practice of Ubuntu, which emphasizes community and interconnectedness and influences communication dynamics significantly. Kigali’s vision of becoming an African leader of hope, change, and innovation is palpable.

While it may not be as big as cities like Lagos or Johannesburg, the trajectory is clear, and I am enthusiastic about contributing to this transformative journey. Understanding and adapting to these nuances have enriched my approach to communication strategies in diverse cultural contexts, positioning me as a part of Kigali’s revolution.

Can you share a Communications challenge that you find bothersome?

Africa’s communication landscape would greatly benefit from recognising the role of a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) or Brand Director as a key leader. Currently, organisations tend to overlook the importance of dedicated leadership in this area, often tasking communications professionals with a wide array of responsibilities.

However, assigning a dedicated CMO or Brand Director would provide strategic direction, ensure cohesive messaging, and drive impactful communication initiatives tailored to organisational objectives. This approach acknowledges the critical role that marketing and branding play in shaping perceptions, fostering engagement, and driving growth.

By embracing this leadership model, African organisations can unlock the full potential of their communication efforts and elevate their presence in an increasingly competitive global landscape.

Additionally, this leadership role serves as a conduit carrying the vision and business strategy through to communications,  ensuring alignment and synergy across all messaging and branding initiatives. This is exemplified by Starbucks’ decision to transition its previous CMO to the position of Global CEO.


What is your go-to source of inspiration when executing projects?

My primary source of inspiration when executing projects stems from a multifaceted approach rooted in human connection, design principles, and storytelling.

As a practitioner of design thinking and human-centred design, I draw insights from observing and empathising with people’s experiences and needs. Being a people person, I thrive on interactions with individuals from diverse backgrounds, earning me the nickname “The Bishop.”

Additionally, I find inspiration in reading extensively and indulging in animated storytelling, particularly from Disney and Pixar, which I enjoy with my daughters. This holistic blend of experiences and influences equips me to deliver projects that resonate deeply with audiences and drive meaningful impact.


If you could give your younger self career advice, what would it be?

Certainly, the career advice I would offer my younger self would encompass two key principles. Firstly, I would emphasise the importance of striving for excellence in all endeavours and never settling for mediocrity. This entails embracing one’s capabilities fully and never shying away from showcasing one’s giftedness. Drawing inspiration from Marianne Williamson’s poem, “Our Greatest Fear,” I would encourage myself to recognise that being gifted is nothing to be shy about and to always endeavour to shine brightly in all that I do. I got the name Mellow because of my calm approach to challenges. This is a strength, as well as a weakness, that I wish I could nurture more if I could go back in time.

Secondly, I would stress the significance of discipline as a fundamental component of success. Regardless of available resources, the key lies in committing to finishing what is started, demonstrating perseverance, and maintaining focus on the ultimate goals. These guiding principles would serve as a compass, guiding me towards realising my fullest potential and achieving enduring success in my career journey.


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