In celebration of women’s month IDC profiled female entrepreneur, Xoliswa Bebula founder of Mazwe Financial Services who opened up about her entrepreneurial journey and the role IDC played to grow her business from R2 Million to R300 million In 24 Months.
Through Ms Bebula’s leadership, Mazwe Financial Services won several awards, including coming 3rd at the 2012 IDC Business Partner Awards in the Small and Medium Business category for Job Creation. She was also recognised by the Kingdom Business Network (KBN) as the Most Inspirational Business Woman of 2017.
When did you decide to go into business and how has your journey been so far?
I had a vision of what I wanted to achieve with regards to contributing to the development of our country’s economy. While that may seem like a noble goal, realising it has been the most challenging journey that I have ever undertaken. I have experienced soul-destroying rejections and gender-based prejudice. However, I have also received amazing support that strengthened my determination to make my business a success. Throughout this journey, my faith in what I needed to achieve has never been shaken and if anything, that original vision has become even clearer to me.
Do we have enough women business owners, or would you say we need more women in business?
There is no doubt that we need more women representation in business. Women-owned companies are good for the country as a whole. We can make a concerted effort to reach more women who are currently under-served by the big corporations. For example, indications are that women are starting businesses at a higher rate than men, yet they are less likely to receive financial backing for their enterprises. I believe that it is specifically because of the challenges we have faced as a woman-owned business that we can use our experience to empower others.
IDC has contributed in assisting your business, what has been the impact of their support on your business?
IDC played a critical role and was a catalyst in growing our company from a R2 Million book, to R300 million, which was accomplished over a period of 24 months. Through IDC’s funding we managed to create a total of 2,825 jobs through the Small and Medium Enterprises we worked on.
How many employees do you currently have?
We have 48 employees.
In the beginning, how did you learn about the IDC and its services?
We learnt of the IDC through its website. Without knowing anyone at the institution, we dialled the number that was displayed on the website. Two days after that telephone conversation we were invited for a meeting where we presented our business case. That was the beginning of our journey with the IDC.
What advice would you give women who are planning to start or run their own businesses?
As an entrepreneur, you are surely going to experience challenges and you must be able to distinguish critical issues from normal growing pains. Only passion, discipline and resilience can sustain you to keep you going on. Be Diligent. Diligence is the key to winning every race. This is a skill that combines creative persistence, a smart working effort rightly planned and rightly performed in a timely, efficient, and effective manner to attain a result that is pure and of the highest quality of excellence. Also, craft down your vision and your vision mapping process. Set a vision which is an expression of your purpose. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.
What is your general message to women this women’s month?
We have to take control of our wealth and legacy decisions. By wealth I am not necessarily referring to material goods or multi-million assets. Mental and physical well-being count as wealth. Of great importance is to live on purpose, remembering that it’s not enough to have lived, but experience joy that surpasses all understanding by finding something to live for. You can only realise that purpose if you take a concerted effort to connect with your Creator.