Lawyer Belinda Mapongwana saw gap for young women
At four, Belinda Mapongwana knew she wanted to be a lawyer.
The founder of the Mapongwana Attorneys, a boutique law firm based in Sandton, Johannesburg, explains: "It was the sociopolitical conditions faced by black people at the time, and the lack of justice that inspired me.
"My aim was to make a difference in people's lives using law. Growing up at Gugulethu township in Cape Town, I would confidently tell anyone who asked me what I wanted to be after finishing school that I wanted to be a lawyer."
Her law firm which began operating in 2014 provides practical and cost-effective legal solutions to businesses.
She made her move after realising a gap in the market for small, black and female-owned practices specialising in corporate and commercial law.
"I wanted to provide legal services to small, micro and medium enterprises (SMMEs) that could not afford the rates charged by the big firms. I felt they were vulnerable because they did not have access to the kind of legal advice they needed," Mapongwana.
"I also realised that the kind of law firms that SMMEs could typically afford were not always able to offer professional and correct corporate commercial legal advice."
She said being a black woman owning a law firm came with challenges as other people didn't trust her enough.
Mapongwana said two things she liked about her job were connecting with people and solving legal problems in a practical manner.
Her business has grown over the years.
"I am also very thankful to Raizcorp [business incubator] who accepted me on their business growth programme.
"Through Raizcorp, I have also gained a number of clients. I am more comfortable with my strengths and more aware of my areas of development," added Mapongwana, who also loves spending time with her daughter and mentoring young attorneys.
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