In South Africa, for women to become business professionals and/or women entrepreneurs – one needs to put in double the effort to build a strong foundation for themselves in order to be recognized. Most companies are still adjusting to equality. However, many female professionals and business women have contributed massively to the economy.
Late 2018 at the Pearson Institute of Higher Learning (Work Integrated Learning Breakfast Session) I had the opportunity of meeting a phenomenal women, Lerato Kadiaka. Speaking to her afforded me the opportunity of getting to know her as a young professional and her business African Ambition. Lerato Kadiaka is young-ambitious woman, that aspires to be an inspiration to many young black girls and all great things in life.
Who is Lerato Kadiaka?
”I was born and bred in the Eastrand. I am the eldest in the family of 3 with 2 brothers. Although my family is originally from Polokwane” says Lerato. She shared with us the memories of the fresh smell of cow dung in the morning, the floor being polished with it, the walks in between the mountains ”but I also cherish every minute of growing up in the streets of Vosloorus” she added.
She also added by saying “When I was young I rarely played in the streets. I loved watching TV because to me it has always been like a schooling session especially the Kideo, Pumpkin patch and Shera kiddies programs. It was helpful with learning grammar and overall communication.
I studied Marketing then went on to do my Honours with Vega the School of Branding however, my 1st option when I completed my matric was being a DJ. I love all things branding, how they started, those that disrupted the industry and consistently catered for their customers.”
She went on to say ”I like travelling both local and abroad, I like conversing with different people, and hearing their ideas.” She believes that we are all great and we all want the same things in a different way but we just need to listen to each other carefully and embrace patience and time.
What inspired the business idea ?
”Not to be disrespectful and egoistic but while serving under different people in the corporate, I always had a challenge with taking instructions. I would always think that we can do better, that we can save here and/or take a different direction than that we have. Sometimes I would think to myself that am I really a difficult employee? But now when I think back , it unveils to me that I am indeed a great student and teacher at heart.”
Lerato has an enormous background in marketing and branding. She worked for one of the big 5 insurance companies in South Africa as a Talent Specialist. She told us that she saw an opportunity to marry all her skills and offer them to clients as professional services for businesses. She went on to tell us that she likes people, working on concepts and giving someone an opportunity to work for themselves.
When and Why did you start the business?
Her business was registered in 2015 but only started operating in May 2017. She says ”The scariest decision I have ever made in my life.” She added by saying ”The path to the other side is unknown until you walk in it.
My ‘why’ was; freedom, time, money and educating, empowering, adding value but for the most part I was on a mission to create opportunities for young people especially graduates.”
What measures have you put in place to ensure sustainability of your business?
She said “As a young business women, you have the prerogative of taking a different direction should the model not work, change the strategy to see fit that an organisation needs to be aware of the new trends and align the business to local and global trends with a quick turnaround strategy.” She went on to describe her organization by saying “We are a boutique consulting company and we look at different income stream that can add into the business.”
Financial backing for your business or self-funding?
”It is self-funded.”
What services or products do you offer / manufacture?
”African ambition offer clients services that include; HR and training services, Talent management, Branding and other business consulting.”
Given the type of industry you are in, what is your typical day like?
“I prefer to have a ‘To Achieve List’ for the day and week. The week would be planned on Sunday evening then break tasks into daily tasks. Thereafter, my day would start with client meetings in the morning, then make calls to potential clients or suppliers, catch up with the team and then respond to emails (tackling my ‘To Achieve List’).”
Do you ever regret some placements?
“Most of the time I don’t, because I place on my guts, after ensuring that you are fit and proper.”
What the responsibilities as the business owner?
”I am a marketer, a business developer, an IT tech, a coach to my team members and then I still need to keep myself updated with the trends and what is happening in the business environment.”
Does your company do CSI and/or help the community it’s based in?
”I do coaching for young graduates in career branding, putting together you’re CV and preparing for the interview.”
What is your view on entrepreneurship in South Africa or Africa?
Lerato says that she believes that entrepreneurs play an important role in our economy and society because when one starts a business, one believes that they will conquer the world, in this context the Market. But once you are outside of corporate and fulfilling your dream of entrepreneurship you realise that as an entrepreneur you are on your own, and you have to fight your way to everything. Some of these battles are with the government, corporate and also society but also ”I think that there hasn’t been a lot done to support entrepreneurs or to encourage people to start their own businesses.” she added.
Who are some of the influential people you look up to?
Lerato says she looks up the likes of Amanda Dambuza; who is a businesswoman, Elle boss winner for 2017 (@amandadambuza) .Sylvester Chauke; the owner of DNA Agency, Khanyi Dlomo founder of Ndalo Media (@khanyidlomo) and Lilian Dube the legendary actor.
Hard lesson learned in business?
”Not everything is going to go the way you have planned it so you need to be flexible and don’t dwell on mistakes i.e. client that are not paying you, wrong decisions but once you see that you are going off track, identify”
What book has inspired you the most? (OR What is your favourite book?)
- Capitalist Nigga,
- The Secret
- and Think and grow rich
Where do you see yourself and your Business in 10 years time?
” Having built a solid foundation in South Africa and moving into Africa and internationally.”
What advice would you give to someone who is starting out?
”Start building solid business relationships and a client’s base, so that once you start you already have a base on which you may work on.”
To find out more about African Ambition on their website.