By Charndré Emma Kippie
Over the past few years, our nation’s economy has witnessed a remarkable influx of entrepreneurial contributions, with local self-starters opting to build big brands and businesses up from scratch. We’re zooming in on an innovative and diversified female business mogul who is making waves across the South African landscape.
TOP WOMAN PIONEER OF KHULA LULA
Milisa was born in the Eastern Cape town of Willowvale. Her family then moved to Cape Town and later settled in Secunda, Mpumalanga. She later pursued a BCom Accounting degree at the University of Johannesburg, exposing her to the full scope of career options that were attainable outside of the limitations she was exposed to growing up in the mining industrial town of Secunda. She also then opted to complete her Honours in Investment Management–– a pivotal move in setting her career in motion. Mabinza gained her working experience in the private sector, thereafter. In her pursuit to become an Investment Specialist, Milisa is currently working towards obtaining a CTA qualification through UNISA.
Milisa Mabinza is the epitome of what it means to be a strong black South African business woman in 2020. Having made quite the name for herself this last year, Milisa has now established one of South Africa’s first solely black-woman-owned private equity fund for black women tech start-ups, creating vital access to micro-financing and scale for African tech start-ups. At present, Khula Lula’s biggest investment has been Native Nylon – an inclusive fashion e-commerce brand, bridging the gap between affordability and luxury for South African women – which launched in November 2020.
HAVING A GREAT BUSINESS ACUMEN IS ESSENTIAL FOR SUCCESS. WHAT INSPIRES YOUR WORK ETHIC?
My work ethic is rooted in my desire to build a generational legacy. My vision has always been long-term in nature, and Khula Lula is not just my dream, but it is the dream of my father, my grandmothers and the forefathers that came before them. I have come to learn that in order to break out of repressive cycles, it is important to build on the efforts of those who tried to disrupt them even before you came along. This is what truly inspires my work ethic. I am fixated on building an enduring legacy!
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED ON YOUR JOURNEY AS A STRONG BUSINESS WOMAN SO FAR?
The greatest lesson I have learnt so far is that the most powerful visionaries and pioneers take risks, and they back ideas before they are widely acceptable. And when you want to be a catalyst for change and empowerment in any capacity, you must be prepared to deal with the resistance to change. You should always let the barriers to progress fuel the fire in you. Also, I’ve learned that we cannot build on a system of extraction. The only way to revolutionise the private equity landscape is by tearing down the systems that displace the larger proportion of the population and build ones that serve the collective.
HAVE YOU READ ANY IMPACTFUL NOVELS THAT HAVE INSPIRED YOUR CAREER?
I have read so many, but my top two are undoubtedly ‘New Power’ by Timms & Heimans and ‘Valuations’ by Aswath Damodaran. These books have really opened my mind to think past a rules-based approach in finance, and to find and discover that there is room for innovation and change, even in the most rigid fields.
WHAT MOTIVATES YOU ON A DAILY BASIS?
My life mantra has always been “No guts, No glory.” This is something I have said to myself repeatedly ever since I was in high school, and it’s always driven me to push myself outside of my comfort zone. I have conquered everything in my path because I was bold enough to fight for it. Anything rewarding will always be entangled with risk, and you must put yourself out there to win. There’s just no other way!
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR OTHER ASPIRING ENTREPRENEURS?
Stop trying to network upwards and start networking across. Collaboration has been such a game changer in building my business. I cannot stress this enough: when you find your tribe amongst your peers, and collaborate in spaces filled with like-minded people, you will feel so empowered! We need to have the spirit of empowering each other and realise that there is room for all us to flourish when we share our insights and combine our resources.