6 South African women killing it as we celebrate #WOMENSMONTH

south african women

Gwa thinta abafazi, wa thinta imbokodo!

This means, “You strike a woman, you strike a rock.

Currently, it’s women’s month in South Africa but I think the party shouldn’t start and end there. The month should celebrate and honour women in our entire continent, This should include women who are powerhouses and moguls, whether in communities and the business world.

Let’s talk about some history. On August 9, 1956, thousands of women marched to Pretoria. It was to fight for their rights to freedom of movement without documentation, referred to as passes, along other segregation laws. In commemoration of women’s rights today, questions still remain debated over the role of women in society. This especially concerns women in positions of power. Six decades later, women continue to fight. This time, we fight a different fight.

Evidently, we have MotherlandMoguls who carry a dumbbell with one hand and a mine of gold in the other. Today, we want to celebrate not just the woman in South Africa, but in Africa. She is an instinct-driven entrepreneur, who will be featured on Destiny Magazine, Forbes Africa, Forbes Woman and the likes. She is on her way to becoming the leading lady of a nation. She has a vision, creates networks and positively influences other young women.

Now, let’s take a look at 6 young women killing it in South Africa:

Mpho Khati

Mpho Khati of Indlovukazi is a vibrant woman who celebrates herself through modelling. She invented the word ‘thick-thighing’ as a plus size model and is also an Instagram influencer.

Mpho’s to watch for.

Palesa Kgasane

Palesa Kgasane is a young lady in her early twenties, born in cape town and raised in Bloemfontein. Amazingly, she’s the curator at Mzansimoodboard, a writer, and creative director.

She also designs her own clothes.

Khanya Mzongwana (aka Yulu Ishii)

It is said that a woman’s place is in the kitchen and she makes it her business. Khanya, the foodie entrepreneur, is called the queen of pop-up restaurants.

She’s the co-owner of Off The Wall pop-up restaurant. She is also a recipe developer and food stylist.

Panashe Chigumadzi

Panashe Chigumadzi is the author of Sweet Medicine. She’s also the  founder and editor of Vanguard Magazine, a black feminist platform for young black women coming of age in post-apartheid South Africa.

Also, Panashe is a storyteller interested in the narratives of black and African women.

Tumelo Mothotoane

tumeloAs a television and radio broadcaster, Tumelo started locally with a woman’s programme called Sistas on Soweto TV. She moved to being a news anchor at the SABC.

Now, she’s gracing the worldwide screens with being an international news anchor and correspondent for Russia today TV.

Lumka Msibi


lumkaLumka Msibi is a 25-year-old qualified and international award–winning Aeronautical Engineer. She’s a global speaker and Entrepreneur from Soweto in South Africa.

Regardless of the system in places that may hold women down, Lumka rises above limits. She creates the most compelling content, business industries, and communities. Commendably, this woman rises above societal pressure that dictates what a woman shouldn’t talk about.

Here’s the thing

A woman alone is success personified and she matters. She is not a statistic but she creates ground-breaking statistics. The stereotype that women are catty and always fight each other is old and needs to go.

As women, we need to constantly remind ourselves that we’re flawless. We need to create circles of support platforms to generate a revolution of power among sisters.

Now, Motherland Moguls, be your own kind of woman this month. Your career goals and strategies are valid. Start improving your business, and yourself! Kill it and make your entity your mark.

7 African Women to watch at #Rio2016

The stakes are high this time of the year as Rio2016 kick off. Lots of hopes and dreams are riding on this year’s wins. The national pride of certain countries is at stake at the sporting event as those of us living in African countries stayed up late to watch the opening ceremonies.

Btw did you know that the Olympics started in 776 B.C. in Greece where the first Olympian, Coroebus won the single event, a 192-metre foot-race? In 2016, we’re all about the African women doing us proud at the Olympics. Out of this year’s lot, lets’ focus on seven African sportswomen who we’ll be keeping an eye on as the event unfolds.

Yolande Mabika

Refugee Olympic Team

This 28-year-old judoka (a person who practices or is an expert in judo) is a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo. She’ll be participating in this year’s Olympics under that flag.

There’s no shying away from it Yolande has suffered to get to where she is now. She’s slept on the street, and worked as a sweeper and at a textile mill. In 2013, she qualified for the World Judo Championships held in Brazil. She sought asylum in Brazil and started training at the Instituto Reação, a judo school founded by a former Olympic bronze medalist. She is aiming for gold at Rio2016 under the women’s 70kg category.

#MotherlandMogul lesson: Nothing should hold you back the way nothing held Yolande back. We’ll be keeping our fingers crossed that she gets the gold she’s aiming for.

Vivian Cheruiyot


Known as ‘pocket rocket’ due to her short stature, Vivian is a Kenyan long-distance runner who specializes in track and cross country running. She has a massive track record under her belt but her most notable moments include how she lost 17kgs after giving birth. Vivian did this in order to compete in the 2013 International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Athletics Championships 10,000m gold medal in Beijing, China. She won that by the way.

These aren’t Vivian’s first Olympics. She scooped 2nd and 3rd place in the 2012 Olympics for women’s 5000m and 10,000m respectively. She has also crowned Laureus World Sports Award for Sportswoman of the Year 2012. In Rio this year, she is doubling up in the women’s 5000m and 10000m.

#MotherlandMogul lesson: There’s always room to do better and improve on your best. Vivian has pushed herself to do better and succeeded. She won and we can learn from her by pushing ourselves to win too.

Hortence Vanessa Mballa Atangana


Another judoka on the list, Vanessa has been flying the Cameroonian flag high since 2013 when she won the African Championships where she won a bronze medal in the women’s 78kg category. She also scooped third place in the Commonwealth games of 2014. In this year’s Olympics, she is going for gold in the same category.

Margret Rumat Rumat Hassan


Margret’s story is touching. The 19-year-old will be one of South Sudan’s two athletes to participate in the Olympics. She is from Wau, a South Sudan city, where, as recently as 2015, this world-class athlete didn’t even have access to a gym.

Against all odds, she trained her way to the 2014 Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China. There she competed in the Women’s 400m as an Independent Olympic Athlete. This was even before South Sudan was recognized. She is aiming to be first or second at Rio2016 in the women’s 200m.

#MotherlandMogul lesson: Margret forged a path where there was none before. Some people spend their lives training to be athletes in world-class gyms, Margret didn’t have access to that last year. And still, she stands.

Blessing Okagbare


Blessing also holds many feathers in her cap. This Nigerian track and field athlete specializes in long jumping and short sprints is an Olympic and World Championships medalist in the long jump. Blessing is also a world medalist in the 200 metres. She holds the Women’s 100 metres Commonwealth Games record for the fastest time at 10.85 seconds.

Her 100m best of 10.79 made her the African record holder for the event until it was eclipsed by Murielle Ahoure in 2016. She was the African 100m and long jump champion in 2010. She has also won medals at the All-Africa Games, IAAF Continental Cup and World Relays. As a sign of her prowess, she is poised to take part in four events during Rio2016: women’s long jump, women’s 100m, women’s 200m and women’s 4x100m relay.

Genzebe Dibaba


This Ethiopian middle- and long-distance runner is destined for great things. Genzebe is the sister of three-time Olympic champion Tirunesh Dibaba and Olympic silver medalist Ejegayehu Dibaba, and the cousin of former Olympic champion Derartu Tulu. Her veins are literally flow with the blood of a winner. However, that’s not to say her own efforts are for nothing.

Genzebe was the 2012 World Indoor Champion for the 1500m, and is the reigning 2014 World Indoor Champion and World Indoor Record Holder in the 3000m. She represented Ethiopia at the 2012 Summer Olympics and has twice competed at the World Championships in Athletics (2009 and 2011). Genzebe was named Laureus Sportswoman of the Year for the 2014 year and was 2015 IAAF World Athlete of the Year. She is the current world record holder for the 1500m (both indoor and outdoor), the indoor 3000m, the indoor 5000m, the indoor mile, and the indoor two miles.

She is looking to win the women’s 1500 m track and field event at Rio2016.

#MotherlandMogul lesson: We know we mentioned this before but…look at Genzebe’s family! The Dibaba family, aka the “world’s fastest family” are goals for how healthy families can reach their peaks and excel. They challenge us to ask, how can we work with our families to ensure that everyone stays winning?

Caster Semenya


A middle-distance runner, South African Caster Semenya’s track record is bright. It all started in the 2008 World Junior Championships, where she won the gold in the 800m at the 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games. In the African Junior Championships of 2009, she won both the 800m and 1500m races. In August of the same year, Caster won gold in the 800 metres at the World Championships setting the fastest time of the year.

Caster was chosen to carry the country’s flag during the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics where she scooped a silver medal in the women’s 800 metres. Amidst the shadow of gender testing that has been haunting her career, Semenya aims for gold in this year’s Olympics in the category of Women’s 800m.

#MotherlandMogul lesson: After the gender testing troubles, some people thought Caster will no longer participate in competitive sports. Caster has proven those haters wrong by rising again with no consideration for what others may think.

As the Rio2016 unfolds, these are just a few of the #MotherlandMoguls to keep your eyes on as they do us proud!

Maphefo Ingrid Mashigo: I hated every minute of the corporate world

How many single mothers and divorced women do you know in the modeling industry? From that number, do you know any that will leave their stable job with guaranteed income to introduce young, unknown girls from the village into the world of modeling? Well, meet Maphefo Ingrid Mashigo. Maphefo is the young Limpopo-born woman who opened up Bokamoso Future Models to young women in rural areas. Maphefo doesn’t just discover models, she produces them. To Maphefo, models are her ‘rare, raw, rough diamonds’.

When did you know modeling was in you?

Modeling runs in my family, I was inspired by my aunts and uncles. They were models in the local scene and I got to love modelling because of them. Since I was a little girl, I’ve always loved the spotlight. I did a lot of drama and beauty pageants from the age of six.

Like I have mentioned, my surrounding was a big influence.

Tell us about Bokamoso Future Models. What have you  achieved to date?

With Bokamoso Future Models, I produce models from the rural areas who have never modeled before. I want to bring them to the international stage. For a company that is only eight months old, we have shaken the industry and are taking it by storm. Before people know it, they won’t know what hit them. I am so happy to announce that I have a model that is going to represent South Africa at the Miss Heritage International that will be taking place in India this December.

I look up to the likes of Tyra Banks who has her own production company. I would want to be remembered as an icon.

There are so many modeling agencies out there, what are you bringing that is different?

Unlike any other agency, I don’t sign models, I produce them. That is a big difference.

I spend a lot of time, until the wee hours of the morning hosting extensive trainings and workshops. I provide transport for my models to castings, auditions and shoots; they don’t have to pay for such services. More than anything else, I mentor them.

In an industry that is clouded by a lot of negativity such drugs, alcohol and also anorexia, How do you guard yourself and your models against it all?

Morals are something that were instilled in me by my grandparents from a very young age. I am personally not a huge fan of alcohol and my parents taught me those things are demonic. I have never forgot those lessons. The fact that I am a Christian and a huge believer helps and guides me in everything I do.

How did you find the corporate world and when did you know it was time to leave?

Corporate world? I hated every minute of it. I never looked forward to going to the office. The idea of working for someone else was slowly killing me daily as I’ve always wanted to be independent. The salary was good and it got me by, but I was never happy.

The fear of living an unhappy life forever based on a good salary was not part of my plans. Maphefo had to come to life.

Being a single mother and business owner in the shrewd modelling industry, how do you handle everything?

We have an amazing father called God, through him, all things are possible.

The father of my child does not support her in any form but we are surviving through the angels that God had sent through. I have amazing friends, business associates and parents who look out for us and assist me with anything I need.

The world has so many ills, what calms you down?

I am very family oriented and my daughter calms me down.

You have a hoarse voice, have you ever been mistaken for a man on the phone?

Hahahaha, no! I am instead encouraged to do radio presenting. I have such a deep, strong voice even if I can say so myself.

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

Tebatso Molapo: Don’t do it for the fame

tebatso molapo

Before you came across SLA, chances are majority of the business people you saw were men. That was the case for Tebatso Molapo, a 20 year old dreamer and student who started Re Basadi (We are Women), a platform to showcase women-owned businesses. To Tebatso, entrepreneurship is not just about empowering herself but giving the people around her the opportunity to grow with her growth. Here SLA contributor Makalela Kgotlelelo discovers the history of Re Basadi and the challenges of inspiring others.

How did Re Basadi come about?

I founded Re Basadi late in 2015. Re Basadi a private organisation that aims to get women involved in business by giving them a platform to showcase their businesses.

Re Basadi aims to tackle the socio-economic issues experienced by women. The early idea behind Re Basadi was to create a platform for women to get along and with its growth, I noticed a patterned interest in business involvement. I wanted to create a platform wherein women are given the opportunity to openly support each other. Re Basadi is currently running three projects. First there’s “A Part of Me” by Relebohile Majoro which is a campaign that collects and distributes sanitary towels to young girls who can’t afford then.

Our second campaign is “Dress-A-Girl” which aims to provide dresses for young girls during their matric farewell (prom). The third project we are currently working on is the “What I Deserve campaign” by Pabalelo Matenchi. This campaign aims to get to women to declare what they want for the lives.

Currently, Re Basadi also hosts Market Days where women showcase their business initiatives. On the first Market Day we hosted, we accommodated eight stalls and at our most recent we grew to 20 stalls.

Why women?

I am from a small town in the southern parts of Limpopo where a lot of the prominent business and brands are owned by guys. I noticed that gap and knew that it was something that needed to be filled. There are so many brilliant, hardworking women in my town and all over South Africa.

I am a feminist at heart and it brings me so much joy to see women openly support and love each other.

What challenges have met running Re Basadi and how did you handle them?

Initially, Re Basadi was aimed at young women within my age group. But, after launching our Facebook page and hosting the first Market Day, we noticed we attracted a much older crowd. One of the most difficult challenges I’ve faced is being a 20 year old and having to tailor my platform for a more matured audience. Their interests are not similar to those of individuals in our age group.

Another major challenge has been financial constraints. I am a student, and living on a student’s budget makes it difficult to execute some ideas I have for the organisation. I rely on my passion for what I am doing to keeps me going.


Where do you see Re Basadi in the next five years?

In the next 5 years, Re Basadi would have impacted the lives of Southern African women and it will be venturing into working in other African countries.

Are you an indoors or outdoors person?

Indoors. Spending time indoors gives me the time to meditate on my thoughts and my life. I am a low-key introvert. Spending time indoors with friends also gives me the opportunity to learn from them, we get to exchange thoughts and ideas in calm and quiet spaces.

What’s your idea of a perfect day out?

My perfect day out would definitely be feeding my caffeine addiction with a few friends. There will be good and mind stimulating conversation.

What do you love best about Re Basadi?

My favourite part of running Re Basadi are the conversations I have with other women about ways to move forward. The constant words of encouragement and appreciation from others helps a lot. There is also nothing more motivational than inspiring other people. I’ve seen the next person working on their lives because they are motivated by what I and other women are doing.

For a long time, I wanted to do something because I wanted the popularity that would come with being great. After growing up a bit, I realised that fulfillment comes from being able to change someone else’s mindset on life. When you want something because you want to rub it in people’s faces, it will often be out of your reach until you learn humility. Don’t do it for the fame, do it with passion.

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

The Queen Bee Syndrome: When women put other women down in the workplace

With the steady increase and calls for equality in the workplace, some questions have been raised. Does the so-called “Queen Bee Syndrome” really exist? Or are we simply so predisposed, we make assumptions on women not working together as harmoniously as men?

In the South African context, the Queen Bee Syndrome describes a woman in a position of authority who views or treats her female subordinates more critically than their male counterparts. You know who we’re talking about. That boss who is extra strict with her employees…but only if they are women. The one who bypasses qualified women to give the lucrative positions to men. She is basically the workplace equivalent of the woman who says, “I don’t have girl friends, women are too much stress.”

Academics weigh in on the Queen Bee Syndrome

According to Dr Babitha Mathur-Helm of the University of Stellenbosch Business School, who lectures in diversity management, leadership and gender studies defines the Queen Bee Syndrome as women executives’ reluctance to promote women. Dr Babitha further goes on to explain that the Queen Bee Syndrome is a way in which women in executive positions actively alienate and prevent the promotion of their female subordinates.

Grant Thorton’s 2016 Women in Business Report shows that gender advancement in the South African workplace has slowed down in the past decade. Can we really attribute this recorded decline entirely to the Queen Bee Syndrome? Of course not. There is no direct correlative data which would support such an assertion. Furthermore there are other challenges which women face in the workplace. Despite this, we cannot shy away from the existence of the Queen Bee Syndrome and its impact on the advancement of gender equality in the workplace.

Is it a form of discrimination?

There has been much debate about whether the Queen Bee Syndrome is a form of gender discrimination. It could merely be the effect of gender discrimination in the workplace. More often than not, in an effort to be more socially acceptable within authoritative positions in the workplace, women tend to exhibit “masculine” traits of leadership. As we live in a world where “feminine” traits are viewed as a weakness, that women executives react this way is not surprising.

If the Queen Bee Syndrome does exists and women find themselves having to strip themselves of their femininity in order to not only climb up the corporate ladder, but to stay there, is there a solution in sight?

I say yes. In a corporate world which continues to push for equality, women who are vying for leadership positions need to learn how to compete in a healthy fashion. This concept can be a very foreign to us, when we have been taught to be “nice girls” from childhood.  The implication for most of us is that competition is bad. Competition makes us mean as it is not perceived as nice.

Healthy competition

However in order for healthy competition to thrive, we need to create an environment that cultivates it. If there are no workplace policies to this effect, the only viable solution is to start living it out in the workplace. Are you a woman in a senior position who gets to sit at the table? Try inclusive leadership with your women subordinates. Are you helping them navigate the corporate world? Are you mentoring them? Are you championing for policy development and execution that speaks to the development of women in your organization?

If you are a subordinate, stop being scared. Continue to push yourself and test your limits. You should work towards developing yourself so that you become a feasible candidate for career advancement. Are you taking the initiative to work with women in senior positions? If there are no women in positions of authority where you work, how about looking outside?

Our challenges as women remain the same whether we are in the same workplace or not.

Making sense of cents: Quick tips to improve your financial literacy

In an increasingly consumerist society it is very easy to get swept up in the barrage of not-so-gentle persuasions on how to spend your money. It ranges from the seemingly harmless dine-out options you yearn for all month long, the glitzy red bottom heels, to a new gadget that you just have to have.

Financial literacy is muscle, the more you engage it the stronger and better skilled it becomes. It is important to practice intense amounts of self discipline. It sounds daunting, doesn’t it? Growing up, having a job, earning your own money and then be told be disciplined with how you spend it. Very few people are raised to understand finances beyond what they spend. It is much like not ever teaching children how to read then expecting them to be able to fully engage with a highly literate world as adults. No fair, right?

Don’t worry though, help is at hand. We are going to learn this financial alphabet together. Here are a few tools that are easy to understand and implement, provided you’ve got that discipline we spoke of.

Draw up a budget

It isn’t as scary as it sounds. First, you write down a list of what you need to spend money on for the month. Then, you take out the cost of those items from the amount of your income. When you see just how you want to spend money you may reconsider what you thought was a necessity.

Put together a list of your short and long term goals

Whatever your goals, they need to be financed to become a reality. Arrange them in order of importance and find space for them in your monthly budget. While having to say, pay for a course module vs. a really expensive night out with the girls may hurt, in the long run it works out. Once you’ve graduated, you will be able to afford many girls’ nights out.

Review previous month’s expenditure

Once you’ve given your brave new budget a whirl, go over your expenses. Have a hard look at where you spent money wisely and where you did not. Look closely at where you spent most, check whether you spent money on things that tie into your short and/or long term goals. Then review your habits so that moving forward, you make decisions that give you long lasting value for your money.

Save 10% of income

It is important to save. Life happens, a family member could pass away, a car could be involved in an accident or a job may be lost. There are plethora of unforeseen circumstances that could hurtle themselves into one’s life.  It is always wiser to be on the right side of caution. As your spending and saving habits grow, you could even increase that amount from 10%. It is key to note that knowing you can change your habits makes you the boss of your finances.

Join a free online financial literacy class

The internet is your friend.  There are a many resources available to you, should you want to exercise that financial muscle we mentioned above.

Ultimately, financial literacy is about attaining freedom, autonomy and peace of mind. There is a life that exists without ponzi schemes and loan sharks. It can be accessed the moment positive, informed decisions are made. In South Africa at least, there are 95 men for every 100 women, that means we ladies have more… um… manpower.  The power to change the trajectory of African women is ours.

Olebogeng Sentsho: We must be Afrocentric in our approach to mining and the economy

The mining industry may not be first choice for a young woman looking to start a profitable venture. Not for Olebogeng Sentsho. Olebogeng is a one woman force shaking things up for the better in the South African mining and waste management industry. Her company Yeabo Mining is completely owned by black women but it doesn’t stop there. Through her initiatives, Olebogeng works towards improving rural communities and empowering women. Here she shares insights into the mining industry and why it needs to be Afrocentric.

 Strategic waste management? What lead you to that industry?
As an investment analyst, I was exposed to many proposals in many fields. One of the proposals that came across my desk was for a tailings plant on one of the mines a client was looking to invest in. The plan was flawed and subsequently abandoned by the mine owners. I then requested their permission to improve their model and approach investors for funding. They agreed. Unfortunately, the project was capital intensive and any capital that was coming my way would take months to get to me. I had to make a living so my husband suggested we go pick up steel balls on an abandoned mine and sell them for cash. We did. We made R150 000. From there we approached other mines and realised that the service was in demand. That is how we started.
How did you make the switch from waste management to finance?
Once Yeabo Mining was up and running, we noticed a huge demand in requests for collaboration. This was not because we were the best at what we were doing, it was because our collaborators needed the funding an operation like ours could source.
We are 100% black female owned and the legislation in South Africa is such that we receive preference when we apply for funding. There are also more funding opportunities for businesses that are owned by young, black women. Once we isolated this need, we thought it prudent to investigate and set up a fund that supports junior mining operations. We currently have four clients on our books who mine silica, manganese, gold and chrome.
IMG_0384How can waste be converted into a revenue stream?
Many of the products used in the mining process and the by products of mining still have value even though they have been used. For example, steel is used in the liners that line equipment in the concentrator plant. Once they are worn out; they are discarded and replaced. Each liner weighs 2 tons and there can be 18- 34 liners per plant.
We retrieve the liners from the dump and sell them to a recycler for R1900 per ton. Combine this with about 300 tons of steel balls and you have a legitimate revenue stream. Also, when a specific mineral is removed from the ore, other minerals that are equally valuable remain. Most mines ignore these other minerals if they don’t form part of their core business. Yeabo Mining exploits these minerals and processes them. These are just a few of the ways we generate income from waste.
Considering the sometimes tense nature of mining in South Africa, does social responsibility feature in your business?
Social responsibility is a big part of why we do. Yeabo Mining supports female owned SMME’s (Small Micro medium enterprises) by giving them preference when we do our procurement. We also mentor several young people, many of whom are trying to start businesses in the industry. Mining is treacherous and having someone who is already in the business looking out for you is an advantage.
Also, Yeabo Mining collaborates with community outreach programmes that educate and empower young people in the fields of maths and science. We are a proud patron of the Mining Innovation Initiative of South Africa (MIISA).
BxKqZz12You mentioned that you are engaged in other initiatives, tell us about them.
MIISA is a holder of rights for several initiatives. There is “Let your light shine”, a renewable energy initiative that teaches women how to build solar lamps and sell them for cash. We also have Innovo Health Systems, which provides mobile hospital facilities for rural communities and the MIISA school for Mathematical Excellence and Science Innovation which are a series of pop up schools in the Sekhukhune area of Limpopo that facilitate maths and science clinics for secondary school learners.
The primary goal of these endeavours is to create an industry where South Africa can beneficial its own minerals. We want to ensure that mining builds sustainable, well serviced communities in the area where the specific mines are based. Mines have to be catalysts for change and improved living conditions. It cannot be that Africa provides the world with wealth yet that wealth fails to translate into improved living conditions and lives of the Africans who live and work in these communities.
We must strive to be Afro-centric in our approach to mining and the economy. All efforts must be made to ensure that wealth is not in the hands of a few. No one makes it if we all don’t make it. An inclusive mining economy that focuses its resources on social upliftment and education is a catalyst for an Africa that produces leaders and productive contributors to the country’s GDP.
What advice would you give other young African women looking to make a change in their communities?
As young women in Africa, our mandate is clear. It is incumbent upon us to provide skills and leadership for the improvement of our communities. We can’t sit and wait for opportunities to participate; we have to innovate, pioneer solutions for ourselves so that we can lead the agenda of a transformed and progressive African economy. These dreams cannot be achieved by a continent with hungry people. We must focus on the immediate needs of our people and find our own rhythm for the advancement of our continent. We must take responsibility for our future.

This has been really insightful. Lastly, what was the last picture you took on your phone?

Hahahahaha!!! Bad hair day!!!


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

Zeze Oriaikhi-Sao: Following my life long dream makes the best use of my time

zeze oriaikhi-sao

According to Zeze Oriaikhi-Sao the qualities necessary for a successful beauty entrepreneur are determination, passion, instinct, financial savvy and strong communication skills. Just having a good idea isn’t enough. Zeze is the founder of Malée, a range of luxury fragrance and body care products that draws inspiration from the traditional beauty secrets found across Africa. African beauty and healing secrets don’t get their due and with Malée, Zeze updates them with modern science and technology. The name Malée itself comes from her great grandmother and is a term for a strong-willed woman in Bini language.

What pushed you to start Malée?

In 2009, I moved countries from UK to South Africa. It was the height of the recession and finding a job wasn’t easy. After halted interview processes, I decided that following a life long dream would be a good way to make the best use of my time while having a larger social and economic impact along the way. In a few words, circumstances of the recession forced me to believe that I had something to offer to not only to consumers but to the African economy.

Your brand seems to draw heavily from African traditions, is there any particular reason why you’re inspired by tradition?

I believe there are hidden gems in tradition. Unlocking those with the scientific knowledge we have now and giving a voice to cultures and traditions that otherwise don’t have one in the global market place is a passion. Africa is full of beauty and I deeply motivated to share that.

Malée is present in both South Africa and the UK, what challenges have you faced expanding your brand to other countries?

Each market brings with it a lot of learning. The most important thing I have learnt is that regardless of the country, establishing a brand takes patience, consistency in the quality of your product and service, belief in your brand/business and building a great team to help turn the vision into reality.

We have launched in the UK with 6 of our best selling products. On a stand alone basis they do what we say they should. They work!

UK_mainvisual-copyDo you have any plans to continue expanding within Africa?

Yes, the rest of Africa is definitely on the cards for Malée. I am excited about the next 5 years.

How do you unwind after a long day?

Taking time out for me some ‘me time’. My favourite routine is my at home spa, light some candles, have music playing through my bluetooth headphones then I scrub before settling into the bath, usually while reading something.

What’s one thing in your fridge you always use as a homemade skin treatment?

Lemons; they are just so versatile and harness a lot of natural benefit for the skin. My favourite remedies are my DIY facemask which can be made by mixing baking soda, honey and lemon juice. You can also use lemon to make a detox toner with some green tea and water.zeze oriaikhi-sao

How do you source ingredients for your products?

Ingredient sourcing process begins with understanding what makes up on traditional beauty remedies. I dissect these to understand what ingredients actually have long term skin care or aromatherapy benefits. We take these away and plug them into our formulations and then look for the best local suppliers who have food grade ingredients. If it is good enough to eat, it is good enough for your skin.

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

Nisha Maharaj: Women in tech are admired, go and make things happen!

nisha mahaj woman in tech

Technology innovation is a buzz word across the continent. More investors are rewarding ideas that are disruptive and can be used to make meaningful change in people’s lives. Yet looking through lists of top African tech companies, you may need help finding the women. Enter Nisha Maharaj, the founder of Niche Integrated Solutions which sets up strategic partnerships and innovation platforms in South Africa.

Nisha readily dishes info on the South African tech scene and what it takes to succeed as a woman in tech.

What is the tech scene like in your country? Are there many women in it?

South Africa is advancing in the tech arena, but we can still learn from the tech leaders out there in the rest of the world. My context is to lead some of the best technologies in the world to Africa and vice versa. I also want to lead some of the best of South African technologies to the rest of the world.

Women in technology is always a subject of debate, yes there are many women on the forefront of the tech scene but I still find myself walking into a boardroom of 20 men and 1 woman. That one woman being myself. We need to make a serious effort to change this status quo!

Did you face any obstacles when you started your company? How did you overcome them?

Funding is always a challenge when you start off, new markets , new clients –always stressful. It takes perseverance to get through it and determination coupled with a good business plan is what sets you out from everyone else.  In a way, an entrepreneur learns best the hard way. You simply never give up –that should always be the motto.

I was lucky, I have friends amongst the global leading technology partners in the world and this has helped us close a few multi-million dollar deals in a very short space of time.

Your company is 100% women owned, is there any particular reason for this?

We are 100% black owned, 100% debt free, we have made 100% turnover as compared from one year to the next. The reason we are 100% women owned is simply because we are trying to show the world that women can be leaders in the technology arena as well !

What does it take to establish a successful technology business in Africa?

You need to make a thorough assessment of the technology innovation, critical studies and research on application. Then you need to be sure about your market. Having the best technologies in the world is pointless if you don’t have the right marketing strategy. The take to market and entry point is a critical success factor and if you can get this part right, success is inevitable.

If you could make a 30 second speech to young African women, what would it say?

I would say that Africa is an oyster of opportunity –technology is the one thing in life that will never remain constant. There will always be a demand for it. Women should be more courageous to take on this context of technology. Whether you are a sister, child, mother, grandmother, you don’t need to be a genius to own a technology company.

You simply need to have the business acumen to do well at it in order to thrive. Women in technology are admired, go out there and make it happen!

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Thokozile Mangwiro: Africa is producing the most beautiful, natural and organic skin and hair care products

nyla organic hair care

Global black hair care is on the rise. In South Africa, the black hair care industry was estimated to be valued at R9.7 billion a year in 2015. Budding entrepreneur Thokozile Mangwiro believes that Africa is producing the most beautiful, natural and organic skin and hair care products. Her brand, Nyla is reaching for a share in that billion rand market by creating products using marula oil, an indigenous oil to southern Africa.

What is the natural  hair scene like in Johannesburg? What sort of events do you have?

The natural hair movement in Johannesburg is absolutely inspiring. There is a lot of consciousness and awareness about the movement from chemically laden products towards greener natural hair care. We are currently in the midst of the South African winter which can be very harsh to the skin and hair. Protective styling is the order of the day. Hair-line friendly plaits and wigs are definitely in.
Naturals here also have “Hair stokvels”, where we get together to share and educate each other about caring for and growing our natural hair. Hair stokvels also have natural hair care product stalls and guest speakers. There are other events like the “For Black Girls Only” event, which does not set out to exclude other races, brings together all African women from all walks of like to celebrate just who we are.


Why does your brand focus on marula oil?

We believe that marula oil the secret to timeless hair  and skin nourishment. This magical oil is obtained from the core of the marula fruit. Marula oil is indigenous to Southern Africa, yet clientele have never heard of it and it’s rich properties. The Tsonga women of South Africa and Mozambique have used this oil as a moisturiser and a massage oil on babies for years. Marula oil has protected the African skin and hair against harsh and dry, hot and humid weather conditions.  It’s multi-purpose, used for personal care and is safe for both babies and adults.

Marula oil contains properties that create a high performing cosmetic oil that mimics the skin’s outer layer, regenerates the skin cells, thus promoting a youthful looking, well-nourished healthy skin. It’s a light weight oil, meaning it quickly absorbs into the skin and hair, while leaving a non-greasy silky smooth feeling. It is gentle enough to use alone or with any lotions and facial skin creams.

Do you only create hair care products?

We focus solely on natural hair with Nilotiqa Hair Care which is formulated for dry and damaged hair. Nyla Marula Beauty is our luxury natural and organic brand that caters for all types of skin and hair care. Our Marula Evolution Collection showcases pure Marula oil, fused it with various natural botanical and organic ingredients to create the most luxurious products to nourish skin and hair. Because the products are organic and natural, they are suitable for all skin types.

Our product line consists of a deep replenishing co-washing conditioner, deep moisturizing butter, detangling cream and nourishing scalp and hair oil. Our natural products are formulated with high-quality nourishing ingredients such as shea butter, coconut oil, castor oil and avocado oil. We avoid artificial sourcing of ingredients and our products do not contain petroleum, lanolin, parabens, phthalates, or artificial colors.


What tools do you use to grow your business?

Firstly, our business is incubated. This has given the business organizational, financial and operational structure. Secondly, we ensure that we collaborate with cosmetic organisations that have high standards for compliance. This forces us to look into how compliant we are and ensure we distribute high quality products locally and internationally.

Lastly, we purposely use social media to reach out to clients that are not only local, but also international.

What is your favourite style for a bad hair day?

Bad hair days for me means seriously dry hair. I first try to get moisture back in my hair using my Nilotiqua Deep Moisture Butter.  I am lucky enough to have long dreadlocks and so after adding the butter, I can just tie my hair up into a bun.
I am also huge fan of head wraps, known as doek in South Africa. Those can get you by for a week.

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