Lulu Mutsikira: My opportunity came from my frustration

As a person who believes in following their dreams, you can only imagine how much it excites and inspires me, when I see someone I know personally, do exactly that. Following her dreams fully and wholeheartedly and succeeding at it!

Lulu Mutsikira, founder of Nama Saya, who can be contacted via email, began her company when she left the corporate life, in pursuit of her passion. Nama Saya is an event styling and interior decor company. The multi-faceted boutique agency specialises in full-service design and planning of interior & event spaces.

When I bumped into Lulu in a car park, as she was leaving a client’s apartment, we had the best catch-up in her car. We discussed the rise of local designs in South Africa, incorporating heritage into everyday living spaces, starting a new business venture and juggling being a family woman and an entrepreneur.

Event styling is not a term I’ve come across before, please tell me a little more about it.

The event styling business was born from frustration at the event industry when I was planning my wedding. I was struggling to find exactly what I wanted in one place, and the cost of sourcing from multiple suppliers just wasn’t worth it.

So, I decided to buy everything for my big day myself with the long term ambition being to then go into a hiring-out style business part time. The styling bug hit hard and I became addicted to making tables beautiful. I no longer wanted to just hire-out, but wanted to be there from beginning to end, to ensure a holistic and connected event was achieved.

While the wedding was a catalyst, I had been saying I will do this kind of thing for years. The interior decor story is a similar one, I have always loved making interior spaces pretty and my first flat was such a project. I was so happy with the final result, and so was everyone else surprisingly, so I knew there was something there. Then right after my wedding, a friend asked me to do her boyfriend’s home, and that he would pay —I did it and loved it and that was that, I was sold.

I can imagine that must have been very exciting, and the start of a new business venture?

A few happy clients later and a course in interior design, it’s the thriving part of Nama Saya. What really cemented Nama Saya as a business idea for me is the realisation that so many people are hungry for someone to take away the stress of “creativity” from them.

While many may view this kind of career path as easy, it certainly isn’t —constantly thinking up fresh ways to reinvent ultimately the same thing, is work and you either have it or you don’t.

What’s encouraging, especially from the interior space, is that people are really starting to recognise that and are willing to pay for the service of having a professional eye reinvent their home.

Nama Saya 4As it is known, “customers are the lifeblood” of any business. Who would you say is your clientele?

Surprisingly I don’t have a specific type of client. I have individuals from all walks of life. The events clientele is mostly couples looking to tie the knot and needing some help with the creative direction of their big day. Most have a colour in mind but not much else, so it’s up to me to put the pieces together.

The home clientele vary from just out of varsity individuals who want to spruce up their spaces, to wealthy business people who are building a home, the spectrum is very wide.

So on top of being your own boss, you’re a wife and a mother, how do you juggle family life and being an entrepreneur?

I don’t! Seriously though, it’s an incredible struggle and it takes a lot of work and understanding from your family.

Luckily my husband is on a similar journey so he understands 150% that right now, I am building and that will take time. The long term ambition is definitely to strike that balance, but right now, I would be lying if I said I have it all figured out. Let me know when you catch wind of the secret.

I’ll be sure to do so. So with various projects and an array of clients, which project has been your most exciting thus far?

You know, every project fills me with excitement, perhaps because I am still growing.

They are a God-send; I treat every single event or home installation with as much excitement as the next. I am currently working on a huge home project that makes me both sick to my stomach with nerves and giggly with excitement!
Nama Saya 17

With South Africa taking an interest local design, fashion, music, experiences and everything in between, what would you say is trending in terms of design? What local styles, trends and brands, give a space that truly South Africans feel?

Local has always been lekker! It’s about time we caught the train that has long been on the move, there are so many local designers doing amazing things for the industry.

From an interior perspective, it’s not so much a particular brand, but rather the African influence used subtly to make a true statement in the home. I recently did a home installation where the client asked me to use Sesotho blankets as upholstery for her headboard —the result was magnificent and really so reminiscent of true pride in the heritage of our county.

Wow, that sounds really beautiful. People actually wanting to incorporate their heritage into their everyday living spaces – would you say that this is a growing trend?

I am finding out that individuals are starting to really insist on a space in their homes that reflects them from a heritage perspective; it is really very exciting to see.

We are very blessed in SA to have traditional ceremonies as part of our wedding process. What a complete feast for the eyes, from the bridal fashion, to center-pieces to floral selections, you see some amazing local designs come through. The local influence is no longer rudimentary but planners and stylists are really pushing themselves to create amazing things, very refreshing!

Nama Saya 5What does the rest of 2016 have in store for you?

Nama Saya must start seeing real traction and penetration in the market. The foundation is being laid and we really want to get all the proverbial ducks in a row so that we can really maintain sustainable growth.

There are a million companies doing what we do, the real differentiator is how we go about creating that experience, the back-end is a critical piece to that.

So for me 2016 speaks to foundation and growth!

Lastly, for the woman who is sitting at her desk, being inspired by you to follow in your footsteps and take on entrepreneurship, what advice do you have for her?

Plan! So, so critical! This journey isn’t easy. In fact, from day 1, you will realise there are about five million factors you didn’t take into consideration, and that’s fine. The journey is one of learning, but if you can avoid some start-up pitfalls, definitely do. Other really important aspects are;

  • Your already existing network as a starting point.
  • Your friends are your friends because they are your biggest hype men; let them be your first level sales agents.
  • Networking, your business will not grow if you don’t go out there and tell people it exists. Use social media.
  • Networking events are also critical to get word out for your business.
  • Don’t be afraid to share your small wins, and even your falls —strategically though! (You don’t want potential clients to know that your wall fell! *laughs*). People love to feel like a part of a journey.

We want to know what amazing things women are doing in your communities. Tell us about them here!


Manyaku Mositsa: This is not something you get to learn in school

manyaku mositsa

South African Manyaku Mositsa is a 31-year-old dreamer and achiever who grew up on the dusty roads of Mohlaletse Ga Sekhukhune. Though a graduate of Biotechnology from the University of Johannesburg, Manyaku left paid employment to pursue her passion for fashion. She just wasn’t happy with wearing the overalls that came with her job in SAB laboratory.

Now a fashion designer, Manyaku has expanded to make her passion for empowering women with skills and experience a reality through her organisation, Giving Hope. SLA contributor Makalele spoke to Manyaku on fashion, inspiration and managing multiple initiatives.

You could have chosen any other career path. Why fashion?

It started as a hobby. Since I was five, I’ve liked dressing up. I loved wearing mommy’s clothes and doing the catwalk in front of the mirror. But I never imagined doing it for a living.

As a young girl, I dressed differently because I thought the kind of clothes I wanted  were just not available in clothing stores. In 2005, during my in-service training at SAB laboratory, I would dress up to work even though I knew I would need to change into a work suit and safety boots.

Though I enjoyed the job, I never really liked wearing overalls. Finally, in 2010,  I decided to pursue my dream for fashion by taking part time classes in dressmaking.

I did the fashion business part time till in 2014 when I left my full-time job to fulfill my passion.

My personal philosophy is, ”the best way to master something is by actively doing it with a strong will.”

manyaku 1

What is your favourite part of being a fashion designer?

I love that I can be unique,  inspire others and of course, turn heads.

Your designs are so good. What inspires them?

My inspiration comes from the desire to prove to myself and the world that ladies in dresses can be fashionable too.

I also get my inspiration from unique fabrics and textures. My celebrity muse also plays a major role.

What’s fashion to you?

Fashion is simply dressing and accessorizing in style.

You’ve got to have an eye for it. This is how successful fashion designers are able to create trends.

Aside fashion, you’re involved in other projects. Tell us about your current project, Giving Hope.

Giving Hope is a division of UD Holdings aimed at empowering young women with skills and work experience. We help them become employable and young entrepreneurs.

The focus is on designing, clothing production, shoe making , bags and hats manufacturing , beauty therapy as well as events management.

manyaku 2

How do you manage running a fashion house and an organization?

My love for what I do wakes me up every morning. This is where I get my drive for the day. This is not something you get to learn in school.

I run both ventures in the same premises and that has made managing them a whole lot easier.

I had to learn to stop procrastinating and just do it. Of course I’ve had some challenges but it’s worth it.

What do you do for fun?

The nice thing about this industry is you can work while having fun.

Traveling, fashion shows, photo shoots, getting myself pampered all form a part of my fun activities and work too.

We want to know what amazing things women are doing in your communities! Tell us here.

Unleashing the phenomenal woman in YOU!

As a young girl I grew up around a family of strong, opinionated, yet very respectful women. I always saw my mother, aunts and grandmothers exhibit everything I wanted to be. They are pillars of strength in the family, they are wise and always have a comforting word. But one thing that stood out most was their resounding support for one another. This is a character trait they have passed down to all the girls in the family.

It always bothered me that I could never fit in with most of the girls at school. I thought it was because I was not cool enough. I was too much of a nerd, I was too interested in sports, certainly something was wrong with me.

Finding the right community

That was until I started interacting with a group of “different” girls. Our conversations were never about another girl’s flaws. We were all about encouraging each other to study, helping one another with school work and constantly supporting each other.

This was when I realised that what my mother always wanted for me was to be part of a group of girls who love each other and ultimately grow up to be part of a society of strong, independent women.

When I started my company, Ziphora Events, I always knew it would be my platform to help women and the youth to realise and maximise their full potential. I am a strong believer in women working together to create a society of inspiring and driven individuals. For young people, I have done this by hosting a Young Leaders Dialogue in 2014 and a Game Changers Dialogue in 2016.

Using Ziphora to spread my vision of community

The main aim of these events was to bring ordinary young professionals in conversations with individuals who are striving in their industries. The result was idea sharing, collaborations & building a network of people who are also interested in making South Africa a better place.

In July 2016, I hosted a Women in Lead High Tea in partnership with Divine Women Empowerment. The aim of the event was to bring women together in a relaxed environment, to discuss issues affecting us and contribute positively to society. Our speakers spoke about personal branding, seeking greatness, emotional de-cluttering and beauty. These are some of the things that make up a well-rounded woman. I believe that before we can even begin to influence society, we need to work on ourselves first.


Soon, Ziphora Events will be launching The Phenomenal Women’s Dialogue. The theme will be “Unleashing the Phenomenal Woman in YOU.” The purpose of the Phenomenal Women’s Dialogue is to uplift and build a generation of vibrant women. These are women who know what they want in life and are able to position themselves for greatness.

At each stage of life, women have a rich perspective and wealth of experience to share with one another. The Phenomenal Women’s Dialogue will give women a platform to share these experiences and perspectives. Ziphora Events is committed to the valuable leadership of women in every aspect of life. The Phenomenal Women’s Dialogue is one way in which we support that.

This vision is aligned to one of the Africa 2063 Agenda aspirations, which is “an Africa whose development is people-driven, relying on the potential of African people, especially its women and youth.”

What does a phenomenal woman look like to you?

For me personally, a phenomenal woman is the ordinary woman we meet in our communities every day. From that working mother juggling building a career with building a loving home, to the housewife who puts her energy in taking care of her husband and kids.

The local Pastor’s wife, the granny who the entire community looks to for advise, these are all phenomenal woman who play a big part in building our communities. As often as I can, I ask myself, “What am I doing to help someone realise and maximise their potential?”

I am always honoured when after an event I have hosted, women come to me and tell me how attending the event turned out to be the most important thing they did on that day. It is an even greater honour when after some time, they contact me saying they are still working on themselves and have invited another lady in the journey of seeking greatness.

This is indeed how we will build a society of phenomenal women and it is the legacy I want to leave behind. What will be your legacy?

“Your natural hair makes you look unkempt”

natural hair

In case you haven’t heard, something amazing happened in South Africa. Just recently, the pupils of Pretoria Girls High protested over subliminal racist rules at the school. Apparently, the school basically told these young girls that their natural hair and Afros make their uniform look “unkempt”.

ShockerIn a world where black women and girls continue to defy the odds and accomplish feats in business and career, our hair cannot continue to define us. It’s been a decade since India Arie reminded us that we are not our hair.

Yes, we understand that typically, our natural hair is incredibly thick. We know it is lush, ravishing, gorgeous and most likely, voluminous. We also understand that our hair does not lie flat like straight hair. In a society that associates hair that is straight or has loose curls as ”tidy”, we obviously don’t fit.

Yet, having natural hair should never be a crime and it’s high time we (Africans included!) stopped hating on natural hair. I mean, what’s wrong with deciding to wear your hair without a relaxer? When will the world understand that all hair is equal? Healthy hair can be natural, straightened, coloured or chemically treated!

Back to the issue at Pretoria, the students have also claimed that the rules in place don’t allow them wear inherently Black hairstyles. They are not to wear Bantu knots, braids, dreadlocks too!

News of protests from the students against the school’s arbitrary rules have gone viral. A petition titled, ‘Stop Racism at Pretoria Girls High’ that has garnered over 14,000 asks that;

– The school’s code of conduct does not discriminate against black and Muslim girls;

– Disciplinary action against teachers and other staff members implementing any racist policy and/or racist actions

– Protection for the learners who protested to ensure they will not be victimized.

Meanwhile, the hashtag #StopRacismAtPretoriaGirls has been trending on Twitter.

boqor riya #stopracismatpretoriagirlshighmodupe oloruntoba #stopracismatpretoriagirlshighthapelo mokoena #stopracismatpretoriagirlshighthickleeyonce #stopracismatpretoriagirlshighThis message from a teacher to a parent takes the cake:

amandla #stopracismatpretoriagirlshighLet’s hear what you think about the natural hair debate. Should the way you keep your hair define you? Should educational institutions have the power to decide how girls keep their hair?

Charmaine Maphutha: All you need is focus

Charmaine Maphutha she leads africa

We give you the details about NGOs, now it’s time to talk to someone who works in the field. Charmaine Maphutha is a vibrant 22-year-old from Limpopo province, South Africa. While Charmaine studies at the University of Johannesburg, she also runs the Bopedi Hope Foundation. The Bopedi Hope Foundation was founded by Charmaine and two other women who wanted to make a difference by helping the needy. Makalela Mositsa spoke to Charmaine on her passion for helping the disadvantaged.

Tell us about Bopedi Hope Foundation

Bopedi Hope Foundation was founded by 3 girls, including myself. Our focus is giving to the disadvantaged. Currently, we provide sanitary pads, school shoes, clothes, toiletries and anything else identified as really needed. Our sole intention is to give hope.

Our vision is to help as many children as possible, instilling hope and eventually taking some to school. Having a children’s home in Sekhukhune is also in the works and in our future plans.

What inspired the foundation?

I was inspired by an organization involved in giving meals to children in universities. I saw how dependent students were on the feeding scheme. It meant so much to them to receive meals that they probably didn’t know they would get. I immediately knew helping people was something I needed to do.

Also, as a student teacher at Lekhini School in Limpopo, I got to meet students that inspired me. There, children from different backgrounds and households came to school because they wanted to better their future. One of the students once mentioned to me the de-motivation of having to study in classrooms that had no windows and sometimes no doors!

That was when I started thinking about how to help these students with things the government couldn’t provide them. I thought to myself, “What if I could give them things that will help them live comfortably”.

Wow…what else motivated you?

I also had an interaction with a young lady who told me how she had to choose between buying a bag of potatoes and buying a packet of sanitary pads.

This made me even more motivated to help.

bopedi hope foundationWhat advice would you give to someone looking to lending a helping hand?

First, you need focus. You may never complete a task if your head is all over the place.

Secondly, take things slowly. One project at a time, so your recipients are satisfied with whatever you decide to offer them. And lastly, do not make premature announcements, that way you won’t leave disappointed people at your wake.

Red or white wine? Which would prefer and why?

Red dry wine. Of course, because it contains procyanidins, compounds commonly found in red wine known for protecting against heart diseases.

What would be a perfect day out for you?

Good food and good company. Sharing creative ideas with people is my idea of a perfect day. Meeting people with different personalities and socio-economic barriers is cool, you know.

I also find peace running the organisation.  It’s something very dear to my heart. It opens my heart to want to give even more.

Want to see women you know featured on SLA? Tell us what amazing things women are doing in your communities here.


Nthabiseng Nkosi: Working from home is the norm now in South Africa

Nthabiseng Nkosi

Ah the dream. Managing a business and team successfully from your home. Nthabiseng Nkosi is living it. Together with her husband, Nthabiseng built and now runs a proudly South African design agency called Jutsu Design.

Even though Jutsu’s first clients were friends and family, the agency now offers services ranging from web design, digital solutions, mobile apps to photography. SLA caught up with Nthabiseng to learn more about Jutsu and managing a business from home.

Nthabiseng, tell us, how did Jutsu Design come about?

Jutsu Design started out as a concept to build a small design agency that would offer affordable designs through the line services for SMME’s. My then boyfriend, now husband, and I worked on building a name for us – Jutsu.

The name ‘Jutsu’ came about as a result of the team being avid anime fans. ‘Jutsu’ is a Japanese word meaning technique or skill. Once the name was decided on, the company was then officially registered in 2011.

Friends and family were our first clients and we grew from there. Fast forward to five years, the company offers web design, digital solutions, mobile apps as well as photography. Jutsu also developed our first two title sequences for’s Heist and SABC 1’s Dreamworld.

How large is the Jutsu Design team? What are the challenges of managing your team?

Jutsu Design is a team of a husband, wife, web developer, PR manager, freelance writer, and photographer. The team was initially made up of four members when we started out in 2011. Two members left to pursue other career paths and the rest of us continued with business.

One of the major challenges we face at Jutsu is keeping up with the workload. Most times, it gets a little too much to handle, but we try to meet deadlines. In the earlier years, it was difficult, but every project has been a learning curve.

Did work from home from the start? How did you manage that?

Being a micro- enterprise, Jutsu Design has always operated from home.

We are able to save money that would otherwise have been used for rent. We keep costs at a minimal because our company is small.

How do you create awareness or reach clients for Jutsu ?

The funny thing is, we don’t. We get new clients through word of mouth from our loyal clients.

We have a website up and that too has been working for us. Active promotion of our company might mean getting extra hands and moving to bigger premises.


How do people react to your working from home?

I think working from home is the norm now in South Africa. Some people can be a little envious, but it takes a lot of self-discipline to be self-employed.

You may think you have all the time to just chill and work later, but you actually don’t.

How do you draw the line between work and running a home?

At first, it was extremely difficult working from home. I used to want to make excuses with that, but with deadlines closing in on me, my head would spin. So, I have learnt to be a lot more disciplined.

If possible, I work half days on Mondays to Wednesdays. Thursdays and Fridays, I do house chores; laundry, cleaning etc. This schedule works for me as I do not have a housekeeper.

But if things get too hectic, with meetings and events to attend, I leave house chores to the weekend.

What’s the best way to unwind when your office is also your home?

My husband and I sometimes, go on dates, engage in fun activities and fetch our little one from the crèche.

I have my spa days and he has his boy’s night outs with his friends. We try to do this once or twice a week.

If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.

Rosie Mashale: Life in the townships is filled with entrepreneurial energy

Rosie Mashale

Rosalie “Rosie” Mashale was born in a small village called Kgubetswana, Matatiele in Eastern Cape. There, she studied and trained for thirteen years before moving to Khayelitsha. Trained teacher and care worker, Rosie founded a community-based project Baphumele, a crèche along with a group of women from her community.

Writer Megan Gieske visited Khayelitsha and spoke to Rosie about Baphumele. She shares what she found with SLA.

Langa Township is the oldest township in South Africa. Langa is a suburb in Cape Town established in 1927 after the Urban Areas Act. It is one of the many townships in South Africa designated for Black Africans during the Apartheid era. Since the 1960s, when the forced resettlement of the Apartheid era began, the people of Langa have wanted privacy and a sense of ownership.

Rosie remembers being disturbed by seeing township kids sorting through rubbish dumps in search of food while left unattended by their parents. As life in the townships is filled with entrepreneurial energy and community spirit, Rosie knew she had to do something.

Born and raised in Kgubetswana, Rosie was described feeling very shocked and puzzled when she arrived in Khayelitsha. “I opened the doors to take care of the orphans, for me it is a calling to do what I am doing”, Rosie says.

She responded by taking children into her home, and together with a group of women from the community, began looking after these unsupervised children. This group later went on to found Baphumelele Educare Centre after moving to Khayelitsha in 1989 with the aim of providing a safe environment for township kids.

From the first week, Rosie and her partners cared for thirty-six children. The name given to this project was Baphumelele, a Xhosa word meaning “you have progressed”. From these humble beginnings, Baphumelele Educare Centre was founded, which today is an established community crèche and Grade R (preschool) caring for roughly 230 children aged three months to six years. While the Educare Centre had developed a reputation for looking after children, Rosie also felt a calling to reach out to orphaned children in the community.

To that end, Baphumelele Children’s Home was created as a place of safety for abandoned, abused, neglected or orphaned children, many of whom have been affected by the HIV/Aids pandemic or have HIV/AIDS themselves.

Now, Rosie acts as Baphumele Organization’s managing direction and founder. From her initial idea, Rosie now permanently employs 204 people while 60 earn stipends as paid volunteers. Rosie aims for Baphumele to be a beacon of hope in Khayelitsha.


Even though Rosie has received 28 local and international awards —and been visited by Nelson Mandela—, she says her greatest reward is the kids she works with. “The children who have been here at Baphumelele are progressing. Some are social workers, accountants, etc. They do not forget where they come from. My real motivation is that. At heart, I am very gentle, impressionable, receptive, a dreamer and visionary.”

On the high wall that surrounds Baphumele’s many Educare centers, there’s a world map painted in bright colors. Many of the buildings on Baphumele’s campus have plaques recognizing local and international support.

Baphumele Children’s Home is a demonstration of what a community, local and international, can achieve when everyone works together.

“I am a person who supports change, innovation, and human advancement,” Mashale says, “I am strongly committed to a humanitarian cause and social improvement. I wish to contribute something of value to the world, or at least to my community.”

You can read more on Mashale’s “success” on the website:

How to be a teen coach when you have no money

If you want to be a teen coach and you’re not sure where to start, you may want to pay attention to this.

Nomveliso Mbanga is a teen coach and mentor. She is also a youth public speaker & facilitator, storyteller and the founder and managing director at Mayine Development Institute, a start-up based in South Africa. “I can identify with poverty but I identify more with defying the odds and creating your own legacy through hard work and patience.” Nomveliso says.

SLA contributor Goistemang asked Nomveliso what advice she’d give to young women looking to start a business as a coach/mentor with little money and this is what Nomveliso had to say.

Understand your skills

First you need to know what you can do and what you are good at, plus any natural gifts. Choose an area that is of your passion and that you know very well. Build good relationships with people and follow good ethical practices.

Don’t be afraid to learn new things

What worked in starting Nomveliso’s own business was learning past experiences. She was willing to make mistakes. Personal development is key when you keep learning and trying out different methods.

Easy and comfortable will usually give normal results and won’t give anything worth applauding. You need to know what you want to achieve.

I want to create full transformation spaces for teenagers who will learn to understand that they are responsible for their personal growth and success in life. That made me come up with out of the ordinary methods to give me my desired results. I wanted to set up my business differently from other coaches. I didn’t exist before and I manage to create my own niche in the field.


Cherish your network

In my case, I started with no money only because I had already built a following in youth development work. Through them, I tested a few models that gave me results. So, it was easy to trust that I could do it on my own as I have done it all in corporate and community space before.

Family and friends are also very important, they will uplift you in tough times.

The biggest challenges come from self

Self-doubt kicks a lot harder than challenges from others. One rejection can set you back and make you scared to approach new potential clients or partners. You need to know how to snap out of discouragement quickly. Know how to manage competition in a healthy way so you can keep improving your work instead of getting discouraged.

Be true to yourself. Don’t try compete with anyone. Work in your own pace as long as you give your all. Keep learning and reading.

Save, save, save!

Another challenge is cash flow. You must always keep and save what you get as you’ll never know for sure when the next payments will come in.



Dzivhu Precious Tshiwalule: I know and understand my own purpose

Dzivhu Precious Tshiwalule

Dzivhu Precious Tshiwalule, a Dietician and co-founder of UPower Africa is one woman who makes being a superwoman seem easy. She attributes her balance in life to knowing and understanding her life’s purpose. As a wife and professional, she refuses to be limited by just her talent but strives to break new grounds.

She is also the author of an informative book on eating right, ”Shaping your Attitude towards Healthy Eating.” Lerato Motshana, our SLA contributor had the chance to talk with this awesome and passionate woman.

Tell us about UPower Africa

UPower Africa is a youth development initiative focused on developing disadvantaged students, especially in remote rural areas. We help them gain access to basic information and education.

So far, we have branches in Nigeria, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Zambia. And in South Africa, every province has a UPower Africa manager.

How did you become a part of UPower Africa?

Co-incidentally, my husband is the founder of UPower while I am the co-founder. My husband grew up in poverty and so naturally, he feels obliged to help kids in rural areas who are going through what he had experienced first-hand.

Aside being a co-founder, what are your other roles in UPower Africa?

In addition to being a co-founder, I am also a member on the UPower Africa board.  We are currently involved in a couple of projects, but I’ll mention a few. We donate computers, school shoes, online university applications and motivation to students in schools. I oversee these projects, liaise with provincial managers, and provide assistance where necessary.

20160803_075628-1_resizedUPower Africa is not a typical NPO. How were you able to achieve that?

I am inspired by the evident success and progression of those we’ve been able to help and motivate. Meanwhile, UPower Africa is just three years old but we’ve recorded successes in helping people get into universities.

Let’s talk about your book, what’s it about?

I wrote a book titled “Shaping your Attitude towards Healthy Eating”, and it extensively addresses the attendant health consequences of not eating right.

The book is significant to me because as a first-year student in 2005, I was diagnosed with a brain tumour. As a Dietician and from the knowledge gathered, eating right contributes so much to good health. I never got to know the cause of the tumour but through research, I have come to believe there was a link to the kind of food I ate.

So, I decided to write a book, highlighting the importance of healthy eating and how to keep chronic health conditions like cancer, high blood pressure, and diabetics at bay.

Is healthy eating the ultimate solution to chronic health conditions?

Evidently, food plays a huge factor but there are other factors like smoking and so on.

Let’s move on to less serious stuff. What do you do for fun?

I am usually so busy and actually don’t relax much. I do a lot of seminars on purpose discovery and the like. I am also involved in a lot of church activities, indoor exercises, and travelling. Obviously, I don’t engage in a lot of what people qualify as fun.

UPower Africa, book-writing, being a Dietician, a mother, how are you inspired?

I am excited and driven by my life experiences and the need to be of help to the next person.

What would you say to an African young woman who views marriage as the ultimate life goal?

Marriage can be beautiful if you are married to the right partner.  My husband and I enjoy a unity of focus and that has helped our marriage. Notwithstanding, I don’t believe marriage is the ultimate life goal. A purpose-driven life should be the goal for everyone, man or woman.

If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here

Sibahle Khumalo: Balancing a baking business with my studies in Genetics

For some us, side hustles only became real when we started our careers. For others, it starts much earlier. Sibahle Khumalo is a university student and a #MotherlandMogul. Between studying to complete her degree in Genetics, she bakes and sells cakes. Sisi Lwandle recently caught up with Sibahle for a chat where she discovered what it takes to balance studies and entrepreneurship, and what Sibahle views as success.

How did the idea for your baking business come about?

It was actually my mother who had the idea of me starting a baking business. I learnt how to bake muffins and cupcakes from my mom and I had tried baking cookies and brownies before, but I had never baked a “big cake” as I called it. So, early last year I was feeling brave and I searched on the internet for a good chocolate cake recipe. To my surprise we had most of the ingredients I needed in the house. I just had to buy a round cake pan, after which I proceeded to bake my chocolate cake and decorate it.

It was the best chocolate cake I’ve ever tasted and everybody in the house was so surprised to see that I could bake a delicious cake in just one try. My mother loved it so much she took it to work the next day to share with her colleagues and they loved it to. She then told me that I could actually start my own small baking business and from then I started modifying the recipe and practicing to bake it perfectly. After some time I started advertising my creations on Facebook and well one thing led to another and I found myself starting my own small business.

Where did your capital funding come from? How were you able to start up?

My capital funding came out of my pocket as I have a part-time job as a coach at a local high school. I used the little money that I had to buy equipment and even now I use some of the business’ profit to build the business. Slowly but surely my dream of having my own bakery is coming together.

You’re studying a degree in Genetics. This is a complete contrast to the industry of your current business, where and how do they both fit into your future plans?

That’s a very good question. I plan on continuing my studies and going into medicine as it has been my life long dream. At the same time, I plan on growing my bakery business to the extent where I don’t have to work myself but have staff working for me, I’m planning for it to become a passive form of income.

As a full time student, how do you juggle academic responsibilities and the demands of your growing business?

I won’t lie, it’s very tough. Sometimes I find myself having to turn down customers because of writing tests or exams. Other times, I find myself stressing and not having enough time to study. But with the help of my mom and aunt I get everything done in time, which usually means going to bed at midnight.


How has being an entrepreneur and student affected your social life?

I’m surprised it hasn’t affected it too drastically, I still have time for my friends and family. It just takes a lot of pre-planning for things to work. So now I actually have a use for calendar/journal.

What advice would you give to other university students who wish to become entrepreneurs?

Go for it! There’s nothing worse than just keeping business ideas in your head, start small and grow your business from the ground up. Understand that success isn’t something that happens overnight, but know that all the hard work will pay off soon.

And also, be prepared to have to choose sometimes between your education and your business.

If you won the lotto right now, what would you do?

If I won the lotto I would open my own bakery/cafe. And I’d also treat myself to a long deserved holiday, baking can get really tough.

What motivates Sibahle Khumalo?

Making my customers happy, there’s nothing better than putting a smile on someone’s face.


What is your favourite aspect about being an entrepreneur?

Being able to say, “I have my own business” has to be my favourite part!

But, what I love the most about being a black female entrepreneur is having the platform to inspire other people.

How do you define success?

Success is the result of an ongoing process of bettering yourself and working on your goals.

Which company or business person inspires you?

Buddy Valastro, the owner of Carlo’s Bakery, most commonly known as the Cake Boss.

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