Connie Mdladla is Defined By Her Optimism

Connie Mdladla is Defined By Her Optimism


Vital Stats

  • Player: Connie Mdladla
  • Company: Khaas Logistics
  • Passion: Living life to its fullest despite hardships.
  • Contact: ;+27 (0)12 655 0002

As a teenager, Connie Mdladla would often go off to one of the local spaza shops in Soshanguve and then find herself back at home with no recollection of how she got there.

These spells of confusion and loss of consciousness were symptoms of epilepsy. Despite this brain disorder, which caused seizures that were beyond her control, Mdladla was an A student who passed high school with flying colours. But university proved to be more of a challenge.

“We were poor and my mother was raising five children on her own after my father’s death. She would buy one bus ticket and we would have to decide who could go to campus that day. But the worst was that I would often have seizures — at the bus stop, in the cafeteria, or during a lecture — and it was terribly embarrassing for me as a young woman.”

To her mother’s bitter disappointment, Mdladla dropped out at the end of the second year of her BCom studies, having had enough of these humiliating experiences.She found a job with a pastor as a general assistant, enabling her to bring home R600 a month.

In 1998, after she had picked up a few admin skills, she went to work as a shipment inspector for a freight forwarding company. It was to be the beginning of a whole new direction.

Ten years later, having had her condition stabilised, she quit her job to launch Khaas Logistics, a clearing and forwarding agency.

“I used my own savings to start the business, as well as an established, loyal client base.”

Khaas Logistics has since grown into a Level 1 BEE contributor, with a turnover of more than R5 million, and big clients in mining and excavation.

“To get the top guys in these male dominated industries to listen to a young woman and to trust me with their precious shipments was not easy,” she admits. “I’ve obviously done something right.”

A year after starting her business, Mdladla returned to university, completing a Management Advancement Programme at Wits Business School.

“I am driven to succeed because I hurt my mother so badly by dropping out, and also because the stigmatisation that comes with having epilepsy in the township was something I wanted to beat.”

“I’m no longer a pariah. Today, Khaas Logistics is one of the few freight forwarding companies to be owned by a black woman from the township, to say nothing of one with epilepsy.”

Using determination to get ahead

  • Everyone faces challenges. It’s what you do with those challenges that defines you.
  • You can use negative things in your life to shape your own determination, and find solutions to challenges, or they can hold you back.

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Monique Verduyn
Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.