Spe­cial Re­port – Class of 2018

Let us em­brace and be in­spired by these women whose ven­tures em­power and nur­ture other sis­ters to suc­ceed

True Love - - CONTENTS -


LETLHOGONOLO LETSHOLONYANE, 28, Founder of Own It Start Up Academy, which helps bud­ding fash­ion en­trepreneurs get started and teaches them the work­ings of the man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor in South Africa. “For me, up­skilling fe­male en­trepreneurs is all about cre­at­ing a com­mu­nity of en­trepreneurs to con­sume each other’s prod­ucts and con­trib­ute to the econ­omy. I want to change the wealth nar­ra­tive for young black women. Fi­nan­cial well-be­ing’s about hav­ing mul­ti­ple streams of in­come. They don’t have to leave their nine-to-five jobs to run a suc­cess­ful start-up. I want to show an eas­ier way to make it in fash­ion man­u­fac­tur­ing and to re­vive the in­dus­try.”


Ndoni Mcunu, 28, Founder of Black Women in Science (BWIS), a regis­tered NPO that aims to de­velop writ­ing and train­ing skills for black women in science, in their fi­nal year of study right up to PhD level. An Ap­plied En­vi­ron­men­tal Science Mas­ter’s grad­u­ate, she’s cur­rently pur­su­ing a PhD at Wits Univer­sity’s Global Change In­sti­tute. “The de­ci­sion to es­tab­lish BWIS was in­spired by my own jour­ney in the sci­en­tific field. Through­out var­sity, I had never been lec­tured or su­per­vised by black fe­males. This pointed to the dire short­age of black fe­males in science. Lead­ing and ad­vanc­ing oth­ers comes nat­u­rally to women and that there is such a huge short­age of them in lead­ing in­dus­tries is some­thing that still bog­gles my mind. Had I been ex­posed to many black women quite early on in my stud­ies, a PhD wouldn’t have been some­thing I stumbled upon but some­thing I as­pired to. The more of us in pre­vi­ously male-dom­i­nated fields, the bet­ter the chances of new gen­er­a­tions re­al­is­ing any­thing’s at­tain­able. The re­cent ap­point­ments of black fe­males to Vice-Chan­cel­lor po­si­tions has made me believe that I can break any bar­rier.”


NONHLE MATSEBULA, 23, Founder of Girl Boss SA, a mul­ti­me­dia plat­form part­ner­ing with young women aged 16-25 with am­bi­tions of some­day be­ing ‘Girl Bosses’. A Girl Boss is a young woman who understands that she’s in charge and can de­ter­mine the course of her life, re­gard­less of her start­ing point. “It took me for­ever to fig­ure out what I wanted to do. I ini­tially wanted my ca­reer choices to be guided by the po­ten­tial to make a com­fort­able liv­ing, in­stead of mak­ing a dif­fer­ence and fol­low­ing my pas­sion. I needed a space that didn’t judge or dic­tate, so I created that plat­form for my­self and oth­ers with the same strug­gles. In­stead of sub­scrib­ing to ‘The Fu­ture Is Fe­male’, we in­stead believe ‘The Present Is Fe­male’. The fu­ture never comes. We want women to live their best lives now.”


Lebohang Masango, 27, au­thor of Mpumi’s Magic Beads, a chil­dren’s book about the magic of black girl’s hair. The book uses nat­u­ral hair as an en­try point to a big­ger con­ver­sa­tion about self-love and iden­tity. “I felt it was nec­es­sary to write

Mpumi’s Magic Beads be­cause it’s im­por­tant for chil­dren’s imag­i­na­tions to be stim­u­lated. I aim to do that with a re­lat­able story that rep­re­sents the re­al­i­ties of ur­ban chil­dren in South Africa. It’s in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant to have rep­re­sen­ta­tive art and books in the world be­cause it gives young and old a spring­board for their own imag­i­na­tions. By ex­ist­ing, we show what’s pos­si­ble and we make it eas­ier for those com­ing af­ter us to dream big­ger and build upon our foun­da­tions.”



Founder of Col­lec­tive In­tel­li­gence, a le­gal con­sult­ing com­pany spe­cial­is­ing in com­mer­cial law and in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty law. She es­tab­lished the com­pany with a view of pro­vid­ing start-up to medi­um­sized busi­nesses with com­pre­hen­sive and rea­son­able le­gal ser­vices. But, she later changed direc­tion when she no­ticed that the ev­ery­day woman needs to lib­er­ate her­self by be­ing ad­e­quately in­formed about ba­sic le­gal prin­ci­ples such as do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, main­te­nance, cus­tody, di­vorce and many other le­gal mat­ters. “There is a Rupi Kaur quote that con­stantly re­minds me why I am hon­oured to be a woman who is in­vested in em­pow­er­ing other women. It reads: ‘I stand on the sac­ri­fices of a mil­lion women be­fore me think­ing, what can I do to make this moun­tain taller so the women af­ter me can see far­ther.’ I am par­tic­u­larly pas­sion­ate about ad­vanc­ing women be­cause the law fra­ter­nity is mostly dom­i­nated by white males. The no­tion that women who are suc­cess­ful in the le­gal pro­fes­sion pri­mar­ily made it based on Em­ploy­ment Equity re­quire­ments, as op­posed to merit, is one that I look for­ward to some­day squan­der­ing. I al­ways rel­ish the op­por­tu­nity to read or hear about black women who are shat­ter­ing glass ceil­ings and scribe their names in our his­tory books as ‘the first black woman to achieve some­thing. It is our duty as women to con­tinue uplift­ing one an­other un­til such a time that it be­comes a norm for women to hold high po­si­tions in cor­po­rate and gov­ern­ment.”


Dr Theo MothoaFrendo, 40, Founder and CEO of Uso by African Der­mal Science, a skin-care range specif­i­cally created for women with darker skin tones in mind. “I treat Women’s Month as an op­por­tu­nity to im­merse my­self in con­nect­ing, shar­ing and learn­ing from other women’s jour­neys. There’s never been a time like this be­fore. Op­por­tu­ni­ties are abound and it’s up to all of us to find just that one thing that will make us more con­fi­dent, pro­vide more courage and op­por­tu­ni­ties for us and other women. My job is to give women a ra­di­ant, healthy skin and sprin­kling some melanin magic amidst a sea of for­eign brand dom­i­nated skin­care stores, while cre­at­ing qual­ity em­ploy­ment.”


Zizipho Nto­bong­wana, 24, Founder of Sheba Fem­i­nine Hy­giene, a men­strual care com­pany. Sheba pro­duces 100% or­ganic cot­ton and biodegrad­able men­strual care prod­ucts. “Fem­i­nine hy­giene prod­ucts pro­duc­ers don’t have our best in­ter­ests at heart. I knew that I needed to do bet­ter. Women’s Month is a great time to raise aware­ness for woman who are poorly rep­re­sented. The fu­ture is far from fe­male – it’s beau­ti­fully queer.”


Zi­masa QolohleMabuse, 28, Ed­i­tor of The Cor­po­rate Can­vas, a con­tem­po­rary on­line ca­reer, fi­nance and life­style mag­a­zine for young pro­fes­sion­als. “For years, I longed to find a woman who’d be will­ing to take me un­der her wing and help me with my ca­reer and life tra­jec­tory. I saw it fit to be that kind of woman to other women and younger girls .”


Them­bisile Nh­lapo, 29, co-owner of Nib­ble Wax Bar, a wax­ing bou­tique pro­vid­ing a wide range of wax­ing ser­vices for women. “If you give one woman an op­por­tu­nity to earn an in­come, you feed a whole na­tion. We thrive on cre­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for other women at ev­ery point of the sup­ply chain. Women’s Month’s an op­por­tu­nity to cel­e­brate and recog­nise women from all walks of life.”


DUDU AND SMANGELE MATHEBULA, 31 Di­rec­tors of BoMMe Sup­port Group, a sup­port net­work for moth­ers. These twin aca­demics, heal­ers, cre­ative and moms believe mother­hood should be a beau­ti­ful ex­pe­ri­ence. “BoMMe (mean­ing moth­ers in Se­sotho) came as a re­sult of us miss­ing the sup­port our own late mother used to give us with our chil­dren. This ini­tia­tive has en­abled us to share spir­i­tual and prac­ti­cal re­sources; a far-reach­ing net­work sup­port­ing moth­ers with care pack­ages, spir­i­tual and prac­ti­cal care so­lu­tions.”


MLIBO BASHE, 27 AND GUGU NOJINGE, 24 Founders of Le Brunch SA, a fa­cil­i­tated brunch-cum-high tea built on the ethos of ‘bring good vibes and a smile’, where young women from di­verse back­grounds net­work and learn. “We’re pas­sion­ate about giv­ing back and con­tribut­ing to the eman­ci­pa­tion of the girl child. In a world that’s highly pa­tri­ar­chal and ageist, young women find them­selves in a co­nun­drum, fac­ing a dou­ble bur­den brought about by their gender and age, and fall­ing through the cracks of gov­ern­ment pro­grammes.”


NOMZAMO MJI, 37 AND NOSIZWE MJI, 35 Founders of Heart Leads is the Way (HLTW), a busi­ness spe­cial­is­ing in the de­sign and pro­duc­tion of beaded shoes and ac­ces­sories with the help of a net­work of fe­male bead­ers in KZN. “We’re women of Zulu and Xhosa de­scent who send love let­ters to the world through strik­ing prod­ucts and de­signs. Some­times we like think­ing of our busi­ness as a ‘dial-a-beader ser­vice’. Many of the bead­ers we work with are the sole bread­win­ners in their homes. Ev­ery time we send through an or­der to them, we’re con­tribut­ing to their abil­ity to sup­port their fam­i­lies — and that fills our hearts with so much joy. Many bead­ers have the raw tal­ent but lack the know-how to cost their labour, pro­mote their work or mod­ify it for dif­fer­ent au­di­ences. ”


Mo­latelo Mainetjie, 42, Award­win­ning doc­u­men­tary pro­ducer and di­rec­tor gives an hon­est ac­count of her ex­pe­ri­ence with in­fer­til­ity in the doc­u­men­tary film When Ba­bies Don’t Come. The doc­cie places a spot­light on mod­ern and tra­di­tional medicines as pos­si­ble so­lu­tions to in­fer­til­ity. “I believe an em­pow­ered woman has a voice and au­to­mat­i­cally com­mands re­spect. The power in us can only be un­leashed when we em­power our­selves and each other. My story is the story of ev­ery woman strug­gling with in­fer­til­ity — this film is for them and the close peo­ple in their lives.”


LEANNE DLAMINI, 33, Mu­si­cian, song­writer and founder of End Girl Hate, a move­ment aim­ing to break down the bar­ri­ers women build amongst them­selves. “We need to sup­port one an­other, butwe don’t — it’s as sim­ple as that! As a black woman rais­ing black girls, I needed to make this change not just for my­self and those around me, but es­pe­cially for my daugh­ters. We need to al­ways strive to be the best ver­sions of our­selves. Find your pas­sion and live it with in­ten­tion ev­ery day. One woman can make a dif­fer­ence, but to­gether we can change the world! Don’t for­get to al­ways be kind.”


THANDO NAVES, 31, Founder of the award-win­ning Mod­ern Zulu Mom, a par­ent­ing blog that ex­plores in­ter­est­ing par­ent­ing meth­ods and is packed with prac­ti­cal tips. “I started my blog to share glimpses of my par­ent­ing ex­pe­ri­ences with other moms. I found the chal­lenges of par­ent­ing some­times make moms feel iso­lated and this is min­imised when we share our con­cerns with oth­ers. I’d like women to draw in­spi­ra­tion and en­cour­age­ment, while bear­ing in mind there’s no per­fect for­mula to par­ent­ing. We need to give our­selves per­mis­sion to evolve and grow.”


Nkuli Mlan­geni, 36, Tex­tile de­signer and founder of The Ninevites, a col­lab­o­ra­tive plat­form and de­sign stu­dio that ex­plores un­der-told nar­ra­tives of life from South­ern Africa us­ing tex­tiles, de­sign and im­agery. Her Sankara Rug was named 2017’s Most Beau­ti­ful Ob­ject in South Africa at De­sign Ind­aba. “I choose to col­lab­o­rate with women be­cause they carry a lot of un­tapped knowl­edge and skills. I’m not just pas­sion­ate about em­pow­er­ing women, but also com­mit­ted to uplift­ing black peo­ple, young peo­ple and peo­ple work­ing in the cre­ative and craft spa­ces, be­cause I know what it’s like to be treated as the un­der­dog based on your skin colour.”


NOMNDENI MDAKHI, 34, Founder of Agenda Women, an on­line and off­line events plat­form for women seek­ing to con­nect with like-minded women, with con­tent help­ing them grow in their per­sonal and pro­fes­sional lives. “Women’s Month feels like a month-long party where we keep hon­our­ing the dif­fer­ent parts of all that make us beau­ti­ful. I believe in the power of women to cre­ate ex­po­nen­tial change. Per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences also in­form a lot of what we en­gage in. I re­alise a lot of women long for spa­ces in which they can con­nect with like­minded women on con­ver­sa­tions that help them be bet­ter and do more.”


ATHAMBILE MASOLA, 31, Co-founder of Molo Mh­laba School for Girls, a pan-African low-cost pri­vate school with a spe­cial fo­cus on pro­vid­ing qual­ity STEAM sub­jects (science, tech­nol­ogy, engi­neer­ing, art and math­e­mat­ics) and life skills. “With­out women in these fields, our devel­op­ment as a na­tion and the world be­comes in­hib­ited. Through in­no­va­tion and em­pow­er­ment, in the fu­ture, young girls will be­come women who change the world through their work. With­out a qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion they won’t be able to com­pete in this fastchang­ing world where crit­i­cal skills cou­pled with a strong char­ac­ter will be of para­mount im­por­tance.”


Kim Nok­waza, 30, Founder of the blog Ode to Style, which of­fers uplift­ing ca­reer and fi­nan­cial in­sights, as well as fash­ion in­spi­ra­tion. “By day, I’m a Trust Spe­cial­ist in the wealth clus­ter of a bank­ing in­sti­tu­tion. My ex­po­sure to this niche in­dus­try has trans­formed how I ap­proach my per­sonal fi­nances. While many women are only clued up with man­ag­ing fam­ily fi­nances, some de­fer crit­i­cal fi­nan­cial de­ci­sions to their hus­bands or male part­ners. I’d like to in­flu­ence chang­ing this ten­dency. Ode to Style is no or­di­nary blog — it is a plat­form that gives my peers an op­por­tu­nity to re­view their ca­reers, fi­nances and to lead mean­ing­ful lives.”


Thiwe Mbola, 34, Mu­si­cian and founder of Women in Mu­sic SA, an ini­tia­tive aimed at em­pow­er­ing up-and-com­ing fe­male artists by ed­u­cat­ing them about the busi­ness of mu­sic and prov­ing a plat­form for them to show­case their mu­si­cal tal­ent. “Can you imag­ine a world where women from all fields stood to­gether? Can you imag­ine where we helped each other break down bar­ri­ers? Can you imag­ine what we could achieve? I’ve al­ways been pas­sion­ate about women sup­port­ing each other be­cause there’s so much we can achieve by work­ing to­gether and show­ing up for each other. I may not be able to give these young fe­male artists suc­cess­ful ca­reers, but I can sure give them the tools they need to build suc­cess­ful mu­sic ca­reers. I want to bring to life a cul­ture of gen­uine sis­ter­hood in the mu­sic in­dus­try.”


VUYISWA MOTHLABANE, 35, Owner of Preloved Bridal, a de­signer wed­ding dress bou­tique that pro­vides af­ford­able bridal wear to savvy fash­ion­ista brides by re­selling pre-owned wed­ding gowns. The busi­ness has ex­panded to of­fer­ing bridal ex­pe­ri­ences through bridal pop-ups in ho­tels and var­i­ous wed­ding venues. “Whether a cleaner or a CEO, ev­ery woman de­serves to wear the dress of their dreams on their spe­cial day. What sparked the idea of start­ing a busi­ness where brides would sell their wed­ding dresses to me and I’d then re­sell them to prospec­tive clients, was when I saw brides who didn’t have the means to splurge on a de­cent gown. I want Preloved Bridal to be more than a bridal shop but more a sis­ter­hood where we help brides cre­ate mem­o­rable ex­pe­ri­ences on a bud­get. I pride my­self on en­cour­ag­ing my clients not to over­spend on a dress for a once-off event, but to rather use their wed­ding bud­get ef­fec­tively, and to avoid start­ing their mar­ried life drown­ing in debt.”


Katleho Tsoku, 33, founder of YHER, an ac­cel­er­a­tor pro­gramme that hopes to pro­duce in­vestible fe­male-led and im­pact­ful ven­tures, and to con­trib­ute to in­creas­ing the num­ber of fe­male role mod­els for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. “My own per­sonal jour­ney of be­ing a fe­male en­tre­pre­neur, the strug­gles that came with it, plus the con­se­quent clo­sure of my first busi­ness ven­ture, mo­ti­vated me to es­tab­lish YHER. I was in pur­suit of ways to en­rich and cel­e­brate young women who were risk­ing it all to cre­ate im­pact­ful and vi­able ven­tures. I call my­self, ‘a fe­male en­trepreneur­ship cheer­leader’. I’m also a huge ad­vo­cate for so­cial en­trepreneur­ship, and believe con­scious busi­ness is the only way we should be do­ing busi­ness, es­pe­cially on the African con­ti­nent. The so­cial ills that this con­ti­nent faces is a glar­ing op­por­tu­nity for en­trepreneurs. YHER is a mar­riage of these two pas­sions of mine.”


THOLAKELE KELLY THELA, 32, Founder of Young Wives SA, a plat­form created to em­power, en­lighten and mo­ti­vate women. This on­line plat­form ex­ists for those in search of like­minded women who will stand by and as­sist them as they grow in their new re­la­tion­ship or sin­gle­hood chap­ters. “I got mar­ried at a 19 and three years into my mar­riage, I re­mem­ber yearn­ing for a safe space where I could be my­self with­out any­one say­ing I had achieved a lot only be­cause I was young and mar­ried. I de­test the idea that mar­riage is an achieve­ment and mar­ried friends should be given space! I come from a fam­ily where we didn’t have much but my mother gen­uinely loves peo­ple so much, that our house had — and still does to this day — peo­ple stay­ing over. I knew early I’d run a women’s or­gan­i­sa­tion. ”

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