Women-led business empowers community by James Motlhaping

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Female representation in business

In South Africa and other parts of the world, women continue to bear the brunt of poverty and unemployment. They’re less likely to own a business, less likely to be employed, less likely to be promoted, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on International Women’s Day earlier this year.

Ramaphosa said while the representation of women in the public service has increased dramatically over the last 25 years, there hasn’t been similar progress in the business environment.

In commemoration of women’s month, Stokvel Talk speaks to Nthabi Manchidi, who runs a family business Thembi & Ladies (T&L) funeral parlour which was started by her mother.

For Manchidi, the parlour’s history and its important task of employing black women have a positive impact on the community. The funeral parlour and insurance scheme offer affordable funeral packages for communities in townships around Soweto and the Vaal in Gauteng. 

The Essence of T&L’s business

T&L was established in 1996 by Thembi Thangelane, who is still the CEO. After qualifying to be a nurse in the 1970s, she developed an entrepreneurial flair and started sourcing and selling various items to her colleagues. After that, she went to the sales industry and was the top salesperson in insurance.
When she realised many families were struggling to bury their loved ones because of the high costs of funerals, she decided to start her funeral scheme that targets needy families. She designed packages and plans from just R50- R70 per month for families, specifically catering to black women.
“When my mother started the business she always said as black women we need to create our legacy and uplift our communities,” Manchidi says.

Keeping with Thangelane’s vision of a woman-led business, 80% of T&L staff complement are black women.

“It’s important to employ black females as they have been excluded from the economy for years and are the most oppressed. We wanted to make a statement to the industry that women are capable and can succeed, even in male-dominated industries such as the Funeral Services,” she tells Stolkveltalk.

Providing employment to women in the township

Manchidi advises women that they must not let a male-dominated industry deter them. 

“Women are the best to uplift communities, we are the pillars of the households and if more of us are leaders of businesses we can take care more people, as this is in our DNA.”

As a small business within the township economy, T&L believes in sustainable empowerment and takes pride in making sure they employ people from the communities they work in.  

Manchidi says this is even more critical now during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Providing employment is critical as people can put food on the table. We allow our employees and clients to refer to some of their family and friends that need a job. ”

Burying our loved ones during COVID19