This is a story about a young black woman from the a small town in the Northern Cape, Kuruman who fought tirelessly to build a name for herself. Mmathebe Zvobwo graduated with a Cum Laude for her Master of Management in Entrepreneurship and New Venture Creation from Wits Business School despite having a 9 to 5 job as an Executive in Enterprise and Supplier Development.
Mmathebe has always shown characteristics of a volcano waiting to erupt with success from a very young age. Mmathebe graduated at the top her class in both primary school and high school. In her matric year, she was the highest academic performing student (dux scholar) and won the public speaking trophy at Potchefstroom Girls High. She was also in the top 15 matric students in the North West Province.
Mmathebe went on to study for a Financial Accounting Degree at the University of Cape Town and completed her articles at Old Mutual who was her bursary sponsor. She is a qualified Chartered Accountant who is truly unconventional and is passionate about entrepreneurship. While completing her articles at Old Mutual, Mmathebe was exposed to corporate finance and investment. However, her passion was in entrepreneurship development and start-up finance. After completing her articles, Mmathebe joined the Masisizane Fund team at Old Mutual and worked her way from Post Investment Associate to Manufacturing and Supply Chain Investment Head.
As a child, Mmathebe remembers helping her mother run a multiple of small businesses from an aerobic fitness center, to a vegetable business and to a photo business. This is where the passion for entrepreneurship was infused. “I have always been fascinated by the work it takes for an entrepreneur to start a business by spotting an opportunity and ultimately growing that business to a multi-million rand business,” said Mmathebe.
After investing in many small businesses, I started a consulting and impact investment fund, Amai Capital. “I quickly realised that South Africa lacked data and research in enterprise development while I was consulting for one of my clients, a jewelry design training academy,” recalls Mmathebe. It is then that she made the decision to enroll for the Masters of Management in Entrepreneurship and New Venture Creation degree at Wits Business School.
The program was challenging and fast paced and it came down to strategy and methodology to grasp all the concepts. Mmathebe was recognised on the Dean’s list as part of the 10% highest performing students. What is more fascinating is that her research titled “Faciliating High Growth Enterprises through seed investing in South Africa” received a distinction. Mmathebe sees this research as a milestone in building data and research in South Africa in the enterprise development field.
Having been an Enterprise and Supplier Development Executive at two of South Africa’s industry leading companies (in their respective industries), Mmathebe has implemented findings from entrepreneurship research into the programmes under her leadership.
Currently, she leads a team of passionate and highly-skilled professionals to invest in innovative technology start-ups. Understanding entrepreneurship theory and research and incorprating it into her programmes has amplified the company’s ecosystem of innovation.
Mmathebe’s message to young girls is to never limit yourself. “God created you with your dreams embedded in the core of your being – you can never be too small to live out the essence of who you are,” says Mmathebe.
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