I am a new breed of an African business woman, who has been publicly earmarked by Bill Gates to be one of the entrepreneurs to watch on the African continent. Before the billionaires of the world paid me any attention, I was led by my heart to express myself creatively and do work that is meaningful to who I am.
My efforts in building businesses, figuring out how to have a real life, travel, make time for selfcare, facebeats and my mother’s obsession with Whatsapp video calls has been working out in interesting ways for me. I say interesting because I think it might be safe to say you are doing something right when the President of South Africa calls to honour who you are and what you do. Yes, I’ve got the pictures to prove this happend to me when President Cyril Ramaphosa, bestowed me with the “Nelson Mandela Ubuntu Award for Youth Diplomacy” in 2018.
My journey into business started off as a way of wanting to make a tangible difference in other people’s lives. After raising half-a-million rand, burning through the cash and my co-founder resigning, I was tired. I had to stop, realign and resolve why things weren’t working. I came back stronger, rebuilt the business with a more considered strategy and plan that actually makes us a profit. I am blessed to do meaningful work through the Rethaka Group that aligns with our vision to “Resource Africa's Future”. Everyday I wake up excited by the challenge and opportunity to build an empire with operations in textile manufacturing, waste management, tech, fashion and lifestyle industries. Early on in my career, I gained practical insights as to how education will play a key role in ensuring that Africa is no longer left behind and I felt challenged to do something. The answer came through the work that we do at the Rethaka Foundation in making access to quality education a reality. I’m incredibly proud of the impact we’ve had in giving hope to children in under-resourced communities through the distribution of our innovation, “Repurpose Schoolbags”.
Being in alignment with my life’s purpose, traveling the world for business and pleasure, while meeting people from all walks of life has been the driving force behind my reason to be more and do more. I’ve had some unexpected conversations that I will treasure forever…I had a conversation in Monaco with a burlesque dancer who had injured herself and through this I learned “how to listen to what my soul yearns for”. While in Chile I couldn’t believe that a 2 time X-Games medalist bmx rider also shared an intense love for sermons delivered by my favourite pastor, Bishop TD Jakes. It’s the different experiences over time that have really left me feeling fulfilled and truly successful.
Acknowledgement of my efforts by the world has made the experience that much more meaningful. Some of my accolades include being named as a FORBES Africa 30under30 Honoree, “Innovator of the Year” by Forbes Women Africa, the ELLE Magazine Impact Award laureate across 6 continents. In 2016 I became the youngest business woman at age 23, to appear on the cover of FORBES Women Africa. And yes, that’s Bonang on the cover as well. (North West stand up!)
As an International speaker, I’ve been intentional about adding my voice to platforms that shape discussions and ask critical questions about the role of women, entrepreneurship and innovation in accelerating Africa’s development. I believe it is no longer sufficient for us to be taught how to fish (skilled workers), we need to learn how to own the pond (become shareholders). To date, I’m blessed to have been given platforms to speak in 15 countries around the world. Over the years, I’ve come to learn that it doesn’t matter where in the world I am, my work is to leave people feeling like their lives will be different because of their encounter with me.
This brings me to you.
The truth is, this is a platform I wish existed when I was starting out and tried to find accessible mentors that would help me find my way. All I came across was personal websites of people I looked up to who shared the end result of their hardwork but never really opened up about the process of how they are navigating life. Not just the business or career, but life in all it’s glory.
I’m saying all of this, to say this: I could waste your time (and mine) and build yet another “public figure website” which reads like a CV and is done as a PR stunt to get me speaking gigs and gives you absolutely nothing.
I don’t judge anyone who does the above, I believe there’s a place for everything. But what I realised is that, doing life can sometimes make you forget the parts of you that literally give you life. This struggle for me has been about being able to express myself as a creative, publicly. I’ve had to fight the world and myself to not be boxed into this stiff business woman ideal we are taught to admire and aspire to. It’s simply not REAL. And trust me, its a bore.
At the heart of who I am, is an insanely talented creative soul. I’ve been a painter for 11 years and would love to put together an exhibition in Paris someday soon. I’ve found healing through my writing and I never knew this was a real thing but it is. When it comes to photography, art direction and anything that needs an eye, your girl has an eye for days.
Basically, ask about me!
Jokes aside, I’ve also got a powerful calling to preach the word of God. If my instagram profile hasn’t given me away yet, know this… I stan God and when given the platform your girl can can preach a FIRE sermon. I’ll be sharing the “downloads” God gives me on this platform and my prayer is that this will help you build your own intimate relationship with Him.
Life With Thato is an invitation from me to other women (and men, the ones who like things), who are ambitious and invested in defining success holistically. Its taken me a long time to understand how exactly I’d serve you through this site and my prayer is that it will be the answer to your prayers, questions and curiosities. It’s about us journeying together inside ourselves to do some soul work, rolling up your sleeves to build your business or career, while finding the balance to enjoy life’s pleasures along the way. Expect to gain a better perspective on things you might be struggling with, expand your understanding of self and I’ll also remind you to relax when you are simply doing too much!
A WHOLE LIFE.
Here’s to doing life with me.