Why Rita Zwane's 'busy corner' story could not be contained

Progressive businesswoman Rita Zwane
Progressive businesswoman Rita Zwane

From a journey that began at primary school selling sweets to a serious businesswoman who owns the biggest shisanyama in Gauteng, Rita Zwane is a true trailblazer.

Zwane is the owner of Imbizo Shisanyama in Ebony Park, formerly known as Busy Corner, and she unpacks her journey through the book titled Conquering the Poverty of the Mind - MaZwane's Story.

The book, that is available in book shops nationwide, is written by Zwane with the help of Isabella Morris.

It is a simple book written in a clear font detailing an inspiring story of how the passion for selling began in a young girl from Umlazi in Durban.

She sold sweets and graduated to selling fat cakes and later sold jerseys.

Conquering the Poverty of the Mind talks about her childhood, family, how she fell pregnant, her struggles in Johannesburg and how Imbizo Shisanyama began.

When Zwane landed in Johannesburg in 1989, living with one of her friends who was studying to be a doctor, she struggled to get a permanent job until she did a secretary's course with Kelly Greenoaks College.

Once she got a job as a secretary she started to put her dream in motion.

Fuelled by the idea of becoming a businesswoman, at some point Zwane had four jobs. She worked as a receptionist, as a waiter part-time, ran a shisanyama at night from a shipping container and leased her car to a courier company every week.

Zwane's book is well written and edited, with clear and concise English.

It is packed with informative and educative information on how she got into business. It is the kind of book that makes you believe everything is possible.

Its purpose is to inspire people and that is well captured.

As much as she relates a journey full of hardships from a young age to where she is, as a reader you cannot help but admire her tenacity and courage.

Asked about the purpose of the book, Zwane said: "I wrote this book because I wanted to share stories of my journey and struggles. Most importantly, I wanted the book to inspire people and encouraged them."

Zwane explains her hard work was influenced by the fact that she always hated "me-time."

"I hated loitering around. I hated to waste my time sitting and doing nothing. When I had made up my mind that I wanted to be a businesswoman, I started buying books on how to make it. I wanted to know how successful people do this and what sets them apart from others."

As much as the book is about her journey, Zwane takes some time unpacking the art of entrepreneurship and its challenges, especially in the food and beverages industry.

"I speak about the art of entrepreneurship because I wanted to educate people. I had to share my 20 years' experience in entrepreneurship to inspire others who still want to come to the industry."

Some of the challenges she faced included trying to secure a liquor licence, a process hampered by a lot of red tape.

"There was a lot of harassment until a breakthrough came in 2003 when the department of economic development signed a proclamation act where people were allowed to have temporary licences.

"When I look back now, I did not understand that the biggest consumers of alcohol were township people but it was not OK for black businesses to make money out of it."

Zwane explained that another challenge she faced was getting funding to upgrade from containers to a building structure because banks did not understand the business concept of a shisanyama at the time.

She said the shisanyama business had gone on to become one of the biggest tourist attractions, and a major contributor to GDP.

The book is informative and inspiring.

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