A woman who dares to dream big

Khanyisile Nkosi

When Nancy Mashobane started playing host to a variety of people who frequented her house almost daily, little did she know that this would lead to a luxurious bed and breakfast that would attract even the Whos Who of this country.

Mashobane, 57, was widowed at 28. She has always been surrounded by people and says her B&B business has been coming for a long time. While she lived in Pimville, Soweto, she used to host braais for friends, family members and tourists.

"They used to call my house an international house because of the variety of people I used to host," she says.

So when she found a plot for sale in Walkerville, south of Johannesburg, she immediately knew that she had found what she had been looking for.

"I knew that the time had come for me to start the business. It was almost like a calling and I just grabbed it," she says.

Her business, Thoriso Venue Solutions, which is easily accessible from Vereeniging, Lenasia and Soweto, started operating last year.

Not a great believer in debts, Mashobane used her savings to turn the plot into one of Johannesburg's most sought-after guest venues.

"I don't like having too much debts. I really try hard to minimise it," she says, adding that she bought most of her materials for cash.

In the yard, Mashobane built seven big and beautifully furnished guest rooms she named after her family members.

Her favourite room, Manyana, named after her surviving daughter (her son and mother died in 1998), boast a queen bed, brown leather coach and very stylish pedestals.

Interestingly, Mashobane takes pride in the bedding used in all the rooms.

"The bedding we put on our beds makes you feel like royalty. I want my guests to let their hair down and enjoy the comfort."

She says giving customers what they want is what she and her team - chef Bong'umusa Gumede, housekeeper Nomsa Mtshali and manager Poppy Moeng strive for.

Her focus is not only on the B&B services. She also does wedding planning, anniversaries, birthdays, team-building sessions, conferences, workshops and also offers a head-to-toe spa.

But Mashobane's success did not come easily. Coming from a family of eight, she was inspired by her mother who raised her large family single-handedly on a domestic's wages after their father died. Machobane was only 13 and her youngest brother was only two-years-old.

"My mother worked long hours to maintain the standard of living. She made sure that we went to school. Today my brother is an engineer. I did not go to school but I learnt from her that I had to work hard to live the comfortable life I wanted. She instilled in us a sense of responsibility.

An accredited financial skills trainer and an education, training and development practitioner, Mashobane also enjoys "workshopping" people on financial matters.

"I encourage people to invest and spend their money wisely. I always ask women for instance why they have clothing accounts when they can buy for cash. My thinking is that if you don't have money, wait until you have some and then buy what you need."

Could that be the reason why most aspiring entrepreneurs fall along the way? I asked.

"Definitely," she says. "Most of us have been conditioned to think in a certain way. We refuse to think out of the box. We don't dream big," she says.

"The biggest hindrance for most women is that we want to impress other people with what we don't have and end up living above our means. It is up to us to educate ourselves because there is so much we can do out there."

Mashobane oozes energy and confidence and says she will not retire before she turns Thoriso Venue Solutions into a five-star holidaying facility.

And with that determination, she sure will.