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Some women look unemployment in the face without fear. When Lona Mnguni found herself unemployed after leaving her service consultancy job, she came up with Gracenet Logistics.

Gracenet is a social entrepreneurship venture that aims to improve livelihoods in rural areas and townships in South Africa through logistics and distribution. When Lona shared her story with SLA, we learned that she has high strengths in empathy and motivation.

Lona lets us know her tips on keeping herself and her small team motivated. She also reminded us of the importance of leading from a place of understanding.

Tell us about the inspiration that led you to start Gracenet Logistics?

Starting Gracenet Logistics was a case of making lemonade out of lemons while simultaneously creating an impact in rural areas. I grew up in a rural town and during school holidays, we would visit “home” in our rurals. I’ve always wanted to improve life for those who live in rural areas in one way or another.

The opportunity presented itself at a time where I found myself unemployed. The only experience and qualifications I had were in banking, logistics and customer service.

What better way to create the impact I wanted, create employment and also do something about my own unemployment than to create something that will combine my interests? Gracenet brings together my love for rural areas and the lack of access to resources because of a delay in logistics to them. As well as procedures and customer satisfaction measures that would ensure that timelines are in place and communicated to the end user.

Why did you decide to leave your job as a service consultant?

I wanted more, I had worked in my job for two years and found that in that time it was going to take me ages to move on to the next level. I wanted growth, and to develop as an individual.

When I resigned, I had not resigned with the intention to start Gracenet. I resigned to join another organization in a position just above the one I was in. However, things backfired and the position was not available anymore by the time I had finished serving notice.

Why do you think little attention is paid to deliveries in rural areas and townships?

I would say it’s the roads. Also, the task that it is to actually deviate from a route that is on the main road to then get onto a gravel road.

Most big companies have set routes and this would mean that there would be a delay in their delivery times.

What was the situation that lead to resources such as school books and medication sitting for days on end in warehouses? What prevented them from being distributed?

Delivering to rural areas, more so to public institutions, is not as easy as putting the address in the GPS and driving thereThis is because the address might not be there or may be inaccurate.

Sometimes, even when the drivers get to the area that they are delivering to, they still need to ask for directions. With school books for example, before leaving we would have to call the school to find out where they are located.

All of this takes effort and I’m sure that the reason most of these resources are not distributed is because no one is willing to put in the extra time and effort to make it work.

How do you effectively manage a small team?

I recently did an emotional management session with my mentor. In a quiz, my two highest scoring strengths were empathy and motivation.

This was comforting because it was confirmation of my ability to keep my team motivated and always lead from a place of understanding instead of being a dictator.

Having scored high on motivation, can you share six ways you motivate yourself and your team?

Keeping myself motivated, is the important part. Motivation is like happiness, it shows on the outside. When you are motivated, it rubs off. I keep myself motivated by;

  • Looking after my spiritual health,
  • Consistently practicing mental toughness
  • Celebrating small victories and
  • Reading and watching things things that motivate me (such as my SLA newsletters).

Keeping a small team inspired can be challenging. At times, everyone will slack off or feel entitled as we all play multiple roles since the business is still at start-up phase.

We have regular conversations about the current position of the staff in the business and the position of the business as a whole. I also constantly remind my staff of the company’s vision, and that we are in a growth process together.

Hey South African #MotherlandMoguls, the SheHive will be landing in Johannesburg from November 3-6. Find out more here.

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