Zanele Diniso

From Call Centre Agent To Business Woman

Her name is Zanele Diniso from Port Elizabeth in a township called New Brighton. She is a mentor, public speaker, co-founder of a Non Profit Organisation and a businesswoman. Zanele is the youngest daughter of the late Mr and Mrs Diniso and as the youngest she doesn’t shy away from the fact she was the spoilt one in the family. Spoilt as she was, she still had to do chores at home. Zanele enjoyed the time she spent with her father whilst growing up. Her parents loved her so much and wanted the best for her, which alone put so much pressure on her to be the best. Well, unfortunately academically she was never an ‘A’ student but always tried to do her best.

Her parents were and still are her heroes. Her father was a bus driver and her mother worked as a domestic worker. It did not matter for her what her parents were doing at the time as she was still a child. One thing she’s learnt from them is respect that is why today she respects herself and those around her.

Zanele DinisoThis may seem like a pretty picture but there were days where she would go to bed with no food. She would go to school not knowing what she’ll eat when she gets back from school. There would be days when she would cry herself to sleep and sometimes cried seeing her dad not being able to provide for his family. By then the thought of being a businesswoman never crossed her mind.

Zanele only thought she would be a businesswoman when she reached her 40’s but things did not work out like that. She remembers one day while sitting in that open plan call centre she looked around and said to herself; this is not her purpose in life, she was born for something more bigger than that. She later resigned and left Johannesburg to go back home to PE to start a business in Wedding Planning.  Unfortunately things did not work out as planned. Out of seeing how much the children in the location struggle to have a full uniform on, some had no respect for themselves nor for others and the level of drop outs was too much to bear. She started a Non Profit Organisation where she assists the less fortunate with school uniforms and mentoring. She describes that year as the best year of her life and even even forgot that she had no income. For her, seeing the future of those children with a glimpse of brightness made all the difference in her life.

When the NPO was up and running, it hit her that she had no income and because she had researched on starting a business in making placements for domestic workers, she took all those researched notes and used them to start her own business called Periwinkle Home Executives.

She started making placements for the mothers of the children in the NPO and has now grown to making placements nationwide ( That too was not easy. What has made her stand throughout all the challenges she faced in running her own business was the fact that she had started it with nothing and there was no way she’d give up just like that. She had to make sure the business becomes a success.  She read more books, researched more and did everything in her power to improve and learn from her challenges and shortcomings.

Zanele Diniso

She has been featured and interviewed by Bay TV, SABC TV, Power FM, KQ FM, Kingfisher  FM, PE Express Newspaper, The Herald Newspaper and the Daily Sun. Her achievements include being trained by the United Nations on Entrepreneurship, Top 4 of the ABSA Young Money Novice Entrepreneur, Top 40 under 40 young achievers in the Nelson Mandela Bay area and Entrepreneur of the month in August 2013 in Your Money Newspaper.

Zanele is mentored by prominent businessman, Mkhuseli Jack and guided by Mrs Nosi Ncoyo and Adv Thulisile Mhlungu. About her mentors she says :

“I am standing on shoulders of the giants to make this business a success”.

Zanele is now currently working on her other business ventures with her mentor around Gauteng.

We salute you Zanele, such an inspirational story.

By Theo

Tax Education in Schools

Tick Tax!

“Like rain, tax, after lightning the thunder cracks (It’s inevitable). Sooner or later it had to come true”Celine Dion

Yep, Celine Dion said, like rain tax is inevitable. One of the things that affects us all but few fully understand and comprehend it.

One never wants to find themselves on the wrong side of the law, right? I certainly don’t. It is very easy though to find yourself in a sticky situation if you don’t understand everything that comes with tax.

It only makes sense, just like sexual education did. I am well aware that knowing about sexually transmitted diseases, social work, our emotions and religion play a big role in who we are as people in our society.

Abdulateef Olatunji, Senior Manager-Tax at Saffron, Regional Vice Chairperson, Middle East & Africa& International Tax Practice Group at GGI shared his sentiments on the importance of citizens understanding basic tax education. He is of the opinion that not only will that knowledge be valuable to the taxpayer, it will also be valuable to the Government that imposes a variety of taxes. Specifically, it is our position that the lack of basic understanding of taxes is unwarranted, long overdue and importantly could be costing the taxpayers hundreds of millions.

What is the role of SARS?

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) is the revenue service (tax-collecting agency) of the South African government. It was established by legislation to collect revenue and ensure compliance with tax law. In accordance with the South African Revenue Service Act 34 of 1997, the service is an administratively autonomous organ of the state: it is outside the public service, but within the public administration. So although South Africa’s tax regime is set by the National Treasury, it is managed by SARS.

The role of schools

Abdulateef goes on to look at how schools could potentially make things easier for all stakeholders in helping understand the role and importance of paying taxes. Schools have traditionally served as avenues for the dissemination of knowledge and information and can be utilized meaningfully to provide formal tax education/information to the public.

Would it not be a great idea if the South African education department would create a well-structured, age-appropriate curriculum and lesson plans on taxes initiated at schools (all levels, from primary to University, from private to public schools) which will be useful? Just as students are provided basic education on international history, mathematics, business studies and accounting, basic tax education can be implemented along similar lines.

Not only will the benefits be life-long, they will certainly be a win-win for all stakeholders involved.  Students will grow with a better knowledge of taxes and the importance of tax planning, but also with a better understanding and appreciation of their constitutional obligations with regard to taxes.

If anything, they will grow in understanding the role of taxes, why governments levy and collect taxes, the services provided them by government, how to legally minimize their tax burden, and importantly, the futility of tax evasion.

Do we really lose anything by not fully understanding tax?

Okay, maybe there is no empirical research that proves that not understanding tax is devastating to one’s life. However, I think it’s safe to note that the lack of basic tax education, and the related lack of tax planning, can be attributed to millions of taxpayer citizens failing to take advantage of various credits, deductions and legal loopholes that they can fully take advantage of. As a result of the limited knowledge, these taxpayers will fail to fully research and apply legal tax loopholes to reduce their tax burden; i.e., tax loopholes that usually appear to be in the domain of a minority – the wealthy and tax-educated citizens.

But hey, I am no financial planner, neither am I a tax practitioner. If you are one, I would really like to know what you think.

Let’s chat

By Keagi Makgoba

Mabel Selepe

One of our regular features on CHICA will be putting the spotlight on women who are making headway in their chosen careers. We call them Head CHICAs in charge and to kick things off, we chat to young business mind Mabel Selepe who is an Executive Director at Protea Coin. Such a passionate, driven woman who is full of life. Here’s what she had to say to us.

Theo Tshanga: Please tell us about your childhood. What type of a child were you and what were your passions growing up?

Mabel Selepe: I was born in Soshanguve, north of Pretoria. I am the 5th of 6 children. My Dad was a detective with SAP and my brothers and my uncle were highly involved in politics. So it was always a conflict of upholding the then apartheid laws and defiance. I became aware of South African politics at a very young age and I was really passionate about equality and fairness. I was part of the Release Mandela campaign involved with the UDF, of which my uncle was a senior member. So you can say I was a defiant child. For this reason and the instability in the township my parents sent me to a rural school in Limpopo (Pietersburg) where I matriculated.

Theo: And what was your career choice after you matriculated?

Mabel:  I enrolled for Political Studies and International Relations because I wanted to become a Diplomat.

Theo: Interesting, so did things go your way?

Mabel: Not quite. My first job was as a Call Centre Agent at MTN in 1998, and I enjoyed it because cellular was new at the time and it was a very exciting time to be in the Telecommunications industry especially because MTN was such a great learning Organization driven by innovation. It was like working in Silicon Valley. I really enjoyed it.

Theo: You are now an Executive Director for a large security company. How did you go from working at MTN to that, talk us through the journey?

Mabel: After Graduation, I worked for MTN’s call center and I was promoted to Account Manager. After that I was a Project Manager for the Department of Communications (DoC) then I became a divisional MD at The Workforce Group. After selling my shares in that Company I took a break. When I realized I was going broke I was fortunate to be given an opportunity at ProteaCoin where I started off as a Business Development Manager and was eventually promoted to Training GM, where I learnt a lot about the Operations of the security industry.

I was then promoted to an Executive for Training and last year I was privileged to be sponsored by the DTI to attend the IoD Director Development Program. Thereafter I was appointed to serve on the board in my capacity of Key Accounts Management (KAM) Director. In addition to working my way up the corporate ladder, I have developed myself further through studying. I hold a BA in politics from Wits University, MAP from The University of Stellenbosch, Executive Women certificate from GIBS, EDP from WITS Business School, Project Management Certificate from UP and a certificate in Leadership from Duke University in North Carolina sponsored by The Black Management Forum.

Theo: Wow, that is impressive! There must have been obstacles along the way, what were those and how did you overcome them?

Mabel: Yes there were. I am a single Mom, so keeping the balance between family, work, studies and play has been a challenge. I surround myself with support from family, friends and mentors. Information, Patience and Focus are my secret weapon.

Theo: And working in a male dominated industry, has that been a challenge for you?

Mabel: It took a while to develop trust from the executive team, who are predominantly male. I am still learning every day to maneuver my way through the cultural differences. However, I chose to focus on the common goals that we share i.e.: The success of Bidvest Protea Coin is sacrosanct. I am also fortunate enough to have a supportive boss and mentor.

Theo: You are a board member of your company, responsible for making strategic decisions, how has that been for you?

Mabel: Complex, as you have to accommodate the interests of shareholders, employees, clients, regulatory bodies and other stakeholders – it’s a balancing act. At the same time it is exciting to be able to envision the opportunities in the horizon for our Company.

Theo: How can aspiring females enter the security industry?

Mabel: There are a lot of opportunities in the security industry, not only in private security but in safety and security, in all sectors of our economy. UNISA offers excellent courses in Security Management; you also need to register with the PSIRA.

Theo: Your career has been phenomenal so far but what would you say has been your greatest achievement?

Mabel: Since joining ProteaCoin in 2010 I have been recognised with three awards. Two for Individual Excellence and my previous Division (Training) was recognised as the most improved Division. I am also proud to have represented South Africa at Duke University to learn about Leadership and Management. Under my stewardship in 2015, Bidvest ProteaCoin Training Division was a finalist in the Investor of the Year category in the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) South African Premier Business Awards.

Theo: I am truly inspired. If you had a chance to start your career journey over again, is there anything you would do differently?

Mabel: I would have studied more Accounting as understanding financial management of any business is key, but I guess I still have the opportunity.

Theo: What would be your definition of success?

Mabel: Doing better than I did yesterday.

Theo: What is your leadership philosophy?


I really believe in the power of empowering people and they always surprise me with their ingenuity.

Theo: Earlier on you mentioned the importance of having supportive family and mentors. Who has supported you in your career journey, either through mentoring or coaching?

Mabel: My current CEO and mentor Prof Mosoma, The Black Management Forum and The Progressive Professional Forum. I also come from a generally academic & optimistic family.

Theo: And do you personally mentor anyone, if yes, what is your take on mentorship?

Mabel: I work with domestic workers in my community on developing new skills in conjunction with the City of Tshwane. Often this requires intervention in curbing of unfair labour practices, abused women and general substance abuse. Mentorship is empowering someone to think, assess and access other options where you impart your experience to make a positive impact.

Theo: In one word, characterize your life as a young female Business Executive?

Mabel: I don’t know about young but it’s stimulating (LoL).

Theo: What do you do in your spare time to relax?

Mabel: I am obsessed with reading non-fiction and biographies. I also enjoy drinking good wine or single malt whiskey with friends and family. And oooh, I pray!

Theo: What are you passionate about?

Mabel: I am passionate about raising my teen boy and developing my community. I also love, love, love my church, The Salvation Army.

Theo: Thank you Mabel for sharing so much of you with us. My last question is what’s next for you?

Mabel: To do an MBA and continue to contribute to the growth of Bidvest ProteaCoin in my current role. I am excited about the technical innovation that is currently disrupting the industry so I look forward to being a part of that business disruption.

Theo: We wish you all the best, thank you.

The End

By @zatbee


Women Have It All

Uncovering the stereotype of the workaholic career woman that struggles in love …

Modern sitcoms and drama series like the early-2000s hit “Girlfriends” and current hit “Being Mary Jane” sell us the stereotype of the thriving career woman who has all the material luxuries at hand, the life many dream of BUT still struggles in courtship and love… Successful and lonely.

Women have it all

Remember Joan from Girlfriends: a successful lawyer and an educated woman with a disastrous dating record. Joan is the quintessential professional black woman whose love life is a mess. Joan has struggled with blind dates, friends hooking her up. You name it; she’s been there and still SINGLE. She is the stereotypical, perpetually single friend with the beautiful apartment and German sedan but no man, HONEY! Begs the question, why would a beautiful, smart and sassy woman like Joan struggle to date and find love?

By contrast Mary Jane Paul of the hit series Being Mary Jane is ‘not about that settling down life’. Not Mary Jane, she will use and discard of the male companion in her life when she’s tired of him, or he has served his intended purpose. Use and discard seems to be the modus operandi. Is this a sustainable lifestyle? Well, Mary Jane certainly is enjoying herself and exploring her sexuality to its fullest! Hoorah!

Women have it allThe elephant in the room is still the question of whether women can have it all. A fully functional love and family life, a growing career and further education and kids, travels… Is it a utopian dream we need to shake off quickly and embrace the picture of the workaholic career woman who doesn’t need (or maybe even want) a man? Times are changing and we need to change, and keep up with the cosmopolitan times, right? On the other side of the coin is the argument that trade-offs are a natural occurring part of life. It is impossible to have it all, for one aspect to thrive another will suffer or be neglected.

Victoria Beckham was once quoted as saying, “Women can have it ALL”; personally, I think I am better off believing in this, however dreamy and unrealistic. In fact, why can’t women have it all? We can, and if it’s what we want in life then surely we should go after it. The world is our oyster to get from it what we want. What does that Paulo Coelho quote say again? Ah, yes… “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it”.

It’s not all of us who want it ALL and our definition of what the ALL includes differs from person to person. Let the message be that we are allowed to want it ALL and go after it ALL. Why the hell not?


by @JustVuyi

career corporate ladder
Theo Tshanga

I am in my early 30’s and like most women very career driven, passionate and a go getter.
I started my career at varsity while I was doing my final year and my work involved a bit of lecturing and assisting lecturers with administration work, such as marking student test papers etc. I loved my job and I was fulfilled. I would receive very good feedback from students after lecturing, that’s when I discovered my passion, it was clear that I was born to talk.
I then moved to a large corporation immediately after my contract with the varsity ended, I got offered a job on a 1 year contract as a graduate trainee in my professional field. I just came straight out of varsity with just theory and had no corporate experience. At the time I did a lot of administration, background work. I remember at some point I felt very demotivated, I wanted to get to the core of my profession, little did I know that everything has a beginning and that I had to start somewhere. Through my work I built a very strong relationship with my senior at the time.


At the end of that year, I was offered a permanent position at one of the regional offices as a junior practitioner which I rejected. Many of my friends even my mother wondered how come I rejected the offer as this was a large known corporation, but I had a vision which no one knew about. I moved on to another small sized German company. My move was motivated by the fact that the company was highly unionised and I needed the exposure to work closely with the unions, NUMSA at the time. I was there for 1 year 7 months, and after that stint I got another offer with a medium sized company to look after one of the regions. During my 6 years with this company, I had been promoted 4 times and when I left, I was occupying a senior management position.
Fast forward to today, I have recently been offered a Directorship position and it has always been a vision of mine that when I’m 30 years I want to be in a directorship position. A dream I have now achieved.
I know and understand that most career women would like to know how to climb the corporate ladder, and I’d like to share how I did it:

have a vision career corporate ladder

  1. Have a vision

A vision is a mental picture of the future. It is an idea of what the future can hold but has not yet happened. Vision guides us and it creates a desire to grow and improve. Vision is important because it shows us where we are headed, helps us to keep moving through obstacles, it provides focus and gives us a meaning and purpose to what we do. Remember Oprah Winfrey at the age of 22 was fired from her job as a television reporter because she was “unfit for TV” nevertheless she had a vision that no one else understood. I had a vision that when I was 30 I wanted to be in a directorship position, yes I did not achieve this at 30, but now in my early 30’s I have achieved it.

Having a vision does not mean that the road will be smooth sailing. In your journey you will experience roadblocks, hurdles and detours but what is imperative is that you know where you are heading, that’s fulfilment. It is important that you understand where you are going so that you can map out a plan on how you will get there. Very few things happen by chance, most are planned. I always advice that one keeps a vision board and continuously check if you’re on the right track. You vision will inform all the decisions that you can make in your career. Sometimes you will be offered positions/ promotional opportunities, but if those positions do not align with your vision, reject them.

2. Surround yourself with likeminded people

It is true that you are the company you keep. You need to surround yourself with people that are positive and motivate you to be great and do great. People that understand your vision. Not everyone will understand your vision and it is okay, the few that do, keep them close. Surround yourself with people that are driven so that you are able to share each other success stories, not people who will drain your energy. Networking is very important. Most good network provides support.

I have been lucky as I have met exceptional people in my career who later became friends. They are my support structure. There were those I had met but later had to drop, that is okay. When relationships no longer serve you and your interest, you may exit. By doing this you are creating space for new, fresh, vibrant energies from other people to enter your life. At work it is always important that you are professional at all times and you keep a very few colleagues close to you. In fact if all possible, I would advise against having friends at work. This can be destructive to your work and what you need to achieve. Give yourself time to know and understand your boss.

Build a solid work relationship with your boss. If possible, allow your boss to guide you into achieving your goals. In that way both you and the organisation are benefiting, you give your utmost best and you receive coaching in return.

3. Know your talent and skills

This is very important. Know what you are capable of and what you can do. Understand your talent and skills set and leverage on them. There’s power in knowing your talent and knowing what makes you unique. What you can offer that no one else can, is your competitive advantage. There a saying that goes “Everyone is talent; some leverage it better than others”, this is true. In a workplace there are different people, with different skills set and everyone is viewed as talented, I guess that’s why they were hired the first place. If you don’t have anything that differentiates you from the rest, it is now time to explore and discover it. I always say when I do the career sessions at work, it is important that in the workplace you act and behave like an entrepreneur. Act as if this is your business and that at the end of the financial year end you need to assess whether you have made a profit or a loss. Treat your work as if you are the CEO and you are steering it into a certain direction in order to achieve your goals. This way you will be different. That is my recipe and I’m always trying to stick with it.

4. Acknowledge your weaknesses

My personal weaknesses are procrastination and administration. I hate administration, but with each and every job come administration. It does not matter even if you are an executive, there will always be an element of administration with each and every job out there. The earlier you identify these areas of improvement (as they are called) the better it is for you to derive strategies on how to deal with them. When you have weaknesses, it’s a sign that you are doing something and that you need to improve on it. It’s actually a sign that you are moving. Remember most of the people at work are not your friends; sometimes they will be abrupt in informing you of your weaknesses. If you have identified them earlier, you will not feel like you are being criticised, instead you will appreciate them to better yourself.

5. Find a mentor

This will sound so cliché, but finding a mentor is the step in the right direction. Why not shorten the learning curve and find someone who has been there and done that and will guide you through challenges that you may come across. A mentor can connect you with some other influential people. Typical development areas, a mentor can help with their time, stress management, prioritising and communication skills to name but a few.

These are the typical benefits of getting yourself a mentor:

  • Knowledge and contacts
    Business and life skills
    Wisdom and learning from experience
    Perspective and vision
    Improved performance

Climbing the corporate ladder is not only about promotions. It is also about acquiring a new skill through multi-skilling and working in a totally different department. Sometimes you are so great in your job that you are a specialist. That is okay, as not all of us are meant to be leaders. Leading people is a skill that is learned over time. Promotion into a leadership role is learned through experience, it does not happen overnight.

Remember, the only person that has a key to drive your career is yourself, no one else. Always be positive and persevere.

By @Zatbee

Chica Logo as designed by Andrea Barras

My interaction with Andrea Barras during the process of establishing CHICA’s brand identity was phenomenal.  The logo design, the choice of colours and the list of questions I had to answer in the beginning, it was all very different from my previous engagements with graphic designers. At the end of it all, I even felt like I paid too little for what I got back, I actually had to stop myself from telling her that and figured this interview would be a lot more meaningful to her than an extra R500/R1000. A big thank you to my twitter buddy @GIJane_zn for the twitter referral!

Here is how my chat with Andrea went 🙂

Lelo Boyana: Tell us a bit about yourself and how you ended up in design?

Andrea Barras: I’m Andrea, a graphic designer with 9+ years of commercial design experience (in London and SA) and a Bachelor of Journalism from Rhodes University, specialising in Media Studies and Communication Design. I have been freelancing since 2010 and primarily work with individuals, small businesses and bloggers across the country and internationally.

LeloB: So what else do you do besides design amazing Logos?

Andrea: Other than helping my clients to establish their brand identities, I also do packaging design, web design, wedding and event stationery design, and a bit of social media management too (pretty much everything really!) When I’m not working, I love to hang out with my hubby and kids, and to read, crochet and do DIY things around my house.

Meet The Brains Behind The CHICA Logo: Andrea Barras

LeloB: A woman of many talents, clearly! What sort of challenges do you deal with in your sort of business?

Andrea: As with any small business, there are many challenges – from non-paying clients, to juggling everything on your own (i.e doing your own admin, marketing, client liaison etc on top of the creative design work) – but I think the main challenge is finding a way to stay relevant, to keep improving on your processes and to keep growing as a person (while making sure you stay on top of all your work!).

LeloB: And what makes it all worth it for you?

Andrea: My motto is “design like you give a damn” and I really try to do just that by establishing relationships with my clients, by digging deep to find out what they really need and how I can help them. A happy client is my ultimate end goal and I love to see my carefully crafted work in action, it gives me a great sense of achievement.

LeloB: Tell us about what process you follow when a client approaches you with a request for a design?

Andrea: I have a rough approach to this, but I do tend to follow a similar structure/process: briefing/discovery, research, concepts, refine. Each of my clients is different and they require different things, it makes sense to me not to be too rigid but to rather to mould my service to the individual.

LeloB: Was the process similar for CHICA?

Andrea: You tell me 😉 I think it was – I’m relatively good at ‘feeling a vibe’ from each of my clients and you were great to work with, allowing me to go with my own flow and to really get creative.

LeloB: You were very patient throughout the process, and were not bothered by the back and forth changes. Does it ever get frustrating when a client changes their mind all the time?

Andrea: Thank you – and yes, it can occasionally get frustrating (when you are on the 129th revision or so!) but fortunately this isn’t a common scenario and I don’t let it get to me too much. I always feel that if there is a problem, chances are there is something I am not doing right / communicating well enough to my client. Also, I’m not a mind reader and I can only go on the feedback I get from a client, so some back and forth is totally expected and I’m at peace with the process.

LeloB: Your first drafts blew me away. What made you include the Afro lady in your drafts because I did not mention Afros lol?

Andrea: Haha, thank you again – and honestly, I can’t even remember! The creative process is a strange thing 😉 I often draw inspiration from research online and just looking through images from google/pinterest keyword searches. Sometimes a random word that a client may use in our briefing session could be the very thing that I draw all my inspiration from and they may not even realize it – this is why I like my clients to give me as much info as possible to start with (as well as visual examples where possible too) – it’s all really useful in helping me to ‘feel the vibe’ (I say that often, not many other ways to describe it!)

LeloB: What do you think of the final product, are you proud of your creation?

Andrea: I am indeed – I think it’s worked out really well and I think it clearly communicates your aspirations and ideas for what CHICA is ☺



LeloB: Happy to hear that, thank you for the experience Andrea. How do potential clients get hold of you?

Andrea: Email is always best:, therwise check out my website: Or find me on Twitter: @andreaCbarras

And that ladies (and gents) was our chat with Andrea, she comes highly recommended!

By @MsLeloB