Find out how disabled Sebenzile Matsebula was able to found a successful business empire in South Africa.
Sebenzile Matsebula is the founder of Motswako Office Systems. She’s a proof that anyone who has the ambition, and are prepared to work exceptionally hard, can be wherever they want to be, even if they are physically challenged (disabled).
An average South African who dreams of managing their own businesses face a lot of challenges; talk-less of the ones with one form of disability or the other. Sebenzile Matsebula was diagnosed with Poliomyelitus, popularly known as polio or infantile paralysis, at an early age of 10 months. She had used clutches her whole life, until now that she prefers to be on the wheelchair because our energy cannot be as good as it used to when we were younger.
Who’s Sebenzile Matsebula?
Sebenzile is an entrepreneur and a businesswoman, an activist for social justice. And the one she’s mostly proud of-mother of two young men aged 28 and 25 years. She is the Executive Director of Motswako Office Solutions. In Tswana, motswako means “in the mix.” Sebenzile explains that since the company works as a singular team, all the divisions of the company are interrelated to ensure a seamless and holistic approach to delivering services to the client, hence the name-mix. In the company are people of differing expertise, experiences, backgrounds, race, disabilities, etc, all working together in rhythm to produce a wonderful melody, produce a successful and dynamic company. There’s no doubt that the company is based on sound principles of transformation and empowerment.
The Beginning of Her Entrepreneurial Journey
Becoming an entrepreneur was a kind of accidental. Sebenzile says: “Initially I was approached by a company that wanted to up its score points on the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) score card. I am black, a woman, and have a disability. So they scored 3 different points for the price of one individual. Reading about successful black women in South Africa, who had grabbed the opportunities afforded to them to participate in entrepreneurial activities, also inspired me. I just couldn’t resist the challenge. I thrive on challenge, so I convinced myself, I want to move into business.”
“In the entrepreneurial space there is no charity and there are no handouts; it’s all about the bottom line and profits. Avoid negativity and self pity – no one is interested in that!”
The incredible Sebenzile has an immeasurable work experience, one of which was serving as Director in the Presidency of the Republic of South Africa and as head of the Office on the status of Disabled persons. She also worked as a development consultant at Lindandanda Consulting, there after she joined the Motswako team. She has been actively involved in business development to enable economic empowerment of vulnerable groups in South Africa, as well as the Marginalizeds in the last 26 years. Currently, Sebenzile chairs the Disability Workshop development Enterprise and the Disability Empowerment Concerns Holding Company. She is also a board member of Action on Disability and Development, Centre for Alternative and Augmentative Communication, Cheshire Homes South Africa, First Rand Foundation, South African Development Trust for Disabled People and the Presidential Advisory Council on Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment.
Sebenzile says: “I have always had to work harder than non-disabled people to prove myself in the industry. The perception out there is that if one is disabled, then one is incapable in many ways. They cannot cope with the pressure, they are poorly educated if at all, they are not smart, etc. I had to prove that these were all stereotypes and not true.”
Her Advice to the World…
Sebenzile was nominated to serve on the Committee of the United Nations Convention for Persons with Disabilities. She really felt honoured. “I was proud to be recognized for all the hard work that I have put in for both the development of the Convention and also for my achievements in the disability sector.”
She always advised people with disabilities wanting to start their own business, to get a good education. “It’s important for parents of disabled children to ensure that their children have the best possible education throughout their schooling lives. A tertiary education is also preferable to give one an advantage in working through the minefield of business.” She further says that hard work, diligence, and dedication are essential. “In the entrepreneurial space there is no charity and no handouts; it’s all about the bottom line and profits. Avoid negativity and self pity – no one is interested in that!”
“Be empowered by reading and understanding the industry you want to work in.”
“Network and market yourself aggressively with confidence that you can deliver. Partner with other players in the industry of your choice such as registration on networks and forums that talk to your particular interests of business.”
How Does She take a Break?
Outside her busy work schedule, Sebenzile loves treating herself to a day at the spa. She likes to swim, enjoys reading and meditates when she needs to relax her brain or watch television when all else fails. Life as a disabled person is not easy but it can be worthwhile and enjoyable if you take responsibility for your life. – Sebenzile Matsebula.
Do you want to visit Sebenzile’s website? Click here