How a black- and female-owned business is becoming a township success
Tshwanelo Ntshudisane left her career in marketing to start not one but two township businesses
Tshwanelo Ntshudisane hails from Kgabalatsane in Pretoria, where she got her first big break as a marketing assistant at Times Media Group.
She left the position to start her own communications business, Yvega Communications, as well as Marble Rose, which began as a concierge and gifting agency and later added logistics as a service.
Ntshudisane tells us how she turned a huge leap of faith into two profitable businesses.
What inspired you to move from marketing to logistics?
“I read a lot of entrepreneurial books and I remember reading that when you start a business, you need to solve a problem. I saw that there were a lot of small businesses in the townships that were trying to flourish and get themselves out there. As I assist them with their marketing, I also assist them with the distribution side through Marble Rose.”
How did you pick the name for your businesses?
“Marble Rose was just a name that popped into my head. I wish I had an interesting story. The only interesting story is Yvega, which comes from my grandparents, Yvonne and Garamase. “
How do you juggle your responsibilities between the two companies?
“It’s very difficult especially because I do not have any business employees. I do everything myself – for now. I work very long work hours, and I just schedule my day accordingly. I work anything between 5am to 8pm juggling both Marble Rose and Yvega Communications. It’s just a matter of scheduling my day.”
What difficulties have you faced as a black businesswoman?
“The biggest challenge is getting people to believe you – for them to actually become your clients is a lot of work. At some point I spent almost a year doing most of the work for free because you have to prove yourself. You have to prove you know what you’re doing. Especially when you don’t have a track record in the specific industry you are in.”
How did you deal with that?
“Doing a lot of work for free helped me build my profile. As soon as I mentioned the small businesses I’ve worked with to large businesses, they started trusting me. They saw my portfolio; they saw I know what I’m talking about – especially in the township where my passion is.
“Social media also helped me a lot, especially on Twitter. I’ve got quite a number of followers. I think I’m on 4,000. It’s not a large number but people trust what I tweet and what I talk about. It makes it easier for them to trust me with my work.”
What has been your biggest highlight?
“I can’t take their success upon myself, but I think it’s seeing the businesses I have helped grow. That’s what I love seeing happen the most.”
What advice can you give to young black women in business who are scared of starting their own ventures?
“Start with what you have. When I started my businesses, I literally did not have anything. I quit my job and I had to start from the ground. A lot of people think that when you don’t have enough money or enough resources, you can’t do anything. To a certain extent it’s true but also you need to start with what you have. That is very important. And also, once you start, don’t stop. “