Top tips from our fearless female mentors

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Mentor Talk

Because it’s Women’s Month, we are being extra generous for this issue’s Mentor Talk. We asked two of Fetola’s fearless female mentors Eugenie Drakes and Sezanele Zondi to share their tips and insight.

“Over the years I have had ups and downs, successes and failures, but most of all I have had fun and learned a great deal. In life, there are always those that have more than you and those that have less than you. Those that are more successful than you and those that are less successful than you and this is a given.

“Don’t focus on these – keep your focus on being the very best of you and take your gifts into the world. It is not a destination – it is a journey and I feel very blessed for the journey I have been on for the past 18 years.,” Eugenie shared.

Eugenie’s Top Tips:

  1. Work at something you’re passionate about.
  2. Be very clear on what it is that YOU offer.
  3. Be clear on what sets you apart from others who do something similar to you.
  4. Know who your customer is so you can build a relationship with them, understand them, and offer a solution to their specific needs.
  5. Have a plan to build and grow your business.
  6. Fall in love with finances. Numbers give you direction and guidance and form an integral part of your business.
  7. Be realistic of what you are capable of and what you are able to achieve.
  8. Be authentic, open and honest.
  9. Don’t over promise and under-deliver.
  10. Have a mentor to support and help you and your business grow.

“Remember that Rome was not built in a day so be patient and enjoy the journey and be realistic with your expectations. After 18 years I am still learning, still enjoying and I have made some small and some big changes along the way.

“Have I reached my destination? No. Am I enjoying the journey? Yes! Focus on the journey, work with authenticity and integrity, keep your standards and delivery high, and you will have a great ride!” Eugenie concludes

Sezanele says, “I work in a male dominated industry and sometimes as a woman, you can be intimidated, feel vulnerable, deprived and stressed. I have learned to develop a thick skin, master my own game, and remain true to my strong principles.”

Sezanele’s Top Tips:

  1. Master your game, be someone who is known for bringing solutions, not problems and excel in everything you do.
  2. Work hard on building a good name for yourself by developing good principles, both in business and on a personal level.
  3. Never stop self-development – there is always a way to learn.
  4. Build a strong network to get access to information and trends.
  5. Take advantage of all the opportunities that our government is making available for empowering women.
  6. If you are in a situation where the argument gets heated, don’t be emotional in front of everyone. Go to the bathroom, have a cry, put your lipstick on, and get back
  7. Do something you love because then money will never matter. Remember, we are sisters keepers.

In the Zondi household, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree and Sezanele’s instilling the same values in her daughter.

“My daughter has inherited my entrepreneurial skills. She owns an ice manufacturing business and I am mentoring her. I will also help her grow her business and become one of the top suppliers in the province,” Sezanele says proudly.

Eugenie Drakes and Sezanele Zondi are Fetola mentors who provide expert mentor advice to the SAB Foundation Tholoana participants. If you want your chance to transform your small business, learn valuable skills, and gain expert mentorship, apply to the SAB Foundation Tholoana Programme today.

Women, youth and entrepreneurs with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply.

About the Authors:

Eugenie DrakesEugenie Drakes:

Eugenie has worked in the creative industries for over 35 years and had her own social enterprise focusing on the handcraft sector for 17 years. She’s learned many valuable lessons the very hard way and she willingly shares her learnings with others on a similar journey.

Sezanele ZondiSezanele Zondi:

Sezanele has 16 years’ experience in enterprise development obtained from her previous and current employment at Land Bank, ABSA and Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency (MEGA). She also has experience in conducting due diligence, business plan analysis, stakeholder relations and management, market linkages, financial analysis, and business aftercare and support.