- Nomfundo Mcoyi is the CEO of Icebolethu Group and a cookbook author.
- The business, which started as a funeral services company, has now expanded into a lifestyle brand that has many other companies under it.
- She tells how she plans to expand even further and build generational wealth.
Having been in business for 13 years, Icebolethu group founder Nomfundo Mcoyi has successfully grown the funeral services provider into a lifestyle brand that has now expanded to catering, property and many other industries.
Speaking to TRUELOVE, Nomfundo, who is also the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) chairperson of the South African Funeral Practitioners Association, says that she left her career as an educator to pursue her passion for entrepreneurship when she identified a need to provide Black people with the opportunity to bury their loved ones in a dignified manner.
“I started the business in 2009. What inspired me to start the business is seeing the gap in the funeral industry at the time and seeing the need to offer a dignified send-off service for families. From that, the business has developed into a lifestyle brand where we’ve decided to offer more products that speak to the present – what people benefit as they live and how they can enhance their lives,” she says.
While the core business of Icebolethu Group is funeral services and burials, the various companies under the group’s umbrella include Icebolethu Funerals UK, Icebolethu Catering, Icebolethu Security, Icebolethu Tombstones, Icebolethu Properties, Icebolethu Group Academy and Icebolethu Memorials. The group also has over one hundred customer service branches, two call centres, a fleet centre and admin offices across KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
“We also have a foundation, which is one of our main companies. We give back to the community through different projects where we empower the youth. We have just launched a computer centre in a rural area called Isandlwana in Zululand. We also have a mentoring program called RHODA Girls where we mentor young girls and women. We started with 50 girls and now we have about 70 because some of them have graduated from tertiary and are working now. We mentor them in different ways and through different industries,” she explains.
Although Nomfundo has managed to build a solid brand over the years, she does admit to having experienced challenges throughout her journey.
“One of the major challenges when I started was that this was a male-dominated industry and when I was in rooms with these men I’d have to voice myself out three or four times before they even realised that I am in the room. When I joined, I was the only female who had started this type of business from scratch and I’d find myself sitting with men who would be so arrogant.
“It’s been a very difficult journey because even now I lead the province of KZN and it’s still not easy. Men don’t want to be led by a female because they still find it awkward. But what I love is that I don’t lead them because I’m female but I lead them because of my work and being good at it,” she says before revealing that funding was another challenge she faced.
“I didn’t have a loan or anything and had to sell things to generate revenue and capital for the business so that was also quite difficult,” she says.
Nomfundo adds that she’s learnt that dedication and passion are essential when one starts a business.
“I’m not doing this for money but I’m doing it because I understand that the things I’m doing now will be enjoyed by the next generation. It’s very important to think ahead as you think of the now. Job creation is important too and the overall love of business,” she says.
When she’s not being a boss in business, Nomfundo enjoys cooking delicious meals for her loved ones. Recently, she published a cookbook titled Boardroom To The Kitchen With Nomfundo Mcoyi - which she tells TRUELOVE is how she decided to share her journey with those who are interested in her life story.
“The cookbook was a result of me loving cooking before I became a CEO. I love cooking and I had a catering company before but during the Covid-19 pandemic I had to find something I could do because I couldn’t just sit and wait at home for things to go back to normal. So, I found time to translate what I love into a cookbook. It contains simple recipes that have ingredients that anyone can find in their cupboards at home. The cookbook also gave me a chance to share my journey with others,” she shares.
On what to expect from the Icebolethu Group in the near future, Nomfundo - who is currently in Zimbabwe on business - says a lot of diversification will be taking place.
“We are also busy with agricultural projects and have opened a memorial park, which is the first of its kind in South Africa. We are also planning to diversify into other spaces. We also want to become the leading funeral business in the insurance space,” she concluded.
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