Nomahlubi opened her holding company when she was 19 and has never looked back

Zweli Mokgata

Zweli Mokgata

Being an entrepreneur at any age is tough, but for 24-year-old Nomahlubi Mbeki, who runs her own holding company, Afro Centro Productions, it has been a matter of finding the right opportunities and being extremely determined to succeed.

"It's been difficult being this young and also a black female," Mbeki says.

"I've had to deal with people as old as my mother being my employees. I have to remember respect, but there also have to be boundaries."

The East London-born entrepre-neur was six years old when she started selling sweets to her classmates, and by 14 she had opened up a hair salon from home.

"It became very successful, I think too successful," she says.

"My school teachers wanted my parents to close it down because they said it was interfering with my schoolwork."

Mbeki started Afro Centro when she was only 19, while still studying, and has managed to build it into an organisation that now employs about 60 people in different entities across the Eastern Cape.

Operations include foreign investment portfolios, business development, human resources, construction and property developments, events and project management, and ethnic fashion production.

"It was a lot of work, but I had a vision for my community and Africa as a whole," Mbeki says.

Mbeki's hard work was recently recognised by the Women Entrepre-neurs and Achievers Network (Wean), which held its first awards ceremony earlier this month to honour the contributions of women to development in Africa. She was nominated in the Young Enterprising Entrepreneur and Gender Equity categories. - Courtesy of