Ruth Mthabine (43) was retrenched from her banking job and that inspired her to venture into entrepreneurship.
The 43-year-old worked as a risk consultant in the IT department at ABSA, but her contract was discontinued in 2012.
She then registered Masigide Consulting, a firm that assists women-led small enterprises in rural areas with mentorship and training, along with other support programmes.
In 2015 she then became a business development service provider for SEED, a non-profit organisation providing enterprise development eco-inclusive enterprises in rural areas of KwaZulu Natal, Limpompo and Mpumalanga.
“We are mostly in rural areas because people there have great ideas, but they don’t know where to go. I guide them and demonstrate that their ideas can be turned into great businesses,” said during an interview with IOL.
“I also teach basic things such as customer service, how you take orders, and how to package orders to make them look nice.”
Hailing from Bushbuckrigdge, in Mpumalanga, she holds a public management and administration degree from Unisa. The entrepreneur’s experience growing up in a rural area has inspired her to also support women in those areas.
“I focus on women because they are breadwinners. I know first-hand the kind of challenges they face.”
MthabinE also provides some of her services to corporate giants like Samsung, South African Breweries, and Bushbuckridge Local Municipality.
Despite the success, she reveals that the seven years in business have been tough.
“When you are a black woman you have to prove yourself 100 times in order for people to do business with you,” she says.
“But I just remind myself of why I went into business in the first place and also reflect on the impact that I’m making in people’s lives.”
The entrepreneur says she inspired to work with other women to create a new movement of eco-friendly businesses.
“Let’s be the change that we want to see, one woman at a time. That has been my approach. You don’t need a whole lot of women to make an impact.
“I want to grow into a space where women support each other, and to make sure that we all grow together.”
She adds: “Mostly we support women who are in eco-friendly businesses. Your business should take care of social issues, it shouldn’t be about taking profit and go. Solve problems in community and take care of the environment. We are a more eco inclusive enterprise development.”
Mthabine adds that her retrenchment from ABSA couldn’t have come at a better time even though she was never prepared for it.
“There were massive retrenchments taking place at Absa at the time. And it hit me. I was never prepared for it,” she says.
“I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t have a Plan B. However, the calling that I should go into business was already there but, you know, having a job gave me a sense of security.”
The entrepreneur has also inspired her son Akhona to start a foundation after his name, Akhona Teens Leadership Foundation.
The foundation exists to provide under privileged teenagers with educational services and workshops to prepare them to successfully navigate teenage years.