Thabitha Malinga is a young entrepreneur from Tembisa Township in Johannesburg who has hit on a novel idea for a business. Through her mobile spa, Thabie Mobile Spa, she brings the luxury of beauty treatments and pamper sessions to her clients in the privacy of their own homes and offices. Thabitha was enabled in her business venture through a partnership between Shell Livewire and Raizcorp – an African business incubator – which aims to grow and develop South African entrepreneurs.
“The mobile spa is my fourth business attempt. My other businesses failed very early on as I didn’t have the knowledge or experience necessary to be a successful entrepreneur,” explains Thabitha. “The difference with Thabie Mobile Spa, however, has been the step-by-step support and constant guidance from the Shell Livewire Programme. The programme has helped me to understand my business and, most importantly, to understand what I want to achieve as an individual. I can proudly report that my business is now profitable and growing, and I’ve employed 7 people.”
Transformation is a business imperative for Shell which is seen as key to addressing the social inequality that exists in South Africa and for this reason, it sits at the heart of its business with an intent to achieve the true spirit of Transformation.
The Shell Livewire Programme focuses on training and equipping young people with the necessary entrepreneurial skills to combat high levels of youth unemployment in South Africa. This initiative supports historically disadvantaged youth between the ages of 18 and 35, who have the business drive and a resilient character.
The programme started with an entrants’ panel of 60 young entrepreneurs, of whom only two individuals reached the final stage. Thabitha is one of the 2016 Shell Livewire finalists. Over the past 12 months, the programme has equipped her with the business skills to meet her market demands, including following a customer-centric approach, and it has also continued to boost her entrepreneurial spirit.
Ntobeko Mogadime, Social Investment Manager at Shell South Africa, says, “The Shell Livewire Programme is one of Shell’s transformation initiatives aimed at powering South Africa’s progress. For Shell, the transformation is all about empowering the individual so that communities can thrive and build a prosperous nation for us all. Through equipping Thabitha with the necessary skills to help achieve her full potential, we help fuel a nation of equal opportunity. This is why individuals like Thabitha are central to Shell’s transformation vision, not only for our company but for our communities and our country.”
Thabitha agrees, “The programme is not just about me; it is also beneficial for the people in my community. Thabie Mobile Spa is now seen as an employer of choice by young, unemployed individuals in the community. In order to grow a strong team, I intend to pass on the business skills and customer experience knowledge that I gain at Livewire to my employees.”
Ntobeko Mogadime concludes, “Thabitha’s success story is one of many entrepreneurial endeavours that have been facilitated since the Shell Livewire Programme’s inception in 1995. We believe that the programme’s ongoing success will continue to contribute to the creation of a strong culture of small- and medium-sized businesses and in this way play a role in reducing youth unemployment in South Africa.”
Shell’s progressive social investment initiatives have been instrumental in the company achieving its level 1 BBBEE contributor score but more importantly demonstrates a true commitment to powering the progress of South Africans through investment in education, enterprise development and by creating opportunities for previously disadvantaged individuals throughout the company’s value chain.