DURBAN – A KwaZulu-Natal businesswoman who started her first small business with an investment of just R79 and grew it into a national operation, has been selected to represent South Africa at the World Women Leadership Congress in India next month.
Reshma Maharaj, who runs a successful business, Golden Rewards, in Port Shepstone and the print and online Enspired Women magazine, has been selected as a “Super Achiever” and a “2019 World Women Role Player from South Africa” by conference organisers.
She will address delegates including 600 global leaders on the topic of inspiring and supporting women and youth in business. The conference runs from February 15 to 17, in Mumbai.
Maharaj obtained a diploma in public relations from PC Training College and studied a course in financial management before taking up a post as a financial manager at a hotel on the KZN South Coast.
But it was only when Maharaj noticed a gap in the market in 2007 while shopping for a wooden garden cabin that she decided to do some market research with a view to setting up a manufacturing facility.
“We started the business in our back yard with R79, which was the cost of placing a classified advert in a local newspaper,” Maharaj said.
By 2010 the business had grown and her husband quit his full time job to join her in the business.
Now the company supplies a range of wood and fibre cement cottages and cabins across KZN to Gauteng and the Eastern Cape. The firm also constructs office partitions for corporate clients and plans to expand into Botswana.
Maharaj employs 20 people, including staff who work for Enspired Women, a second successful business, which she established in 2018. She has joined forces with a team of professional and entrepreneur contributors, including SA Smart Film Art, to create a YouTube channel with talks on how to expose small businesses and deliver information to start-ups and SMMEs
Maharaj said she founded Enspired Women after attending a Small Enterprise Development Agency workshop with 45 women entrepreneurs.
“I wanted to create a platform to educate, promote, expose and inspire women not to give up. The platform has 18000 global followers. I share stories of women who faced challenges and never gave up and stories of women who have become very successful despite their challenges.”
She also holds educational business workshops for entrepreneurs in KZN, Gauteng and the Eastern Cape. She keeps entrance fees low for accessibility to start-up firms.
She is looking forward to addressing delegates at the conference. “I am so happy to be representing South African women. The mission at the event will be to network with leaders from all over the world and open more opportunities for women from South Africa globally,” Maharaj said.