It’s the 27th of April, the 20th anniversary of freedom in South Africa. To commemorate this milestone, I thought I would write about what freedom day means to me as someone working towards becoming a successful entrepreneur. I recently decided to become a third generation entrepreneur (13months in the running), following in the footsteps of my parents and grandparents.
I come from a family of entrepreneurs. My grandfather, my dad’s father owned buses, a farm and butcheries which he started operating in the early 1940’s and ran till he passed in the 1970’s. My grandfather was part of the group that was forcibly removed from residence in Sydenham suburb in Durban to Lamontville township and his butchery which was located in Victoria street Durban, was forced to shut-down and he relocated to Clermont township. As a true entrepreneur – he adapted and was able to continue to run his businesses in the new locations he was moved to.
My grandmother, my mom’s mom, was also a business woman. Located in the rural area of Amawotana, just outside Durban, she farmed sugarcane, bananas, pineapples and mangoes which she sold to the public. She also sold coal and wood for making fire. When the new agricultural laws came into play in the 1950’s, and they were so restrictive for black farmers that she had to stop farming sugarcane and the other fruits, she just continued to sell within the community.
My parents followed in their parents footsteps. My father ran my grandfather’s butchery together with my mom, and then they went on to open their own butchery and supermarket in Clermont township. My dad passed on in 1994 and my mom continued running the businesses on her own.
Entrepreneurship is not easy and this past year has been one of the most difficult in my life. I can only imagine how much more difficult it was for my grandfather and parents. Their businesses survived the restrictive apartheid laws and the devastating township violence pre and post freedom day. My grandmother and mother had to run a household and raise their children at the same time as being business women. These challenges never deterred them. They persevered, were focused and they succeeded. This is largely due to the hard work ethic they had and of course the loyalty and support of the customers and communities they were in.
Writing this has reminded me that having a vision; working hard, persevering, focusing, meeting your community and customer’s needs and being flexible and adaptable to change are important ingredients for success for any business owners. Reflecting back on this part of my family’s history reinforces the significance of this day, Freedom Day. It is a gift which so many people sacrificed their lives for and should not be taken for granted. I’m inspired to make my business journey a successful one, by taking lead from those who have done so before me. What about you?