Conversations with leading women in business

Mathiba Molefe

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The IAAE Tshwane panel consisted of Khanyi Dhlomo of Ndalo Media, Cynthia Mkhombo of Masana Hygiene and Lindiwe Shibambo of Maid 4 U. The host on the day was Lynette Ntuli, chief executive of Innate Investment Solutions and founder of Ignite SA (from left to right). (Images: Mathiba Molefe)

The panel of esteemed speakers at the latest leg of the I Am An Entrepreneur (IAAE) series in Tshwane drew a crowd of aspiring and up and coming business people who were interested in hearing the opinions of the panellists and how they had managed to overcome the challenges of being an entrepreneur.

The event’s focus was put firmly on the role that women have to play in developing South Africa’s economy. It touched on some of the challenges they face as well as opportunities available in the competitive and fast-growing field of entrepreneurship.

Most of the audience was made up of women looking to hear inspirational stories shared by guests present at Ditsong National Museum of Cultural History in Tshwane’s inner city.

The event, held on Saturday, 10 September, was hosted by Lynette Ntuli, a hugely successful entrepreneur and business women in her own right. She was joined on stage by Khanyi Dhlomo of Ndalo Media, Cynthia Mkhombo of Masana Hygiene and Lindiwe Shibambo of Maid 4 U.

Representatives from each of the partners Power FM 98.7, MTN Business, the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), Brand South Africa and Renault South Africa were also present to share their thoughts on the subject.

“I’m so happy to see so many beautiful, but also brilliant and motivated women out here today with us,” said Linda Sangaret, the chief marketing officer of Brand South Africa.

“But I wish to challenge you because I realise that, as women, we fight for so much, but also that all of this cannot be achieved if we don’t have our men fighting along our side.”

“If you’re here today ladies, it’s because you know you can play a part in changing our country. You know that you can create jobs and alleviate unemployment.”

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Most of the audience was made up of women looking to hear inspirational stories shared by guests present at Ditsong National Museum of Cultural History in Tshwane’s inner city.

PASSION WITH ACTION

Both the guest speakers and audience shared the sentiment that even though there is a lot being done to advance women’s involvement in the economy, there is still a way to go for women to properly tap their potential and become drivers of change and development.

“As to why this event is so important to me is that I know, as a woman in business, is that our experience of business is slightly different to that of men,” said Ntuli, getting discussions under way.

“We need to have our own conversations about our own participation in the economy.”

True to the aim of the event, the speakers delved further into issues like getting your business off the ground, the importance of being able to trust those you work with, putting your head down and putting in the hard hours, as well as ways to secure funding from bodies like the IDC.

“We all think that everybody is born successful, and that’s not the point,” Ntuli explained. “We’re all on a journey, and part of the journey is introspecting.”

The road to being a successful entrepreneur isn’t a straightforward one. It is fraught with challenges and obstacles that make it risky. But a genuine love for what you do and persevering during difficult times is what makes an entrepreneur according to the panel.

“Business is not all glamorous and nice. There will be failures, there will be hard times,” explained Shibambo. “Every time you face a failure, you face a challenge or you face a hard time. Always remember the last time you faced them and how you overcame them. Draw strength from that.

“There is no way that in life or in business that everything is going to be smooth and nice. That is a lie.”

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The event also afforded members of the audience a chance to interact with the panel that consisted of some of the country’s leading women in business.

MAKE IT HAPPEN

One of the event’s other aims was to reassure those who had fledgling careers in business or were in the early stages of starting their own businesses to continue striving for greatness and have faith in their ability to make a difference in South Africa.

Speakers also encouraged people, women in particular, to start their own businesses and take advantage of investors looking to harness their great potential.

“What would you do if you were not afraid,” asked Naomi Mtshali of the IDC. “Why are you not doing it? What is stopping you?”

PLAY YOUR PART

Are you playing your part to help improve the lives of those around you through business? Do you know of any business person who has gone out of their way to help improve South Africa and its people?

If so, submit your story or video to our website and let us know what you are doing to improve the country for all.