Busi­ness woman ex­cels in school of life

Vuk'uzenzele - - Yoguetnhefroaclus - Hlengiwe Ngob­ese

A KWAZULU-NA­TAL woman is a busi­ness suc­cess, thanks to her own de­ter­mi­na­tion and a help­ing hand from Ithala De­vel­op­ment Fi­nance Cor­po­ra­tion.

Achal­leng­ing child­hood and lit­tle for­mal ed­u­ca­tion did not stop Nokuthula Dladla from fol­low­ing her dream and be­com­ing a suc­cess­ful busi­ness­woman.

The 59-year-old owns Me­gaphase Roads and Civil, which spe­cialises in man­u­fac­tur­ing road signs, road mark­ings and road con­struc­tion. Founded in 2009, it is based in KwaZulu-Na­tal and has a satel­lite branch in Jo­han­nes­burg. Me­gaphase has 81 em­ploy­ees and has given many a per­son de­nied an ed­u­ca­tion a chance to prove them­selves and live a dig­ni­fied life.

Dladla be­lieves a per­son’s past should not de­ter­mine their fu­ture and this phi­los­o­phy has helped her win a num­ber of awards, in­clud­ing over­all win­ner of the pres­ti­gious an­nual Tech­nol­ogy for Women in Busi­ness Awards hosted by the De­part­ment of Trade and In­dus­try; and the Op­er­a­tional Ex­cel­lence in the Man­u­fac­tur­ing Sec­tor Award in the Ithala Busi­ness Achiev­ers Awards.

Be­fore open­ing Me­gaphase, Dladla worked as petrol at­ten­dant, a sales per­son in a fur­ni­ture shop and at a bank.

“While I was work­ing at Ned­bank, one of my clients spot­ted my po­ten­tial and snapped me up to man­age his road signs busi­ness,” she said, adding that she earned a top salary and within a few months was driv­ing a Mer­cedes.

“But my heart was not happy be­cause I had not ful­filled my dream of own­ing my own com­pany. I even­tu­ally stepped out on my own and started this man­u­fac­tur­ing busi­ness,” she said.

She said the big­gest chal­lenge she en­coun­tered in es­tab­lish­ing her busi­ness was be­ing taken se­ri­ously in a male-dom­i­nated in­dus­try. “I have years of ex­pe­ri­ence in this sec­tor and know the busi­ness ex­ten­sively. How­ever, I some­times get side­lined sim­ply be­cause I am a woman,” she said.

While Dladla sold the sig­nage man­u­fac­tur­ing divi­sion of the com­pany in July to em­power four em­ploy­ees who started the busi­ness with her in 2009, she still runs the road mark­ing and road con­struc­tion di­vi­sions. She said as part of the take-over agree­ment, she is go­ing to men­tor them for three years.

She had this mes­sage for en­trepreneurs: Work hard on your dreams. Be will­ing to learn and to make sac­ri­fices and re­mem­ber there are many gov­ern­ment en­ti­ties will­ing to fund vi­able start-ups.

Nokuthula Dladla, owner of Me­gaphase Road and Civil.

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