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10 Successful SA Women Entrepreneurs’ Top Advice On Balancing Work And Family

Discover the secrets of these ten innovative women entrepreneurs who have built highly successful SA businesses, while juggling family responsibilities.

Nicole Crampton

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Farah Fortune

Farah-Fortune-African-Star-Communication

Farah Fortune

  • Entrepreneur: Farah Fortune
  • Company: African Star Communications
  • Family: One child
  • Contact: www.africanstar.co.za

Farah Fortune resigned from her previous position and started her business from her bedroom floor. Fortune soon found herself sharing two-minute noodles with her daughter as the money began to run out.

Fortune had to momentarily shelve her dream of starting her own business and work for a PR company in order to support her daughter. She hated every minute of it so when her CC registration finally come through, she walked out the door.

Today, African Star Communications represents high-profile rappers such as K.O and Solo, and stand-up comedians Loyiso Gola and Jason Goliath. What made Fortune different from other PR firms is she took on small clients and made them into big stars.

Fortune revealed:

“My daughter keeps me motivated; she needs clothes on her back and food in her stomach. Even if this didn’t work for me, I’d scrub toilets to make sure she had what she needed. I will never see my child suffer.”

Fortune believes that balancing work and home isn’t easy at all; she has a demanding career and considers herself very lucky to have an amazing support system. Fortune doesn’t feel like she’s missing out on anything as her daughter is her priority she makes sure she’s always there for her.

Read more on Farah Fortune’s journey to success here.

Lize Fouche

Lize-Fouche

Lize Fouche

  • Entrepreneur: Lize Fouche
  • Company: Number 1 Foods
  • Family: Husband and two children

Lize Fouche didn’t consider her muesli a viable entrepreneurial idea until her baby girl was born and she needed to bring in extra income.

As her daughter grew, it became harder to care for her and watch over muesli roasting in the oven: “As orders grew we took our last few thousand rand and tried to build a steel roasting drum.”

“We inadvertently created a muesli pop that would later become a popular product in our range. With a few tries we then mastered roasting muesli in the bigger roaster.” Fouche’s Nutri-start product is now available in Pick n Pays around the country.

“We found the buyer really supportive of our business, not like the horror stories you hear of large retailers steam-rolling small businesses.”

“As a mother entering the business world, I had to really persevere when it came to pitching my product to various businesses. It took time convincing my family that this was the right thing to do. With a six-month-old and two-year-old, I had to juggle motherhood and business, sometimes taking my children with me to business meetings because I didn’t have a babysitter.”

Read more on Lize Fouche here.

Vanessa Gounden

Vanessa Gounden

Vanessa Gounden

  • Entrepreneur: Vanessa Gounden
  • Company: HolGoun Investment Holdings
  • Family: Husband and two children
  • Contact: www.holgoun.co.za

In 2003 Vanessa Gouden founded HolGoun Investment Holdings with her husband. HolGoun’s successful business approach is that it only invests in business and projects that the company can directly grow and develop.

This business approach has assisted HolGoun is acquiring a strong and diverse portfolio of investments in several sectors including mining, financial services, healthcare, property, media and entertainment, fashion, security, and film production.

“I worked from home, with my first office located in a bedroom and consisting of a computer and a desk,” revealed Gouden. Despite her humble beginnings, HolGoun is valued at more than R2.9 billion and Gouden enjoys her time creating her own fashion label called Vanessa G, which is part of HolGoun Investment Holdings.

Her daughter models for her fashion brand and her son, a musician and producer, runs Goliath, a boutique record label that supports and promotes local talent.

“My husband and I have been together since high school,” says Gouden. “We are cut from the same cloth with the same political, social and religious inclinations. The family value system that was inculcated in us as we were growing up led us to manage political, family and business responsibilities without compromising one for the other.”

Read more on Vanessa Gounden here.

Angel Jones

Angel-Jones

Angel Jones

In 2003 Jones launched her business Homecoming Revolution, “as a website to tell the stories of people who have come home – the good bits and the bad.” The message was, “You’re not a failure if you come back; you’re a pioneer, entrepreneur and revolutionary, and look at all these amazing things that are possible. Don’t wait till it gets better, come home and make it better.”

In 2011 Jones managed to make Homecoming Revolution a profitable business and now focuses all her time on it. As a mother of two Jones works hard to keep her family happy and spends as much time with them as she can. Jones is a great role model for her children showing them how to go after their dreams and do something every day that they love.

Jones believes that:

“The best way to make your children happy is to be a happy parent.”

This is what she uses to keep her work and home balance in check. Whenever she’s around her children she makes sure to be positive and happy with them, giving them a happy positive outlook on life.

Find out more about Homecoming Revolution here.

Sonia Booth

Sonia-Booth

Sonia Booth

  • Entrepreneur: Sonia Booth
  • Company: Bonneventia S Footwear
  • Family: Husband and two children

After coming second in Miss South African and becoming an international model, Sonia Booth decided to turn her attention to making her own shoe line. She founded Bonneventia S Footwear and manufactures her shoes in Johannesburg. Local designer Thula Sindi has even used Sonia’s shoes in his shows and more local designers are following suit.

Her business has grown into successful enterprise. Booth now offers her customer pedicures while they wait for their custom made shoes to be made.

“I manage with great difficulty. I have a great support system with my husband, my mom and Gogo Maureen who helps care for my son. I don’t frequent the factory unless necessary. This means I can do the administration work from home and be with my family.”

Read more on Sonia Booth here.

Nicole Stephens

Nicole-Stephens

Nicole Stephens

Nicole Stephens’s business consists of four women who all operate on flexitime. The Recruitment Specialists continues to incorporate untraditional methods by not having a head office or basic salary’s. Despite a lack of traditional systems, The Recruitment Specialists has been profitable from day one.

“There are many talented women who are forced to choose between family responsibilities and having a fulfilling career because existing business formats can’t accommodate their needs. And it’s not just mothers; people whose peak performance times happen outside of the nine to five, or those with long commutes,” explains Stephens.

“I was pregnant with my first child when we founded TRS and it was with the intention to create a business that provided us founders and employees with freedom and flexibility.”

Stephens reveals that her team stays in contact by using Skype, WhatsApp, cell phones, and email. She believes this system works for them because all of their roles are clearly defined. If anyone has a problem, they know exactly who to contact.

“As for the flexi-time, we’re fortunate that there’s no problem that can’t wait an hour, and if it really can’t wait we can make a plan to be available. It’s also important not to try juggle work and life because one of the two will come off short,” believes Stephens.

Read more on Nicole Stephens here.

Nkhensani Nkosi

Nkhensani Nkosi

Nkhensani Nkosi

  • Entrepreneur: Nkhensani Nkosi
  • Company: Stoned Cherrie
  • Family: Husband and four children
  • Contact: www.stonedcherrie.co.za

Nkhensani Nkosi is the designer and founder behind the uniquely South African brand, Stoned Cherrie. Since she launched her business in 2000, Nkosi has showcased her range at New York Fashion Week. Recently, Stoned Cherrie introduced the beautiful talents from New York-based South African designer Darryl Jagga.

Stoned Cherrie continues to grow and has recently expanded into eyewear – a firm favourite of several African and international icons, including South Africa’s pop singer, Lira.

The fashion enterprise has started to collect other ambitious fashion designers, who have a unique voice and interesting point of view.

Nkosi reveals: “When I get home every day I put on my multitude of ears to listen attentively to all the voices of my family competing for No 1 spot, trying to tell me stories about school and who said what, while brokering sibling peace… the list is endless.”

“The secret to being a successful businesswoman is about creating balance in life, taking care of your needs, spiritually, emotionally and physically as well as having a positive outlook.”

Nkosi spends most of her free time sitting with her children. She believes they make her appreciate being alive. “I also love family holidays. We recently went scuba diving and it was one of the best experiences of my life.”

Read more on Nkhensani Nkosi.

Amy Kleinhans-Curd

Amy-Kleinhans-Curd

Amy Kleinhans-Curd

  • Entrepreneur: Amy Kleinhans-Curd
  • Company: PLP Group
  • Family: Husband and four children
  • Contact: www.plp.co.za

Mother of four, famous Miss South Africa winner Amy Kleinhans-Curd knew she was going to be an entrepreneur at age 11.

Today, she’s better known for her role as co-founder and director of the PLP Group, as well as her involvement in numerous education-based businesses and organisations.

What most people don’t know about Kleinhans-Curd is that she has been in business for more than 23 years, “I still often feel like the smallest, the least experienced and the least knowledgeable. I don’t necessarily think this is a bad thing — it keeps me humble and it keeps me striving to know more.”

Being a mother of four means that juggling work and family can be a difficult balancing act, but Kleinhans-Curd takes it all in her stride.

“I believe that running a successful business and a successful family life does not need to be mutually exclusive. I have a passion to lead by example for my children and show them it’s possible to do both.

Because of this outlook my children have a very good understanding of the demands of the business world and they adapt exceptionally well to the frequent changes in our routine and our lifestyle accommodates for it. We all support and understand each other regardless of the demand on our lives. And I’m happy to say so far so good.”

Read more on Amy Kleinhans-Curd.

Michelle Okafor

Michelle-Okafor

Michelle Okafor

  • Entrepreneur: Michelle Okafor
  • Company: Michelle Okafor African Designs
  • Family: Husband and two children
  • Contact: www.michelleokafor.co.za

Michelle Okafor started her professional career as a travel agent, but on a trip to Nigeria she became inspired by all the beautiful, bright and eye-catching fabrics. Feeling inspired, she returned to South Africa, determined to create exquisite pieces for everyday wear using the fabrics she had seen.

Today, her distinctive and colourful designs can be found in boutiques and in her online store. Okafor’s collection includes everything from dresses to jackets, shoes and accessories. Her vision to combine traditional African culture with urbanity can clearly be seen in every piece.

During the development stages of Okafor’s fashion enterprise “I could only work on my designs after 8pm once my children had gone to bed,” so that she could spend as much time with them as possible.

Read more on Michelle Okafor.

Basetsana Kumalo

Basetsana-Kumalo

Basetsana Kumalo

  • Entrepreneur: Basetsana Kumalo
  • Company: Tswelopele Group
  • Family: Husband and three children
  • Contact: www.basetsanakumalo.com

Basetsana Kumalo won the Miss South Africa pageant as well as became the First Princess in the Miss World Competition. Kumalo used the networking opportunities involved to launch her professional career.

At 20, she helped negotiate the deal for Top Billing to become an independent production house. She managed to secure a 50% partnership in Top Billings production company, Tswelopele Productions. This was because of her involvement in and initialising of the negotiations. Kumalo reveals the secret to her success is “courage, determination, passion and staying committed to the course.”

Despite her many successes Kumalo tries to balance a successful and fulfilling career with family responsibilities.

Even though her family is high profile, the Kumalo’s keep their lives grounded and prioritise what is important such as quality time with family on the weekends.

Read more on Basetsana Kumalo here.

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10 Dynamic Black Entrepreneurs

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Nicole Crampton is an online writer for Entrepreneur Magazine. She has studied a BA Journalism at Monash South Africa. Nicole has also completed several courses in writing and online marketing.

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This Podcast Interview Will Inspire Every Business Women

Fumani Mthembi and Teresa Oakley-Smith, both MDs and founders of their own successful businesses, share their personal stories of fighting gender and racial stereotypes in pursuit of a dream. Mthembi and Oakley-Smith, spoke at an Investec Women in Leadership event, entitled, “The Courage to Change.” We bring you this inspirational podcast.

Investec Specialist Bank and Asset Management

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International Women’s Day highlights the imperative role women play in business, the economy and households. Whilst women have come a long way in terms of recognising their worth, we’ve got a long way to go – and that starts in the boardroom. According to an EY study, there is overwhelming evidence that links gender parity to innovation and improved financial performance.

Businesses with women in top management roles experienced an increase in “innovation intensity” and were worth, on average, about US$40m more than companies with only male leaders. Yet on average, in SA, women earn about 73% of what men earn. (Ipsos 2017 survey)

In a frank and honest chat with Investec, two inspirational female leaders, Fumani Mthembi and Teresa Oakley-Smith, share their extraordinary business journey from having “a big dream” to surviving through the mean and lean times.

Fumani Mthembi, is a founding member of the Pele Energy Group – South Africa’s largest 100% black-owned independent power production and development firm – and MD of its research and development subsidiary, Knowledge Pele (KP), and Teresa Oakley-Smith, is the founder of Diversi-T, a change management consultancy with a focus on transformation and diversity training.

Listen to the podcast below for the full interview.

Here are some of the stand-out highlights from the interview:

1. Overcoming challenges female entrepreneurs face

Both Fumani and Teresa believe that, based on their respective experiences, men don’t take women seriously.

iwd_teresa_fumani_article-image-option-2“It’s very common in my industry to attend a meeting and have all the men address each other and not you,” says Fumani.“So I’ll be sitting there and they’ll all have their backs turned and they’ll be having a conversation amongst themselves.”

“I’ve had to work twice or three times as hard as male competitors to gain a contract; I’ve had to bend over backwards to actually make sure that my delivery is ten times better,” says Teresa.

2. Breaking down stereotypes

“In households of dual income, often the woman is bringing in more than the man, yet when we have to approach institutions of power, we feel somehow belittled, or we somehow lack our courage in an appreciation of the power we actually hold,” says Teresa.

Related: Feel Like Quitting? These 9 Women Prove Grit Can Lead You To Massive Success

“One of my clients is a very large retail company and they only have one woman out of a board of 40, and I was challenging them by saying: Who does the shopping? Women hold the purse strings, women go to the supermarkets, so why are they not represented? Why are their voices not heard?”

3. Encouraging diversity in the workplace

Teresa work centres around helping employers create work environments that encourage intersectionality, and recognise women’s unique needs.

“Does your company provide proper facilities for breastfeeding women and supply feminine hygiene products in case a female staff member is in need?” asks Teresa.

 

4. Educating about the need for empowerment

Fumani’s aim when starting her company was to transform society through knowledge and power and make a difference through a legacy that creates a new kind of context in which people like herself – a young, black female entrepreneur – could operate. “We wanted to spread the justice dividend and to use our privilege responsibly,” she says.

In her experience, banks struggle to recognise the need for women to seek finance for start-ups, because “they don’t need to take on that kind of risk. And that’s the thing about this dual economy, and as women we represent that second economy,” she says

“We’re a new risk; the things we want to do in this economy are new. Everything we do and present is new and we can be disruptive. So while we can ask for change, we can also be the change, and we can create these institutions that really understand us.”

 5. Seizing the power within you

Both women agree that recognising the challenge of being a woman in South Africa, should lead to women standing together and reclaiming their power. “We can only own our power if we join together as women of all races, ages and abilities and understand each other,” says Teresa.

Related: A Great Time To Be A Woman In Business

Out of Fumani’s 25-strong staff complement, only five employees are men. She puts that down to the talent and intellect shown by her women employees. But this female-male mix is far from the norm. Why? “What I’ve often seen is that women are very risk averse they’re incredibly bright.

We just don’t want to take a bet on ourselves,” says Fumani. “All these institutions are growing on the back women’s efforts. There’s a reason why 54% of graduate are women – we can do it, it’s just a matter of taking that chance on yourself.”

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A Great Time To Be A Woman In Business

South Africa’s growing band of female entrepreneurs have many lessons to teach us all.

Morné Stoltz

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South Africa’s growing band of female entrepreneurs have many lessons to teach us all. In our first article in this feature, Marine Louw showed us the power of passion.

In this article, Cresi Heslop offers living proof that opportunities are everywhere – if we can see them and are prepared to seize them. She is building a business by identifying opportunities as they open up and then working hard to exploit them.

“It’s all about using what you have and thinking a bit laterally,” Heslop says.

Heslop and her husband started a youth sports blog in order to provide a motivational platform for a new generation of South African sportsmen and – women. They saw the blog, Heslop Sports, as a labour of love, with no commercial intent. However, spending so much time among athletes did reveal a potential commercial idea: a towel specially designed with sports in mind and that South African athletes could use with pride, especially at international events.

Related: Funding And Financial Assistance For SA Women Entrepreneurs

The result was a new business, Wonder Towel. Its flagship product is a microfibre towel designed to look like the South African flag, supplemented with a range of other microfibre products.

“Microfibre is environment-friendly because it’s so absorbent – it dries easily and stays fresh longer, and it takes less water to wash,” she says. “It’s also super light, thus great for travelling.”

Since then, the business has grown, selling primarily to the travel, beauty, baby and household markets, as well as the sports industry. Much of the selling is done via her online store and agents in Cape Town, Durban and Pretoria – as well as the e-commerce platforms. She singles out Takealot.com which, she says, does a great job in helping small businesses put themselves on the map.

She’s also just signed up a new distributor who is targeting independent schools, and schools with big water-sports teams.

Mentorship provided Heslop with welcomed inspiration and stability. She has built a solid relationship with a businesswoman who she respects enormously, Hendrien Kruger, the head of Inoar SA, which distributes a range of imported Brazilian hair products.

“We met seven years ago and I can turn to her at any point for sensible advice or just a good chat over a cuppa,” she says. “You should find some worthy people who inspire you in your field. They could even be people that you admire from a distance or whose books and lectures have become part of your way of seeing things.”

Because mentorship can play such a positive role, it’s vital that women offer themselves as mentors. Many successful women don’t realise how great an influence they could have on the next generation, starting what she calls a “cycle of future goodness”.

We’ve always heard about the power of the old boys’ club, and how it gives men a head start in business, but says Heslop, networks seem to be opening up.

“Female small-business owners are still in a bit of minority in South Africa, I believe however we are in a wonderful season of change at present,” she says.

Related: How Women Entrepreneurs Can Change the SA Business Landscape

“I recently had dealings with one of South Africa’s oldest and most established suppliers in a particular market sector, and I found them both welcoming and nurturing to an industry newcomer – something for which I am very grateful.”

Of course, entrepreneurs must also learn how to cope with challenges all the time. Heslop says that she keeps strong by sticking to a set of habits and actions. Her religious faith is an important mainstay and she daily affirms her commitment to making a difference, to being alert for hidden opportunities, and to spreading love and respect always.

“At the end of the day it will all boil down to confidence, belief in ourselves, joyous passion and delivering extremely high quality of products and services that will command respect and ensure us our rightful place in our beautiful nation’s economy,” she concludes.

MiWay is an Authorised Financial Services Provider (Licence no: 33970).

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Celebrating Women In The Signage And Printing Industry

The event will take place from 13-15 September at Gallagher Convention Centre.

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Women are increasingly making their mark on the traditionally male-dominated signage and printing industry. For those who want to enter this industry, or want to grow their businesses, the Sign Africa and FESPA Africa expo, co-located with Africa Print and Africa LED, offers many opportunities for entrepreneurs. The event will take place from 13-15 September at Gallagher Convention Centre.

Diane Jacobson, Managing Director at Ellis Lehman Signs, has been in the industry for 25 years, and enjoys being in a career that is dynamic, creative and interesting. ‘No two jobs are identical, and because it is an industry that serves a variety of businesses, it offers exposure to many types of people and companies,’ she said.

Related: Ideas To Start Your Own Business In Signage And Printing

‘I’ve worked with fantastic people and managed very interesting projects, from manufacturing plants to religious institutions, to petrochemical companies to retailers and sports events. I have met wonderful people over the years and have had the opportunity to travel to interesting places. It is an industry that has allowed me to grow my business skills in a creative space.’

Sign Africa candidates

Lehman’s key to success is understanding and servicing the needs of customers. ‘They are the lifeblood of all business. There is so much poor service out there, so doing things better and paying attention to detail and the final finished item sets anyone apart,’ she said.

Printing SA, the official trade federation representing printing, packaging and associated businesses in the industry, has a number of projects to empower women. The organisation runs a screen printing programme, which most recently trained 10 unemployed women from Cottonlands. The programme includes three elements: the theory of screen printing, practical application, and basic business skills that would assist in growing a small business.

A success story from the programme is Eunice Ngwenya, Managing Director of Eunique Printing, who completed Printing SA’s very first screen printing pilot course during 2014. Printing SA recommended Ngwenya to Konica Minolta South Africa.

Eunique Printing, which operates from Konica Minolta South Africa’s Johannesburg campus, has been in business for almost a year, employs three people and prints books, magazines, business cards, calendars, receipt books, brochures, invitations, photographs, as well as offering ring binding and glue binding services.

Ngwenya has always been interested in printing, and had done silk screening on plastic for 25 years. She is glad that she applied for the Printing SA training as it has led her to where she is today. ‘I’ve learnt so much from Printing SA, I wouldn’t be where I am without them, and with the help of Konica Minolta South Africa, I see myself going very far,’ she said.

Related: Celebrating The Multi-Faceted Woman

Sonja Groenewald is CEO of Colourtech Design & Print CEO, which has operated for 26 years. Its main focus is the publishing and education markets. The business has a unique set up as in addition to printing, there is also an in-house dispatch and deliveries division, which helps service 350,000 students.

Being in the printing industry, you’d think technology would be Colourtech’s most important asset, but it’s not. ‘Our staff are our most valuable resource – we consider each and every one of our employees as part of our family,’ said Groenewald.

They are integral to the business’ success. ‘I’ve always told my employees to treat each customer like royalty – whether a client is just popping in for a small pack of business cards, or taking on a major order. Good service is crucial.’


For more information about the Sign Africa, FESPA Africa, Africa Print and Africa LED expo’s, and to pre-register online, please visit: www.signafricaexpo.com/entrepreneur

 

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