By Thandiwe Kubere

MASERU – Paving a way for Finite Women Appreciation Awards and hyping up the actual event, BAM Group foundation on Friday, held a business seminar, where women from different entrepreneurship fields uplifted and encouraged one another by sharing their experiences, ways to succeed, challenges encountered along the way as well as how they soldiered on and how it eventually paid off.   

The road to success is no doubt not an easy one. It needs drive to put in the required effort, hard work, resilience and a great circle of reliable people who add value to one’s business.  It has also been discovered that great power lies in women coming together to share their knowledge. It further helps others realize, “Oh, it is not just me” – a revelation that can change a person’s perception of their business or career for the better.

With a similar vision, Basotho women with purpose, class and caliber assembled in, exquisitely dressed in their modern Seshoeshoe attire, at Manthabiseng Convention Center where the seminar was held.   Giving her remarks, the Chief Executive Officer of BAM Group, ‘Mamashiya Nts’epeng Ts’ita Tikiso, highlighted that it was important for women to come together and network as great power comes from that.  “I stand here feeling emotional because I see beautiful women who want to take this country to the next level, beautiful women who are hungry for success.” 

The intention of the seminar was to applaud and appreciate women who do impactful deeds in the country. “This was to give them a pat on the shoulder and to say keep doing well- we recognize you. Over the past 11 years of the awards, we have received boundless support and witnessed great success. So this year, we decided that it should not be a single day event, but rather have a session of interaction and discussion on how to rightfully conduct businesses, from those who have successfully walked this journey”, she said.  Another purpose for the seminar was to serve as a learning curve for those who have stumbled along the way, so that they could figure out ways of bouncing back and learn properly ways of handling their businesses, as well as to educate and encourage those who have been delayed by fear.

In terms of knowledge sharing and interactive discussions, the guest speakers were, a multi-business owner of Prestige Furniture and founder of Sentebale Gap Funeral Services Aliciah Mots’oane, the Chief Executive Officer and founder of Rhythm and Blue Cuisines and Catering and founder of Mahlakapesi Holdings Mats’eliso Mokuoane, as well as formidable business woman, Gospel record label owner and award winner Ayanda Ncwane from South Africa.  

Amongst her advices, Mots’oane declared it was very important for one to start a business at a young age because this will provide a lot of windows for opportunities and gives enough time for learning, in order to gain great achievements as well discovering oneself. She declared this would help in working towards what they are more passionate about. She highlighted that her interest for business started at an early stage of her life. She used an example that during her school days, she would buy stock in order to sell to her peers whenever she was given money for delicacies. “At that time, I did not know what I was going to use that money for, but I had great passion for business”, she said.

Moreover, she declared she was not able to further her studies but that did not stand in her way of pursuing her strong business passion. This is because she put her dedication, time and extra effort in making sure that regardless of obstacles she faced, she moved the dirt off and kept on. From her story, it was learned that not only literate people are guaranteed success in life. She further enlightened that she would save most of the money she got while she was still an employee, additionally educating on the importance of respecting money by saving it and using it wisely. She therefore encouraged women to learn a lot and take their jobs seriously even when still employees because they would use the same skills, lessons and discipline for their own businesses.

She expressed that she stumbled a lot in her journey including her store burning down and being exploited by people she trusted, but that did not keep her down because she knew what she wanted in life and would use every opportunity she got to come back even stronger. 

Adding the importance of starting early and supporting passion with hard work, Mokuoane expressed that she loved cooking from a very tender age which contributed a lot in her successful journey. She would cook at gatherings and village events to a point she realized she could actually monetize her talent of cooking. She highlighted that she started with offering hospitality services with a group of friends in a shack in Lekokoaneng, where people from church would come eat and bath. She declared the eating area was separated from the bathing one by just a curtain. Giving how wise it is to identify opportunities even in the most humble areas of life, where most people would not think of. She therefore encouraged people to not be ashamed of having humble beginnings as a starting point.  She also declared that people should go to where they get good services and not the other way round. This is because she learned some people complain of their businesses not growing because they cannot find good market places.

She added that back then, she knew a woman who was in the similar career path as she was, that of catering, who was doing very well and was well acquainted with prominent people. She therefore saw the need to make her a role model and saw how good it would be to associate with her in order to learn how that lady made it thus far.   In that she urged women to network and connect with people who are on the same road as them but have more experience than them and are doing well as that would help them learn ways of doing better. She encouraged women to work very hard without having much expectations and to show face wherever they can. She encouraged them to not put money at the forefront of their businesses because that way, they will lose focus and not give their maximum effort since expectations tend to stand in the way of giving good performance. Instead they should strive for growth in every way they can, even if it means working for free during the beginning stages to get the recognition they need.

Further sharing their journeys, Ayanda emphasized she met a lot of obstacles during her business journey from which she acquired a lot of lessons. One of them was that there were situation which require a person to humble themselves and ask for help, referencing to the Bible where it states ‘ask and it shall be given unto you’. Enlightening on the importance of having a strong support system and a great circle of reliable people, she emphasized that sometimes life comes with challenges and hardships that force a person to go back to those around them. “When you call, are they going to answer during the time of crisis, what type of people surround you- your sisterhood? There is a family you create in your journey of life and those are the people who hold your hand and are with you during times of crisis. Those who do not go behind you to laugh and advertise your problems”, she said.

 She also pointed out she learnt that life has many potholes which slow down a person when they are trying to rush in life. “There is something which keeps on saying calm down, there is a bump before you, speed kills so take your time”, she said.

Giving her closing remarks, Tikiso expressed her gratitude to the panel and all those who showed up, commending their drive for success and bettering their country. “This is the gesture we are giving to say women you are powerful- you can make a change. We are very grateful you decided to take time off your schedules to listen to this inspiring words. I believe they have inspired you and made you look at things from a different perspective. You are not the person you were yesterday and therefore let us go implement as it has been said. These women are very powerful but they have opened their hearts to say, ‘let us go make change in this country’ and we are so grateful for that.” beamed Tikiso.