Interior decorator wins Entrepreneur of the Year Award

ENTERPRISE PRIZED: Fikile Dlamini, the second runner-up, Sellinah Shiba, one of the finalists, Agnes Malebane, winner of the Mageu No 1 Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and Motshidisi Tau, the first runner-up. Pic. Thobeka Ndabula. 04/03/07. © Sowetan.
ENTERPRISE PRIZED: Fikile Dlamini, the second runner-up, Sellinah Shiba, one of the finalists, Agnes Malebane, winner of the Mageu No 1 Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and Motshidisi Tau, the first runner-up. Pic. Thobeka Ndabula. 04/03/07. © Sowetan.

Namhla Tshisela

Namhla Tshisela

Three women stood out at the Sowetan Women's Club forum, held at the Turffontein Racecourse, south of Johannesburg, last month.

Agnes Malebane's entrepreneurial prowess shone the brightest when she - together with Motshidisi Tau and Fikile Dlamini - was honoured in the inaugural Mageu No 1 Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.

Malebane was given a R15000 cash prize and Tau and Dlamini took home R7000 and R4000 respectively.

An interior decorator based in Fourways, Johannesburg, Malebane started Dee Decor House in 1995 without formal training, after trying her hand at curtain- making and re-upholstering.

Malebane regards interior decorating as a natural talent passed on to her from her mother, who was a seamstress. Working in other people's houses and companies, Malebane takes cues from their styles, budget and personality to transform areas into comfortable and fashionable spaces.

Currently working with a core staff of four at the last count, Malebane employs more people on demand.

She was pleasantly surprised by the interest people took in her business, which she attributes partly to word of mouth.

"I did so well in the first month that I bought six sewing machines and I haven't looked back," she said.

Malebane's award windfall came as another surprise, and it took her more than a week to get over it.

Malebane thanked her husband, Norman, whom she fondly calls Dee, and after whom the business was named. "I wouldn't have come this far without his support," she said.

Winning the award has motivated Malebane to achieve more, and to inspire and share her skills with others.

"I offer training to women, teaching them to make cushions, curtains, blinds and to do re-upholstering," she said.

Malebane considers her success a big achievement and will plough her winnings back into her business.

"This is a sign of better things to come."

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