Colleen finds her edge in SA’s oil and gas sector

Colleen Tshikani Makhubele (Supplied)
Colleen Tshikani Makhubele (Supplied)

Cape Town - There has been a notable rise in female entrepreneurs in South Africa even with the many obstacles they know they need to overcome.
This is telling of the untapped ambition in the market against the rise in unemployment and economic conditions, according to Colleen Tshikani Makhubele.

She always had a desire to be in business, particularly because of the idea of ownership that it came with. She wanted the type of ownership that allowed you to empower, contribute to job creation and, most importantly, being financially independent.

This fuelled her passion to become the co-founder and CEO of Mzumbe Oil, established in 2012.

“My academic strength initially led me to become an IT engineering specialist and I was privileged to receive a scholarship from the Telkom foundation to study the equivalent of a computer science degree in Malaysia, Multimedia University when I was 17 years old,” says Makhubele.

Exposure to the oil and gas industry back in 2012 sparked Makhubele's interest to do business in the space. She identified a need in the market and an opportunity which was growing, created by the government advocating for transformation of industries to include black businesses, women and youth owned business and also to be socially inclusive.


The drive that interested her most the one focused on access for black women to opportunities in the industries previously dominated by whites and men.

When Shell Commercial Fuels in South Africa brought its distributor model into SA as part of extending business reach and empowering local entrepreneurs, she grabbed the opportunity with both hands.

This was exactly what Mzumbe Oil needed to reposition itself and strengthen its capabilities for service and growth. At the time, the country was in the process of a legislative push for transformation and black women empowerment – the timing was right.

Although Mzumbe Oil is in the process of engaging and exploring the full benefits of Shell’s ED programme from a skills development, capability assessments and interventions perspective, there has been noticeable progress and improvements in her business since initial engagement.

Through Shell’s technical support, her team has received support in presenting solutions to potential clients and the association has opened the Shell network of distributors that has helped reinforce her capacity for storage depot and logistics.

Makhubele notes the importance of getting women involved in all key industries of our economies in SA and in Africa.

“Women have a unique value to add based on our skills set and natural nurturing instincts that promote sustainable growth. We are very key in growing these industries to be socially inclusive, retaining talents and bringing new innovative solutions," she says.

"Women have to start getting involved at board level, director level and senior management levels. There are opportunities in the upstream in terms of explorations, refining, drilling and manufacturing."

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