Women’s Day Special: 3 Inspirational Young Female Entrepreneurs in South Africa

Every year on the 9th of August, South Africa takes time out to commemorate all the women (past and present) who make our country great. In celebration of this year’s National Women’s Day, we’re profiling 3 young female entrepreneurs who are at the top of their game and Forbes’ list of ‘Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs in Africa 2016’.

These inspirational women are strong, brave and determined to succeed; they know how to get stuff done and how to make “problems work for them”.

Mogau Seshone – The Lazy Makoti

Inspired by a friend who was looking for cooking lessons on South African cuisine, as she was about to start her journey as a new wife and had to spend a few months living with her in-laws but – shockingly – couldn’t find a place in South Africa that offered lessons on local cuisine, Mogau Seshone decided to give a few lessons herself. After receiving more requests for lessons from others, Mogau realised that there was a gap in the market. The Consumer Science graduate then took the plunge and left her position as an Intern Auditor to pursue her business full-time.

The Lazy Makoti – when translated, means the lazy bride – came to life in 2014 and almost immediately took off. The Lazy Makoti specifically caters to the modern woman who loves food but, ironically can’t find herself in the kitchen and is also learning how to balance motherhood, career and a social and personal life. The company offers cooking lessons to the modern woman by going to people’s houses and teaching them how to make authentic South African dishes such as tripe, breyani and chakalaka. Her company also sells recipe journals, aprons and branded chopping boards, to name a few.

SAB Kickstart and Partnership with Phillips

After doing very well in her business pitch at the SAB Kickstart dinner on Mandela Day, she was able to make it to the top 10 where she is currently going through a mentorship programme where business experts are helping her polish her business idea. Her second highlight was getting Phillips as one of her major clients almost immediately after opening The Lazy Makoti. Once Phillips introduces a new product into the market, the company will test it out by showing the public how it works, while giving cooking lessons.

Mogau has been able to hire a few employees who help out with the lessons, thus creating job opportunities. At 26, this young woman is going far.

Rea Ngwane and Thato Kgathlhanye – Repurpose of Schoolbags

When entrepreneurs and childhood friends, Rea and Thato realised that a lot of school children living in informal settlements carried books in plastic bags while walking to school and still don’t have access to basic needs such as water and electricity, they both realised they had to do something. That’s when the idea of their company started.

Shining light on issues faced by disadvantaged school children

Repurpose of Schoolbags is an organisation that recycles plastic bags and turns them into school bags. The school bags are fitted with a solar panel that charges every time a school child walks to school generating up to 12 hours of power. These bags allow the child to study after dark in homes with no electricity and the retro-reflective design of the material creates visibility for the child as they walk to and from school. These school children leave home early in the morning, sometimes while it’s still dark, and walk on unsafe roads making them more exposed to the dangers of being hit by cars due to limited visibility.

Thato Kgathlhanye

Having launched their company when they were both 18 and Rea Ngwane now having left the company, the idea came to the minds of both entrepreneurs a while back. When Thato entered a competition to create an organic product which mirrored nature she had an idea to create a bag which mimicked a bird’s nest. This design placed her in third place, winning her R300 000 of working capital. And to think, this dream started in a small space.

Feeling inspired? Click here to find out which unit space will work best for your start-up idea.