Two years ago, 32-year-old Itumeleng Paballo Senekane from Lesotho left her full-time job as a planner for one of her country's local district authorities after she almost got raped whilst doing her job. After resigning, she decided to give the world of entrepreneurship a go. The result: Shekinah Business Solutions, a thriving venture that helps aspiring and rookie entrepreneurs in Lesotho build, develop, and scale their businesses. Earlier this year, she joined Afrinection to position her brand globally and connect with like-minded individuals. We decided to interview her, to hear more about her journey so far.
Q. You mentioned that you became an entrepreneur because your previous work conditions denied your necessities? Could you please explain? When did you decide: enough is enough?
A. I worked as an assistant planner in the Qacha's Nek district. They gave me a storeroom to live in, which had no electricity, water and a toilet. My work revolved around visiting various villages, of which some were remote. Sometimes I had to travel for over an hour to get to work and back home. It wasn’t safe. I left when I had requested transport from the office but wasn’t given it, whilst the counsellors were breathing down my neck for planning services – and rightly so. I, therefore, decided to walk with one of the local counsellors to the village which was 3 hours away and in the mountains. On our way back, the counsellor decided she wanted to see someone in one of the villages. She showed me the route back. In the valley alone in the evening, I almost got raped. I left the following day.
Q. What is Shekinah Business Solutions all about what? When did you found your company?
A. I founded Shekinah Business Solutions in September 2016 and helps rookie entrepreneurs develop, grow and scale their businesses. Our services are geared toward individuals who want to turn their idea into profit. Having an ideal business idea and hitting the floor running is one thing, validating the problem and your solution are another. We believe in creating customer-inspired innovations and solutions to design unique value propositions. We help entrepreneurs create strategies to build strong business foundations, and we help them with branding, marketing, and social media.
Q. What were the key reasons for entrepreneurs to see their plans not materialising? What is holding them back?
A. As entrepreneurs, our instinct is to create. We have great ideas and want to see them implemented. This often means we hit the floor running without taking the time to validate our ideas and respective solutions. Lack of capital and resources held me back in the past, too.
Q. What were the main lessons you have learned whilst building your business?
A. Partnerships are built on a diversity of talents. Your company’s mission, vision and values should hold your team together as you work towards a common goal.
Entrepreneurship is nearly impossible when you are stressed about your financial survival. As you are building your company, try to find and integrate several streams of income. Oprah said: Do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do.”
I also believe in the Action, Learn & Repeat strategy. Test your idea first, learn from the mistakes you make, leave what doesn't work behind, and implement what does. Repeat this process. It is a great strategy for growth.
Finally, ask for help, online and offline, get a coach, strategist or mentor.
Q. What has been the highlight since you left your 9 am to 5 pm job?
A. Walking in my purpose. I love seeing people blossom into the entrepreneurs they were meant to be.
Q. Where do you see your company and yourself in five years from now? What are your goals?
A. As I action, learn and repeat, I see the company as an established brand. My aim is to position Shekinah as a go-to business solutions company. I want to see growth in revenue and in the number of entrepreneurs that have built their businesses with us. We have one e-book done and it is free, we want more e-books and other digital products available, and we will organise workshops, seminars, webinars, online courses, and offline courses.
Q. Starting a business is one thing, running it is another - and then there is scalability. What makes a business scalable?
A. A scalable business is a business that has a built-in strategy for continuous innovation, one that allows for flexibility and comes up with contemporary solutions applicable to the future. Foundational systems enable growth and scalability, and this also counts for your solutions. Have your finger on the pulse when it comes to changes in the marketplace and the economy. This helps your business to be flexible and to accommodate any changes.
Q. Who is your male and female African entrepreneurial role model?
- Ntombenhle Khathwane of AfroBotanics (South Africa)
- Strive Masiyiwa of Econet Wireless and Econet Media (Zimbabwe)
Q. Why did you join Afrinection?
A. I joined Afrinection to position me and my brand, and to found on an international platform. I am still refining many things and I will update my profile and connect. I believe two of the most important touching points for any business, are trust and experience. Positioning oneself online to gain credibility is very important. I am also looking to connect with other like-minded entrepreneurs across the globe to scale my business.