South African female entrepreneur and chartered accountant Millycent Mashele is empowering women in townships and rural areas.
Mashele who founded The Legacy Centre, a management consulting firm, said that the field of Accounting chose her. According to her, when she was applying to university accounting was her third choice but it was the only course that she was accepted for.
Mashele has previous work experience working for The Auditor General of South Africa, Gauteng Department of Finance, Sekela Xabiso and MTN where she occupied various roles.
According to Mashele it is important to empower women in South Africa and she has been working to empower women in her community. Mashele runs a program called Wansati Projects which means woman in xiTsonga.
The program is uniquely designed to empower women in townships and rural areas starting their businesses.The program provides them with mentorship and support that will enable them to build confidence as business women.
Mashele also mentors young professional women who aspire to start their own accounting firms and provides them with the skills and resources to establish their firms. “It is a business model I am using to grow our firm while we develop others”.
Mashele said that she is inspired by women like her mother. Mashele’s mother who raised 9 children was once a street vendor to ensure that her children could go to school. I look at women like my mother, who their story inspires me. They did not have the privilege of education, but they still wake up and choose to be business women.
The entrepreneurs said that her goals include building her firm to becoming one of the biggest firms in South Africa, and the continent. She also wants to establish a business school that will focus on leadership, governance and practical business skills.
Through her firm she also wants to run an incubation program for business start-ups, ensuring that business is anchored at the foundational level. She also wants to coach and be an advisor for executives, working with government officials and political leaders.
According to Mashele, we still live in a patriarchal society where women are still treated less in business than men. Mashele said,” Women have their unique challenges, thus it is important for them to be empowered and encouraged to remain in business”.
Mashele who now runs her own consulting firm said that she was unfulfilled in corporate and she knew that she had to do something different. According to the entrepreneur it was not easy because corporate is well rewarding financially for professionals at my level but she was prepared to start small and build her company from nothing.
She started by doing tax returns, helping people open their companies, doing bookkeeping for companies while business defining and clarifying the firm business model. Her firm has evolved over the last three years, that now they pride themselves with having well established relationships.
Mashele said, “Unfortunately in our country there is not much support for start-ups, all we have is discipline, resilience, passion and hard work. Also in starting my business, I knew I did not have much business skills, so I got myself a business coach who has been my accountability partner and pillar of strength when the going gets tough”.
She said that her proudest moment as a chartered accountant is when she meets young people who have never met a chartered accountant before.
“Seeing them being inspired to even work hard on their dream of becoming a chartered accountant is such of a humbling moment for me. It just reminds me that I did not do it for me alone, but it is a village dream” concluded Mashele
Profile adapted from Business Report Online