Starting a business can be stressful and requires a lot of work, time and money.
Even though women often have limited access to finance, black female entrepreneurs are growing in numbers, with many starting their own businesses to either fulfil their dreams or seize a gap in the market.
If you ever feel discouraged or in need of inspiration, look no further than these black South African women who took a leap of faith and are now running their own businesses.
Born in Cofimvaba, Eastern Cape, Siphesihle Kwetana didn’t have any intention of starting her own business in agriculture, but a chance encounter and hard work put the wheels of destiny in motion. In 2014 she started the Siphe Development and Capacitation Agency which she co-owns with her husband. They supply local supermarkets with vegetables.
“You need to trust yourself if you want to make it in this field of work. You need to tell yourself that everything is going to work out no matter how many times you’re told it’s not going to.”
Born and raised in the small town of Eshowe in KwaZulu-Natal, 25-year-old Sne Mthembu was admitted as an attorney of the high court a few months ago. She took a leap of faith shortly thereafter: she left her job and started her own firm. She’s even added the word “partners” to her firm’s name because she’s open to working with other people.
“My ultimate goal is to inspire young, black women and show them it’s possible to do your own thing.”
From serving 10 years in the SANDF to styling magazine covers, Bontle Mogoye is going places. She styled the cover stars for an issue of Forbes Woman Africa, which featured 50 successful African businesswomen, including media personality Bonang Matheba and businesswoman Irene Charnley.
“Coming from a small town, Kroonstad in the Free State, they’d say I can’t be a fashion designer [but] I could be a doctor.”
Nomfundo Mcoyi lost everything to her first husband following their divorce in 2009. She had to start over from scratch. In that moment of need and despair, Icebolethu Funeral Group was born. She left her job as a teacher to venture into business. Today her business, based in KwaZulu-Natal, employs over 300 people.
“God has blessed me with a very dedicated team, which understands my vision. I couldn’t have done it on my own. It took teamwork and dedication to get where we are today.”
Instead of attending her own matric dance 15 years ago, Phiwe Mngadi was busy doing the nails and eyelashes of her ball-going friends and fellow schoolmates. In 2015, having worked at beauty salons in and around Joburg to gain experience, she decided she was done being just another employee. She knew she had plenty to offer as a business owner, so she opened Plush Nail Art Studio in Soweto.
“Beauty has always been my passion and it’s something I’m lucky enough to have done every day since leaving school.”
For Veronica Shabalala it started off as a dream based on a desire to do more. Telling her nursing peers she wanted to set her own schedule one day was something they laughed about together. Now, draining 12-hour shifts are a thing of the past. Even though Veronica often works longer hours these days, being her own boss and a wound-care specialist gives her energy.
“I remember dreading the 12-hour shifts I used to work at the hospital, but now I find I can do more. You do not get fatigued when it is your own baby you are working on.”
When their business failed, their marriage followed – and when the divorce was finally finalised in 2013, Mikie Monoketsi was left with nothing. But it was during this time that she settled on her next business venture and what would become her saving grace. She began researching healthy eating at affordable prices and this was when she thought of creating her own product: Mama’s Spices and Herbs.
“I will continue to empower, educate and uplift others so that they can live healthy lives and achieve financial independence by running their own small entrepreneurial enterprise.”
Dr Aisha Pandor is the co-founder and CEO of SweepSouth, an app that allows users to book and pay for cleaning services – and which has provided work for more than 20 000 domestic workers since its inception. She recently scooped the Forbes Woman in Africa technology and innovation award.
“It’s recognition for the hard work our team does every day towards our mission, which is to help domestic workers find opportunities and serves as further inspiration and motivation for us to continue.”
She’d always been resourceful. Growing up in Guguletu, Cape Town, she didn’t like to play with dolls because she couldn’t relate to the fair-skinned blonde-haired variety found in toy stores. So she set about scouring flea markets in search of second-hand dolls to experiment on. Now Yolanda Yawa-Donkers is the proud owner of Luvuthando Dolls, a black doll brand that promotes diversity and aims to instil confidence young children.
“I am passionate about the black child and wanted to create a product that will be fun and inspiring.”