Motherland Mogul Feature: Siyamthanda Makhwabe

According to a World Bank article published in November 2018 on women entrepreneurs and the future of Africa, enterprises owned by male entrepreneurs have more capital than women-owned enterprises.

This month, we shine the spotlight on a fierce lady who has bootstrapped her way into starting not just one – but two – businesses while holding down a full-time job.

Siyamthanda Makhwabe is a professional town planner, a wife and mother, owner of Kuhle Bags and Accessories and a town planning consulting business.

Fellow Motherland Mogul, Zimkhitha met with Siyamthanda to talk about juggling work, business, a kid, and a briefcase.


Siyamthanda at an on-site inspection

The Many Hustles of Siyamthanda Makhwabe

Determined to gain financial freedom, Makhwabe took the leap in 2019 to start two businesses while keeping her job as a town planner.

Leveraging her background in Town Planning and Housing, Makhwabe started a consulting business catering to SMEs and startups. Using the power of her network as a launchpad, she has run this venture in the past year purely by word-of-mouth and industry referrals.

In October 2019, Makhwabe diversified her business portfolio to include a fashion business named after her daughter, Kuhle. Here she offers affordable bags and accessories to South Africans online via social media.

She coverts a lot of customers via WhatsApp and uses Instagram to advertise what’s in stock, which markets she will be visiting and pop up stalls.

Showcasing merchandise at a weekend popup market

Entrepreneurship: A seat at the table

As a STEM woman working in a male-dominated space, Siyamthanda has not always found it welcoming. She explains that this dismissal boils down to the most basic things. For instance, in meetings, men are more readily acknowledged and engaged than women.

“When you sit at that table, it can be very easy to feel invisible and like a fraud, hence many women rather take the back seat”, she says, talking about the dreaded imposter syndrome that creeps in even when you know you have both the qualification(s) and relevant experience to be seated at the proverbial table.

With her ventures, Makhwabe has found autonomy and confidence in being a decision-maker and leader. This remains a key motivator for her in moving her business forward.

Siyamthanda’s Top Tips for every Hustler

Here are Siyamthanda’s top tips for female entrepreneurs on the building – not only a sustainable – but profitable business, from the ground up:

1. Before you throw money at it – innovate

There is a temptation to think that money will solve your problems. As an entrepreneur, it’s important to learn how to be scrappy. Think on your feet, look at the competition and see how you can offer more value to your customer base.

2. Stay learning and find mentors

As you grow your business, you will find out there is a lot you don’t know. It is necessary to stay curious, take short courses and prioritize soft skills. A mentor also gives you an edge in the game. Having someone who’s been there in your corner is invaluable. It’ll save you money, time and headache.

3. Never stop networking

You don’t know what you don’t know until you know.

Reach out to those in your market and those outside to get inspiration and to see what is out there. This will help expand your mind into untapped segments.


Zimkhitha‘s Notes:

My interview with Siyamthanda was eye-opening. I think it is important to emphasize how necessary it is for female entrepreneurs to be more transparent about their experiences. The hustle does not always look glamorous and that’s okay. To all you Motherland Moguls out there, keep on SLAying and exuding your #BlackGirlMagic!


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4 simple steps for developing a marketing strategy for your Small Business

It’s common to see many small business owners unintentionally ignore marketing, as in this digital age, a lot of SME’s interchange ‘marketing’ with ‘social media’ and ‘advertising’.

This article aims to get small business owners to think about marketing holistically and systematically. Marketing is definitely not a few social media posts with a few Instagram ads here and there. You need to put in WORK!

Running a small business without a strategy in place leads to confusing your customers with mixed messages, and worst of all, confusing yourself with a lack of direction.

We’ve put together for you, some simple steps to developing a marketing strategy as a small business owner.

Step 1: Take a step back

Look at your entire business as it relates to your marketing strategy, plans, and campaigns as well as your competitors, your customers and your industry as a whole.

Take the time to write (or type) things down, getting your thoughts out of your head allows you to see the bigger picture.

Step 2: Plan ahead

Lucky for you, here is a FREE template you can use ( because who doesn’t like freebies?) to develop your marketing strategy, which you can download and work through. Make sure you are as thorough as you can so you don’t get overwhelmed later on when it is time to execute your plans.

When you answer these questions, it is time to think about how they will affect your marketing communication.

Step 3: Communicate appropriately

Your communication depends on your strategy (which you should have created using the template above). For example, if you provide a home service or you offer delivery services, your communication should play upon the element of convenience.

If you do not have a permanent location and offer a nomadic experience, then your communication should play up the element of mystery.

If your target customer does not have a car and uses public transportation, your location is key as it needs somewhere that is close to where your customer works/lives or you can consider a delivery service and cut down on your overheads.

Your product, customer base, and price point will determine your tone of voice in your communication for example, if you are selling luxury high-end handbags to women over 40 years old, it is not advisable to use slang such as ‘slay’, ‘beat’ or extensively refer to popular culture as your customers are unlikely to relate.

If you are selling a luxury product/service, your communication should be minimal, professional, impersonal and aesthetically pleasing. Make sure you are not partnering with brands that might dilute the luxury i.e. lower end brands or brands that cater to a completely different market in the same industry.

If you are selling a product/service that is complementary to another e.g. if you are a makeup artist, your service complements or relies on makeup products and tools. Therefore, your communication can involve displaying makeup products or you can possibly collaborate with brands that offer the complementary product/service.

Step 4: Stick to your plans

Defining your USP (Unique Selling Point) and communicating effectively will allow you to play up your strengths and allow you to stay consistent and relevant in your consumers’ minds. You will be able to let your customers know exactly what problem your product/service solves and what gap it fills.

Without actually writing down these points, you may be communicating something that you think is a strength but is actually your weakness in comparison to your competitors.

Once your marketing strategy is in place, it becomes easier to develop your marketing plan for different instances, e.g. your launch, new product releases, and your seasonal campaigns.

Go forth and strategize!