‘We live in a country where the triple challenge of poverty, inequality and unemployment is our primary mission. The solution requires our collective wisdom to change the status quo. This is especially relevant for many women who may be dealing with the added pressure of being side-lined for leadership positions and economic opportunities, whether in the public or private space. As such, I am mostly driven by the possibility of being part of creating positive change in our society and making life better, not only for myself, but for others around me.’
These are the words of Ms Ayanda Makhaye who recently completed a Master of Commerce in Leadership Studies at UKZN and is preparing to embark upon a PhD. She said her master’s degree enabled her to get over her fear of leading and provided her with in-depth leadership and business skills to help grow her expertise. ‘I urge and challenge other women to push through, educate themselves, and create economic opportunities for themselves.’
Within the first year of having commenced the master’s programme in 2016, Makhaye was retrenched, which resulted in a loss of income. Her relentless search for employment to no avail made her realise how limited employment opportunities were in the country. This inspired her to register her own company, Bantu Developments and Consulting, in 2017 with the hope of creating economic opportunities for herself and those around her.
The company specialises in consulting for both the private and public sectors, providing professional services relating to economic development strategies, strategic management training and mentorship, feasibility studies, business plans, and research. The company has provided leadership expertise to small and emerging businesses in agriculture, tourism and other business sectors looking to initiate, retain and expand.
It further strives to create new and diverse economic opportunities for the future and has plans to expand its service offerings to include project management, property development and asset management.
‘The exposure acquired from consulting resulted in me wanting to increase my knowledge further, and I was therefore motivated to pursue my doctorate on a full-time basis,’ said Makhaye.
‘I believe that my PhD, which is supervised by Prof Mogie Subban from the School of Management, IT and Governance will help to grow my knowledge on public sector issues and help me to make a valuable contribution to the creation of new knowledge within my field of study. I am presently finalising my proposal,’ she added.
Makhaye recently had the opportunity to present a co-authored paper with Professor Cecile Gerwel Proches from the Graduate School of Business and Leadership titled: ‘Bridging the Urban-Rural Gap in Facilitating Local Economic Development (LED): The Case Study of a District Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa’ at the 26th Conference of the International Association People-Environment Studies (IAPS), which was meant to be held in Quebec City, Canada but ended up being held online because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
‘The pandemic has been quite challenging. It has meant coping with the demands of being a mother of four kids (two in primary school) and balancing my studies and home-schooling my kids to ensure they don’t fall behind. Nonetheless, it has also provided added benefits: having to embrace technology and adjusting to the current working conditions fully,’ she said.
In a message to young women, Makhaye said it is essential to be true to oneself and never let doubt or fear cripple one’s potential.
‘You are far too capable and have so much value to add to the world as there is a greater need for more women leaders. Pursue your dreams and grow your knowledge and skills,’ she said.