A healing hand

FEELING GOOD: Senati Fisha says wellness is a necessity, not a luxury. Pic. Puxley  Makgatho. 01/10/08. © Unknown,
FEELING GOOD: Senati Fisha says wellness is a necessity, not a luxury. Pic. Puxley Makgatho. 01/10/08. © Unknown,

Maryanne Maina

Maryanne Maina

Wellness is fast growing into a billion dollar industry globally, rivalled only by the food and pharmaceutical sectors.

People's fast-paced lives increasingly mean that they must, at some point, regroup and strike a healthy balance between career, family, mind, body and soul.

Fishawellness, which was founded in 1994 by Senati Fisha, a registered psychologist, is helping South Africans find that balance.

Fisha said: "Fishawellness means be well, think well and stay well. I founded it to promote wellbeing of the mind and physical body holistically.

"Wellness is not a luxury but a necessity. Emotional pain is intolerable and one needs to talk about it to reduce it or eliminate it."

Fishawellness' services include spa treatments, financial advice, trauma management, HIV/Aids management, psychological help, counselling and wellness skills training for corporates.

The 54-year-old, who has 30 years' experience in the field, has worked hard to turn her passion into a viable business with a R13million turnover last year and R8million from March to August.

Her entrepreneurial skills were motivated by her studies and her need to provide care to those in need, but starting up was not easy.

"While I was studying, I endured a lot of challenges - especially financial. I was studying, supporting my three children, mother and grandmother," she said.

She studied by day and worked nights as a charge nurse. "Sleep was a luxury and I did this for three years and passed as the best student. This is where I learnt to be determined and focused despite my hardships," she said.

The biggest question on Fisha's mind when she started Fishawellness was whether this kind of business would be embraced by black people since psychology was at that time associated with white people.

But, business boomed and by the the sixth month she had too many clients and the turnover was more than R1million. "We were doing well but I didn't understand how finances work in a business. I also didn't know how a health institute works with a medical aid company. The medical aid company couldn't understand how and why I had so many clients and they refused to pay me for 10 months, so I lost at least R2million to R3million, which has never been recovered.

"This was a painful lesson for me. I decided to study business and how it works and my daughter was doing commerce in school and later she did her MBA and has been assisting me since then," she said.