Soft drinks are her bread and butter

Verda Maluleka stands outside a warehouse she owns in Louis Trichardt, Makhado, which deals with the distribution of Coca-Cola beverages. / ANTONIO MUCHAVE
Verda Maluleka stands outside a warehouse she owns in Louis Trichardt, Makhado, which deals with the distribution of Coca-Cola beverages. / ANTONIO MUCHAVE

Venturing into a male-dominated industry has always been a Herculean task for women. But Verda Maluleka decided to take the bull by the horns when an opportunity presented itself.

The 38-year-old mother of four is currently operating a warehouse in Louis Trichardt in the Makhado municipality, where she deals with the distribution of Coca-Cola soft drinks to businesses in the northern parts of Limpopo.

Maluleka was employed at Coca-Cola for some years until an opportunity
presented itself for her to run her own business, which was established in February last year.

She currently has 12 workers and hopes to expand her business to the rest of the continent. Over and above being a family woman, Maluleka has the responsibility of running the businesses on her own from Monday to Saturday.

Sometimes, during peak periods, her business operates for seven days a week.

"When the opportunity presented itself to run the logistics of distributing soft drinks I never thought twice. I knew I had the acumen and expertise to operate the business," said the soft-spoken woman who was born in Seshego, Polokwane.

Her business, LDP Makhado, has
excelled in making sure that drinks are distributed in Botlokwa, Louis Trichardt, Waterpoort and surrounding areas.

To her, the business does not go without challenges though.

"I sometimes get calls from shop owners who complain of running out of stock and I have to make sure that distribution is done timeously to allow them to operate their businesses without hindrances."

Maluleka said her success story derived from the fact that she is a hands-on person. "I'm always there physically to ensure that nothing goes wrong in my business
because if that happens it will reflect bad on me and my business," she said.

When Sowetan visited Maluleka at her warehouse recently, she was clad in overalls and busy helping out with the packing of products so they could be counted prior to distribution to various shops.

She manages to juggle her demanding work with her family responsibilities, thanks to her husband "for always being supportive in whatever I do".

"I've given myself five years from now. Thereafter, I want to expand my business by taking over the logistics of distributing soft drinks to the whole of Africa."

Maluleka rents out trucks to help her distribute the items. Her message to women is that they must never be afraid of tackling opportunities as they come their way. "Let's face the challenges. If opportunities arise in any field, be it male-dominated or not, the constitution of our country allows us to go for it."

She hopes to employ as many youths as possible as a way of removing them from the streets where they end up committing crimes. "Given an opportunity, I can employ as many as 20 youths as time goes by."

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