Winning Women: Thabang Molefi – The Root of healthy business

2013-06-30 14:00

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Thabang Molefi has led a rollercoaster life, living on three continents and winning awards as she surged towards her ultimate goal of providing health therapy for her people, writes Sue Grant-Marshall

Thabang Molefi trained as a health and skincare therapist in London, then sailed the high seas, practising her skills on American cruise liners before deciding to return to her Soweto roots in more ways than one.

She took her hard-earned dollars, amounting to savings of nearly R700?000 in 2002 and, with her characteristic determination, invested in her first Roots Healthcare Centre in the place where she was born and raised.

She could have opened just a skincare centre, or a massage parlour, and turned that into the success Roots is today.

But her healing hands and determination to provide natural and ethnomedicine, also known as traditional medicine, would not allow for that.

She combined everything in her centre in order to care for both the external and internal requirements of people’s bodies.

She uses iridology, an alternative medicine technique that employs patterns, colours and other characteristics of the eye’s iris to determine information about a patient’s systemic health. So she uses a person’s eyes as windows into the body’s state of health.

Once that’s established, she is often able to accurately diagnose a client’s condition, which is commonly diabetes, hypertension or high cholesterol; and, depending on the severity, she might refer patients to clinics or hospitals.

Molefi will, however, suggest to those she feels able to treat that they modify their diets, often to restrict their intake of pap, sugar and sour milk. She also provides herbs that are appropriate for various ailments.

These she imports in bulk from Germany, submitting them to the Medicines Control Council before mixing and packaging them for her clients. They range from willow bark and peppermint tea to stinging nettle and skullcap.

Molefi didn’t take the easy, superficial route for her Roots Healthcare Centres because, according to her, there is a huge need for affordable healthcare, particularly in rural areas.

She says: “Western medicine is too costly for many of my people and that is why I studied at the Indigenous Medicinal Plants Training College in Khayelitsha, Cape Town.”

Molefi opened her first little centre in Soweto’s Irvin Khoza complex, offering iridology assessments as well as providing free talks on health at churches and in community centres.

As the first curious clients trickled into her centre, so the word spread and today she has three centres – Soweto, Spruitview and Walkerville – plus nine branches across South Africa that she services through her mobile Roots Healthcare Centres.

Molefi and the staff she has carefully trained over the years pack her iriscope, circulation-boosting machines, detox machines, massage tables and herbs into trailers, and set off for community and church halls, even visiting tiny, off-the-map places such as Ntintini in KwaZulu-Natal.

When she first moves into an area with a mobile centre, she will have been there beforehand, giving talks to the community. The initial 20 or so people seeking care will have doubled or tripled by the time her mobile centre next comes around.

She and her staff keep records of people’s conditions and monitor their improvements, maybe suggesting detoxification or extra care, along with

special diets.

Molefi did a LifeLine counselling course to enable her to deal with vulnerable people.

“One woman had a gangrenous leg, but didn’t want to go to a clinic before I managed to persuade her. Others are HIV positive and they need medicine. I know my limits,” she says.

This plucky, and in the past sometimes too trusting, entrepreneur nearly went under after her business was infiltrated by gangsters who made off with money she’d invested in her venture.

But she was saved by her excellent business plan, which twice won her cash prizes in the SAB KickStart competition. The competition’s provincial level saw her win R40?000 and she went on to land the national prize of R150?000.

In 2008, she won a Shoprite Checkers Woman of the Year award in the business entrepreneurs category.

In spite of these achievements, she’s always modest, takes every opportunity she can to further her knowledge – whether in the fields of business or health – and realises every failure is something she can learn from.

Today, she makes a point of using the services of local businesses to support her in essential functions such as accounting, laundry and security.

She can boast a multimillion-rand annual turnover, though is reluctant to do so because, she says, “most people do not understand the difference between turnover and profit. They are very different”.

Her husband, Kali Molefi, gave up a good job in banking to join her nine years ago, when she was “struggling” with her business.

They now have three young children.

Naturally, Molefi’s live wire brain is buzzing with a multitude of plans. She’s just written a book, Dollars to Soweto (published by Trafford) and hopes a play depicting her entrepreneurial struggle will tour the country to inspire others to follow in her footsteps.

In time, she plans to franchise her business.

Another of her dreams is to open a health hydro spa in Walkerville, where she lives with her young family.

She has already bought the land for it, but still needs funding. Given her history, though, that shouldn’t prove insurmountable.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.