Lazy, uninspired and apathetic are terms that have become synonymous with describing young South Africans today.

TYI’s Top 100 female leaders have refused to accept these unfair labels and have instead aimed to conquer and succeed. They expect the same level of passion from their peers…

We’ve decided to share some inspiration based on a few of TYI’s Top 100 phenomenal female leaders who are no strangers to struggle and hard work:

1. Katherine-Mary Pichulik

Katherine-Mary Pichulik is just proof of that. She worked as a patissier in Europe and backpacked her way through India before she found her greatest inspiration to take back home in Africa. In 2012, Pichulik started making statement necklaces from pieces of rope and selling them off her neck to people who liked them. Now Pichulik is a four-year-old accessory brand that was chosen as one of the Top 10 brands by Vogue Italia’s Scouting for Africa project.

Inspiration: So stop doubting yourself and believe in your great idea! 

2. Nonkululeko (Nkuli) Mlangeni

A passionate designer and a proud fashion rebel who adopts rich traditional craft methods, Nonkululeko (Nkuli) Mlangeni has been a great inspiration to upcoming designers. She has a fashion-focused platform called The Ninevites.

Inspiration:Dare to be different, you owe it to yourself to do so!

i was really getting into it..🤔🤔… #collage #funstuff #makingthings

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3. Kim Whitaker

Kim Whitaker was blown away by travelling after university that she decided to make a living from it. At 23, she had to lie about her age to be taken seriously and dig into her own pocket to buy her first backpackers’ hostel called 33 South. She later encouraged a management buyout by the staff, who all owned shares. Her most recent baby is Once in Cape Town, an “all-star hostel”, based on an idea that’s taking off globally to offer the best of a hotel and backpackers experience.

Inspiration: Push boundaries and don’t stop till you get what you want!

4. Nwabisa Mayema

When Nwabisa Mayema was in matric she participated in the Model United Nations competition in New York. The trip was life-changing as it got her thinking about the role that corporates can play in developing South African youth. She met her future business partner in New York City and eight years later she and Abdulla Verachia started The Collective Genius.

Inspiration: Be the change you want to see!

5. Refiloe Lepere

“As part of isiZulu greetings, we say ‘Sanibona’ (‘We see you’). We also say ‘Sikhona’ (‘We are here’). We’re all connected by a need to be seen, to be listened to and acknowledged.

This insight into humanity has enabled 31-year-old Refiloe Lepere to succeed in her various pursuits. As a playwright and director, she brings out the best in her cast by writing their personal stories into her productions. Lepere describes her production style as “democratic” and calls her work “docu-theatre”.

Inspiration: Your narrative is important