After dropping out of school, this 17-yr-old Mozambican now owns a thriving AV production company

Abu Mubarik February 17, 2022
Sofia Maquile is the founder and CEO of Smaqs in Mozambique. Photo: Linkedin/Sofia Maquile

Growing up in Mozambique, Sofia Maquile wanted to be famous and have HD pictures and videos of herself. At the age of 12, she started to become more worried about her future because she did not have hope in education due to graduate unemployment in her country.

She also applied to a number of modeling/photo agencies but she was rejected and she grew frustrated. Eventually, Maquile decided that she was no longer going to look for a job but will rather invest in herself and her bigger vision.

This led her to establish Smaqs, an audiovisual production company focused on making high-quality digital pictures and videos for the international and pan-African market. She launched the business in 2017 and now employs and trains over 10 interns, 70% of them being from local communities.

The company covers Photography, Videography, Graphic Design, Digital Marketing and Digital Influence. “Our target market includes models, artists and digital influencers,” she told Lionessesofafrica. Aside from her business, Maquile also has over 10 years of experience as a social media influencer and manager.

According to Maquile, she started her entrepreneurial journey at the age of 12 although she did not come from an entrepreneurial background.

“It all started with my iPhone 6 when I learned to make short dynamic video edits. Over time, I made some money here and there with the help of the audience I created on social media until my sister and my aunt saw my dedication and decided to work with me in a long-term partnership,” she said.

She continued: “My mother started to help me financially to invest in more equipment and my father helped me in terms of motivation and persistency. My sister, Yara Perengue, has a CrossFit gym, Fit Generation, she hired me to cover and manage the company´s social media and my aunt, Iolanda Francisco, hired me as her personal photographer.”

Maquile stopped working with her sister after two years due to poor time and task management, but she continued to work with her aunt. The pandemic made things difficult for her in terms of school, causing her to drop out of in grade 10. She then wrote the GED exams.

Her brother-in-law helped her with marketing but all in all, it was a very tough journey considering her competitors were/are at least twice her age, she said. “I lost a lot of friends and fun time due to work but it was definitely worth it. Now at 17, I´m able to solve and manage problems I couldn´t imagine I was capable of previously, giving me much more of competitive advantage,” she said.

Maquile said her future plans include expanding her business to markets abroad and growing the company into a multimillion establishment. The young entrepreneur also plans to build a training center to teach many people about audiovisual production.

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