Message to women entrepreneurs

In keeping with the theme this month of honouring women in entrepreneurship, I thought it would be special to share an interview with one of the Centre for Entrepreneurship (CFE) team members it is my privilege to lead.

Ncebakazi Mathanzima is our technical manager and plays a key part in the many ways we serve our beneficiaries and entrepreneurs.

She is one of three women in our small, lean team at the CFE.

I asked her to give a little of her background; what she does at the CFE; how we support entrepreneurs during the crisis and to share some nuggets for entrepreneurs and women.

Ncebakazi grew up in the Eastern Cape with two brothers and a sister. They were raised by a single mother and moved to Cape Town while she was in high school.

She is a single mother with an 8-year-old daughter.

Ncebakazi has been at the CFE for three years as a technical manager at the Rapid Incubator, which consists of two mini factories (furniture and metal fabrication) and a maker space.

She has worked as a Computer Numerical Control (CNC) and design technician and with that design and manufacturing background is able to assist and coach entrepreneurs that are in the manufacturing industry.

She also manages the setup of the Rapid Incubator with current technology systems and equipment needed by businesses in the manufacturing sector, and coordinates the use of equipment and the mini factories for the benefit of the entrepreneurs.

She works a lot on the “behind the scenes” side of coaching to help coordinate coaching results and tracking coaching outputs which looks at the growth and development of the businesses and individuals they serve.

How has the CFE sought to support entrepreneurs during the crisis?

The CFE as any other institution and business was faced with the challenge of keeping going the learning, coaching and growth of entrepreneurs throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

We had to act fast and move our learning to available online platforms that could be accessible to everyone regardless of their financial state or access to resources.

We made our learning programme available on WhatsApp, Zoom and constantly kept in touch with entrepreneurs throughout the lockdown period.

We have helped them to work on new ideas and ways to align their businesses with the current pandemic.

We also hosted personal development workshops and ways to get new ideas.

What are some of the challenges that you are aware of that entrepreneurs are facing at this time?

Entrepreneurs have faced a lot of challenges due to the pandemic and lockdown.

Many of them have had to shut down completely and have lost income. Some quickly got alternative products and services to keep themselves afloat.

Businesses in tourism, training, fashion, furniture, building and home improvements and some that are in services, are most hit by the pandemic.

During lockdown the market was focused more on Covid-19 supplies.

Many entrepreneurs are now faced with the challenge to come up with ideas to align their businesses to the pandemic and have to create a demand for their products regardless of the current situation.

Ncebakazi offered these thoughts in facing a crisis:

Always be positioned for growth so that you can handle, learn and benefit from any kind of situation.

I believe that wherever you are, you are there for a purpose and in the words of Angela Basset I want to encourage you that in everything, “Find your purpose, pursue it relentlessly, passionately and loudly, be persistent and win”

I’m focused, I am a person who always wants to achieve things and better myself and my family and I once came across a quote that says “Life is what you do while you’re busy preparing for your future’’ and that made me realise that I have to enjoy the breaks in between my busy life. You’ve got to enjoy the present while you are mindful of what is to come. Doing everything out of love and diligence always has a reward.

Any parting words for women?

To every woman whether in business or not, wherever you are; remember why we celebrate Women’s Day.

For me it commemorates women who took the stand to be heard, to break the systems that crippled their ability to thrive as women, voiced their struggles and made a difference.

As we enjoy freedom to be creative, to work and be exceptional in any kind of industry, let our generation of women be remembered as women who took the baton and served our families, our communities and lead our country with courage.

Women who created opportunities for ourselves and those coming after us and let us be remembered as women who built and lead lasting businesses.
Steve Reid is the manager of the Centre for Entrepreneurship at False Bay College.

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