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South Africa

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Women on top

Text: Amanda Ndlangisa. Pictures: Isaac Mofokeng. Article from the August 2012 issue of Bona Magazine.

Five achieving ladies share how they’ve shaped their own lives and give advice on how to find and keep your success.
Penelope Tidimalo Sehemo (26) from Vosloorus is the owner of a Sorbet Salon in Rosebank.

About me

Penelope Tidimalo Sehemo (26) from Vosloorus is the owner of a Sorbet Salon in Rosebank.I was born and raised in Vosloorus and the youngest of two siblings. I was raised more like an only child because of the 12 year age gap between myself and my brother. I was daddy’s little girl but unfortunately I lost him in 1997. This was when I realised what a phenomenal woman my mom is as she was strong for all of us and made sure that the dreams they both had for us never fell short. She made sure I went to good schools, sacrificing holidays and other self-rewarding things in order for me to get the very best. In 2003, I lost my brother to pneumonia (same as my dad) and that was also very traumatic.

My turning point

After matriculating I took a gap year, then decided to study Somatology (study of the human body) for three years, but I fell pregnant in my first year. I wanted to drop out but my mom encouraged me not to. She told me that I will give birth at college if I have to but dropping out was not an option. Although she was extremely disappointed in my pregnancy she has helped with raising my boy while I carried on with my studies. Six months into my first year I fell in love with Somatology. I knew at college level that I would one day own a salon. I started working for Sorbet while completing my course. I fell in love with the Sorbet style and Ian Fuhr’s (my then boss) style of leadership. When he started talking about franchising the business I knew that this was the place to invest. I graduated in 2008 and continued working for Sorbet for two years, shuffling between two of their stores – Sandton and Hyde Park. In October 2009, they opened a store in Rosebank where I took on the full time position as a therapist.

Look at me now

I now own and manage my own Sorbet Salon at The Zone in Rosebank. Sorbet offers a wide variety of face and body treatments such as facials, massages, manicures, pedicures, waxing and artificial nails. The best part of my job is making people feel good about themselves, as cliche as this may be, it’s the absolute truth. The fact that people trust us so much to allow us into their personal space makes me feel good about myself and the service I provide.

My best advice
  • When starting or owning a franchise try saving as much money as possible because the banks will require you to have at least 50% of the total set up cost. Also know what the franshisor will require from you on a monthly basis like royalties, marketing fees and all the other services the franchisor may offer.
  • Be prepared for hard work: Mentally and physically you will have to work hard and be familiar with the industry that you work in. This will help with being actively involved in your business’ everyday running.
  • Be passionate about what you are doing. This makes it easier to deal with challenges.

For more information on business funding contact Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) on 0860 103 703 or National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) on 0860 096 884.

Buhle Mkhize (28) from Eshowe (KZN) now lives in America. Buhle is a fashion designer and reporter.

About me

I was born in Eshowe, KZN and raised in Gezinsila, a place best known as Emagogogweni (because the houses were made from tins). My family lived in a one bedroom house that my father built himself. Poverty ruled, but I considered myself rich because we had bread every day. I had heard that people in other neighbouring communities had telephones and electricity but my family never had such luxuries. My dream was to be an attorney or a journalist.

The turning point

Buhle Mkhize (28) from Eshowe (KZN) now lives in America. Buhle is a fashion designer and reporter.

My mother died when I was 12 years old. My father’s job, as a bakery driver made him work odd hours, making it impossible for him to look after me. He was advised to relocate me because I was becoming a woman. A friend offered to let me live with them in Durban. In high school, I made friends with a girl named Adele Finger. We got close and soon her family started chatting with my father. Before I knew it I was living with them. After matric, Adele’s mom suggested that we go overseas and be au pairs (a nanny in another country). That’s how my big career started. I first started as an au pair in Amsterdam then moved to London with the same family. When I moved to the US, it proved to be harder than I thought. I lived with three families in one year and my work permit expired leaving me with no money. I eventually got into abusive relationships in hopes of getting a green card (American citizenship). As an au pair I was around rich people. I started getting invites to the ‘right parties’ and made the ‘right friends’ who loved my fashion sense. The invites to fashion shows came and soon I was working in the fashion industry. I met models and designers who helped me open my shop.

Look at me now

I now run a fashion boutique called Lime Designs in Manhattan (New York). I visit designer showrooms so I can pre-select what I will sell for the different seasons. I contribute to local fashion magazines and dress clients for events like the Grammy’s. I have also started an image consulting business. I also do a frequent style feature on Gagasi FM in SA and am currently working on a lip gloss line. The best part of my job is definitely the people and celebs I meet and the events I attend, which is something I never thought would happen to me.

My best advice
  • Work hard: Working in a foreign country means working even harder and having to always keep your ears open for opportunities.
  • Never give up: NO is not a NEVER, so don’t quit just because someone turned you down the first time.

For more information on fashion studies contact LISOF (Gauteng) on 011 788 4432 or the Durban University of Technology on 031 373 2000.

Lebo Mokgabudi (29) from Johannesburg holds an MBA qualification and is an entrepreneur who owns a shoe boutique called Budi Shoes.

I was born in Soweto and was fortunate enough to attend some of the best schools and universities that South Africa could offer. I have worked for two of South Africa’s biggest corporates namely, Deloitte and Nedbank. I have lived in Johannesburg all my life and was lucky to have had opportunities to travel the world. Travelling exposed me to different cultures and perspectives in life. I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur for as long as I can remember.

My turning point

Lebo Mokgabudi (29) from Johannesburg holds an MBA qualification and is an entrepreneur who owns a shoe boutique called Budi Shoes.

After matric, I completed a BCom degree in finance from the university of Witwatersrand. I worked as a consultant at Deloitte and then went into financial services and worked for Nedbank. I explored my entrepreneurial desires and enrolled in a full-time Entrepreneurship MBA (Master of Business Administration) at Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) in lllovo, Johannesburg. It was during this MBA programme that I realised that I could not ignore the urge start my own business. I have finished my MBA this year.

Look at me now

I am now the managing director for a shoe boutique called Budi Shoes. Since the company is still a small business, I take care of everything – from business operations to sales, marketing and even HR. I am responsible for managing supplier relationships, trend analysis, stock control and driving sales. I currently sell Budi Shoes from a studio in Fourways which means gaining new customers is a challenge. The best part about my job is seeing happy people walk out of my shop with beautiful shoes.

My best advice
  • A business plan is the foundation of the business; however actually following it requires determination, courage, an understanding of the market and a stroke of luck!
  • Surround yourself with other entrepreneurs and be self-motivated.
  • Listen to the market and be fast enough to respond to market needs.

For more information on MBA studies contact Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) 011 771 4000 or visit www.mba.co.za for MBA degrees and Business Schools in South Africa.

Nyiko Chauke (23) from Polokwane is a Regional Systems Support at Citi Bank’s head office maintenance for Sub Saharan, North African and Middle Eastern countries.

About me

Nyiko Chauke (23) from Polokwane is a Regional Systems Support at Citi Bank's head office maintenance for Sub Saharan, North African and Middle Eastern countries.I grew up in Polokwane in a loving and supportive family environment. My parents ensured that I was well educated and that I continued with my education and worked towards a meaningful career. I have always wanted to be a teacher – I had a passion for kids but circumstances and society changed my dreams. It’s a great opportunity to be able to do what you love but unfortunately sometimes in life a different route has to be taken to serve a purpose. However, I did not let go of my passion for teaching, I am currently involved in a charity organisation called ‘Operation Hope’, where we go to disadvantaged schools like Alexandra High School and teach them the basics of banking.

My turning point

During my first year at university I saw that there was a big difference between high school and university, and as a result I worked hard to obtain my degree in financial management. My parents divorced during that first year of varsity. This really tested my faith, personality and strength, as I was also dealing with my exams at that time and I had no choice but to keep my mind intact. The mind is by far the hardest to control but once you gain victory over it, you can get through any obstacle. I made sure I had a team of people surrounding and supporting me. I was very ambitious and goal driven and by the age of 22, I had two qualifications and studying towards a third one. Being chosen for the graduate programme at Citi Bank was my first step to success as it allowed me to gain employment at one of the largest institutions in the world. Over the years I realised that reality is only temporary as any situation can be changed in the blink of an eye if the desire is strong enough.

Look at me now

I am a Regional Systems Support in Citi Bank’s head office maintenance for Sub Sahara, North Africa and for middle Eastern countries. My job has made me financially independent – I am now in a position to contribute financially to helping my family. I have a perspective of what it is like to manage finances and it has also helped me in preparing mentally for the day I start my own family. The role requires me to work within and outside of South Africa. Working for Citi Bank has provided me with countless global opportunities that I will never have to settle for one path.

My best advice
  • Study further: A higher education qualification will help you take charge of your future.
  • Don’t rush any decision until you have considered all your options.
  • Surround yourself with people who share the same goals and remember that obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goals.

For more information on financial management studies contact UNISA on 012 352 4288.

Tshepiso Ramotsehoa (25) from the Vaal (Johannesburg) owns Liqueed Coaching, a coaching company that is focused on youth and career development. She is also a sales consultant for Avocado Vision, a training company that focuses on life-changing training to communities across South Africa.

All about me

Tshepiso Ramotsehoa (25) from the Vaal (Johannesburg) owns Liqueed Coaching, a coaching company that is focused on youth and career development. She is also a sales consultant for Avocado Vision, a training company that focuses on life-changing training to communities across South Africa.My parents played a big role in what I have become. My dad is an attorney and I would watch him help people regardless of their social or financial standing and this greatly influenced my love of people. My mom was also very clever as my brother and I were taught in a church school. My parents were supportive, but like all parents they worried that I wasn’t showing enough initiative to go out into the world and create a life for myself.

As a result they would constantly ask what my plans were, and seeing as I didn’t really have any, they worried.

My turning point

My mom suggested I do coach training courses she had completed but I wasn’t interested in being a coach. I was on school holidays and would have preferred going out with my friends, but after much persuasion, I agreed. I studied consciousness coaching through Consciousness Coaching International. It was important for me to get an internationally accredited qualification so that I could work on a global platform. The course was a shock to me and it soon became a sink or swim situation. I realised that I had been given a great opportunity to see what I was made of. In order to get the greatest value from the programme I had to let go of being shy and stop using it as a reason for not stepping up. At the age of 21 I qualified as a coach. Even though I didn’t have much life experience, I did remain professional and used the tools I learnt to overcome challenges.

Look at me now

I have my own company called Liqueed Coaching, which I started in 2008. We coach interns for various companies.

At Avocado Vision, I work primarily for South African Breweries which is amazing. In 2011, I was selected as one of SA’s Brightest Young Minds. I went off to Switzerland to represent SA at an international youth conference called One Young World. This year, I will be off to China to develop a coaching programme, then to Russia to represent SA at a young entrepreneur conference and to the USA to represent SA at One Young World again. What I enjoy the most about my job is the travelling and being able to represent SA in other countries. But what fills me up the most is seeing my students climb the corporate ladder.

My best advice
  • Don’t give up: I really worked on my ability to bounce back from closed doors, and when opportunities fell apart.
  • Keep good company: Surrounding myself with friends who were also starting their own ventures and experiencing the same challenges as me made it easier.

For more information on coaching studies email info@consciousnesscoaching.co.za or call Liqueed Coaching on 082 708 8692.

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