Women’s Day

The 9th of August commemorates the march of approximately 20 000 women in 1956 to the Union Buildings in Pretoria, petitioning against the country’s unjust pass laws. Some 64 years later. This high-valued month has evolved, recognising the ongoing achievements of all woman, locally and internationally.

Each year this effort is amplified, creating awareness around women’s issues, empowerment and campaigns that forge a new path for future just generations. It gives us the opportunity to showcase the tireless work being done by women in our communities and leaves us inspired by those making tremendous strides in every industry.

Within the tourism sector, Ugu South Coast Tourism (USCT) is privileged to count some of the most influential women among our members. One of the hardest tasks was selecting only 10 to feature, but these exceptional women are representative of the many dedicated, skilled individuals who are positioning this region as a key tourism sector.

These past few months have been incredibly challenging for businesses, to say the least, with tourism being one of the hardest hit. However, we have witnessed endless examples of such women constantly overcoming adversity, while also continuously supporting our communities in need.

Through our various media platforms and online engagements and while observing social distancing and other COVID-19 protocols, USCT will continue to shine a light on these courageous women, and hopefully inspire the next generation of women in tourism.

CEO of Ugu South Coast Tourism, Phelisa Mangcu

To discover more phenomenal women-owned and run businesses on the KZN South Coast, download the free ‘Explore KZN South Coast’ app from Google Play and Apple stores. Visit www.visitkznsouthcoast.co.za or follow ‘South Coast Tourism’ on Facebook, @infosouthcoast on Twitter and Instagram, and check out USCT on YouTube at www.youtube.com/user/SouthCoastTourism.

Mandy Dutton: Palm Beach Chalets

Before establishing the Port Edward-based self-catering accommodation, Mandy travelled the continent, training up individuals from a range of countries and cultures. 12 years ago, she used her experience to start the successful Palm Beach Chalets. Mandy’s role includes everything, from managing chalets and guest requirements, to attending conferences and organising fundraising for the nearby Mpenjati Nature Reserve. She lives by the motto, ‘Live life – love life – be life’ and her advice to young women seeking a career in hospitality: “Do your research thoroughly. Make sure you have a passion for the industry and are comfortable communicating and interacting with guests.”

Claudette Baker (Ceejay): Lavenderhill B&B

From nurse to B&B owner, Ceejay continues to share passion for serving people in her latest venture. In 2016, following a decade of retirement, Ceejay opened Lavenderhill B&B in the small farming town of Harding. As a hands-on owner, she is involved in all operations, from greeting guests through to preparing the meals. Her strict work ethic and appreciation for the hospitality sector have seen her business continue to flourish. Sharing her insights with other women, Ceejay said: “It’s important to have passion and vision to accomplish your dreams – don’t let society’s expectations stop you.”

Sharon Moodley: Gorgez View Bed & Breakfast

Pivoting from the construction to the hospitality sector eight years ago, Sharon has found her niche as general manager of this tranquil accommodation, overlooking the Oribi Gorge Krans and Paddock Plains. Charged with administrative, accounting and advertising responsibilities, Sharon always finds time to engage with the guests, ensuring those seeking quality, affordable accommodation have a place to stay. Tasked with giving advice to women seeking a career in hospitality, Sharon said: “It’s exciting work, but it’s also hard work. It’s about both giving and taking, and it’s important to always be appreciative.”

Leka Reddy: B Cubed Guest House

Within the idyllic seaside town of Southport is this welcoming guesthouse, and for the past 14 years, Leka has worked tirelessly upfront and behind the scenes. She co-ordinates functions and events at the venue, as well as finding time in the kitchen to create delightful dishes for her guests. Surrounded by natural beauty, Leka also cares for the environment through her work with the Bendigo Nature Conservation Group. Her advice for others: “Surround yourself with like-minded people who share your drive and passion. Reach for the skies!”

Phumzile Mbambo: Stages Restaurant and Lounge

There’s always a new adventure awaiting Phumzile, co-owner of Port Shepstone’s Stages Restaurant and Lounge, which has been serving clientele for the past eight years. Her spiritual nature coupled with an entrepreneurial prowess has seen her create a space to connect and unwind. As well as being one of the directors of Caltex Umtentweni Service Station, she’s director of newly-formed Uzuri Training Solutions, focused on organisational development and leadership training. Sharing her wisdom with upcoming businesswomen, Phumzile said: “Believing in oneself is important. If a vision-carrier doubts themselves and their capabilities, it will be difficult for them to see that vision to fruition. Prayer and hard work are also vital elements of success.”

Zinhle Shezi: Skhebeza

With small start-up capital and a big dream, Zinhle started an events’ organising company in 2009, catering for municipal and community events in Mthwalumi. As demand grew, Zinhle was able to acquire items for hire, expanding the business to co-ordinate large and varied local functions. In addition to event planning and co-ordination, Zinhle volunteers on the board of the Ntelezi Msani Heritage Foundation, assisting in promoting and preserving cultural heritage. Looking to the incoming generation of career women, Zinhle said: “The main goal in business is pursuing a personal development plan and to become happier. Walk tall – don’t allow any challenges or circumstances to pull you down.”

Nomkhosi Zulu: Strawberry Beach House and The Country Lodge

A love of hosting and accommodating people attracted Nomkhosi to the hospitality sector, having worked in business for the past 15 years. Five years ago, she gravitated towards tourism, and while the hours are long when managing the Margate lodge, she lives her passion every day. She also supports the local community, sponsoring tuition for pupils at a traditional dancing school. Her advice to those seeking a career in tourism: “Business is not always stable; but if you are focused; you will get better with time. I’ve learned that business will always have its peaks and valleys. Now, I embrace the slower months, using them to recharge and focus on generating new ideas.”

Deanne Purtell: Realty 1 Southbroom

What started as a holiday job in high school has become an established career for Deanne. For the past six years, she has worked full-time at the family-run estate agency, catering to the property needs of holidaymakers, residents and those seeking a home on the KZN South Coast. For Deanne, no two work days are alike, and she thrives on the chance to interact with people from across the globe. Asked what she would say to young women seeking a profession in real estate, Deanne replied: “As the Nike slogan states, ‘Just do it!’. If you enjoy working with people, this is the industry for you!”

Phumzile ‘Nelly’ Zama and Nolwazi ‘Zi’ Zama: polka.dot.coco

Self-taught and self-funded, Nelly and Zi – through sheer determination – turned a creative passion into a flourishing business that has garnered nationwide attention. Based in Amandawe, polka.dot.coco sells high-quality, handcrafted accessories using primarily locally-sourced materials. The company caters to a variety of markets countrywide, with part of its outreach aimed at providing matriculants, from disadvantaged backgrounds, with accessories. Nelly’s advice to young entrepreneurs is: “What are you waiting for? Start now, with what you have. You have a gift in your hands, use it. We need more businesswomen, so put on your crown and let’s go!”

Pauline Lee: The Waffle House

Starting with a bakery and catering business at age 19, Pauline’s entrepreneurial spirit, passion for skills’ development and knowledge of quality food saw her get involved with Ramsgate’s iconic Waffle House. While maintaining an exceptional level of quality, Pauline and her team are also committed to local conservancy, as well as contributing to a social feeding programme. Sharing her valuable insights with other women, Pauline said: “You have to have the passion and understanding that it’s all about people! If you want to be in any business, you need to be a role model for how to treat your customers – and this starts with how you treat your team.  Then lead from behind, and let them shine!”