Sisters doing it for themselves

2018-09-20 06:02
Business women from Khayelitsha. From left to right - Xoliswa Tsholoba, Letticia Ntaka and Wente NtakaBusiness women from Khayelitsha. From left to right - Xoliswa Tsholoba, Letticia Ntaka and Wente Ntaka

Business women from Khayelitsha. From left to right - Xoliswa Tsholoba, Letticia Ntaka and Wente NtakaBusiness women from Khayelitsha. From left to right - Xoliswa Tsholoba, Letticia Ntaka and Wente Ntaka

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“Lack of knowledge and understanding of the business world are a common hinderance to many who aspire to venture into this potentially lucrative field,”

This is according to Ntaka siblings Wente and Leticia as well as friend Xoliswa Tsholoba,55, from Khayelitsha.

After many years of uncertainty, the three women now own successful businesses in the catering and construction industries.

Jointly, they own Lokontani Construction, established in 2014.

Wente,48, said: “When we started, we did not have enough knowledge about business and realised there were a lot of women who also did not know much about business, which is what holds a lot of women back.”

She said they then decided to expand and welcome more women into their business space, setting up a Women in Business Zone concern, to share knowledge and create a platform that would enable them to bid for large-scale projects.

The Zone has since expanded to five members, and they have been instrumental in helping other local women to start their own businesses.

The group was recently selected to participate in the Small Business Academy (SBA), a University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) initiative.

The programme accommodates between 30 and 40 township entrepreneurs annually, through a nine-month course programme.

Participants are trained in business fundamentals, networking opportunities and mentorship. Each participant is matched with an alumnus of the USB’s MBA programme.

The trio’s biggest success to date was becoming the first black women to win a tender to install fibre-optic cables in Khayelitsha.

it was their first contract for 500 metres of trenching and pipe-laying last year, and was so well executed that it led to them being contracted for more work in Khayelitsha and Eerste Rivier.

For this project, they employed approximately 50 people.

One of the challenges is that there are not enough opportunities for women in business and their aim is to change that.

Wente, a former employee at South African Police Service(Saps), resigned in 2012 to venture into business.

Leticia had a passion for catering, Tsholoba has an interest in construction.

“There are a lot of development forums that grab jobs first before other people are given the chance to apply for them.

That’s why we pulled away from the forums to create opportunities for more people, especially women, to get jobs,” said Wente.

The group mainly offers work to unemployed women and to those interested in setting up their own businesses.

They help them to register their business and ensure compliance with all the necessary laws.

“Other disadvantaged women in Khayelitsha can see that it is possible to do something – you don’t have to sit at home just because you don’t have a job,” said Wente.

She added that they wanted other women to learn from them.

“We want other women to see the strength we have as a team. The fact that we do not have tertiary education did not stop us from being businesswomen and making a difference in our community,” said Wente.

Tsholoba’s vision is to expand the Zone to a national business network, while caterer Letticia sees herself operating Khayelitsha’s first hotel within the next 10 years.

Wente dreams of taking her studies further, doing a business management degree and having a food distribution company.


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