ABOUT MMABATHO MONTSE
I am a mother of two boys, an entrepreneur, an advocate for women leadership, a social scientist and an inspirational speaker. I am an empathetic leader and I am selfaware. I am passionate about social justice and all issues that regard women. I grew up in a two-roomed shack in Kimberly, Northern Cape. My mother died of HIV/AIDS related illnesses when I was 17 and since my father has always been absent in my life, I consider myself to be an orphan. I fell pregnant when I was 18. However, despite all these odds against me, I have a different story to tell. I have managed to jump over hurdles of a history that most black South Africans struggle to make it through because of my willingness to work hard and the luck of meeting compassionate people who are dedicated to making a difference in other people’s lives. My life demonstrates that the structural inequalities and pervasive poverty challenges can be overcome.
I enrolled for a certificate in Marketing Management when I was 19 at the University of South Africa (UNISA), I did my studies on a part time basis as I also started working for a small Civil Engineering company as a Receptionist so that I could provide for my child. Thereafter, my career in inbound travel started when I joined a small Inbound Tour Operator as an assistant to the Travel Consultants. I was promoted within 6 months of joining the company because of my strong work ethic and my willingness to learn. I later worked for companies such as The Forum, with fantastic leadership from Glynis Hyslop and Tsogo Sun, one of South Africa’s largest hotel and casino group where I was mentored by its then Group Sales Director, Jackie Williams. During my years in corporate I enrolled for a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management with the Regenesys Business School. During this time, I still had to juggle work, motherhood and my studies.
In 2012, I established the MontseM Foundation (MM Foundation). I started the foundation because I identified a need to give hope to the many people of South Africa who live in dire conditions such as the environment that I grew up in. Its aim is to work in partnership with NGO’s and communities to create sustainable development programmes. The foundation seeks to alleviate poverty; to create jobs; to listen to the voices of all people and to communicate with other NGO’s and the private sector inthe field of education, HIV/AIDS, women’s rights, human security and higher education.
After over eight years of corporate employment, I followed my entrepreneurial passion by starting a boutique luxury travel company that I later sold to a family business. I then became a franchisee of one of the biggest fast-food restaurants in South Africa and I started an interior décor and homeware retail and consulting firm. I have always been a believer in the power of education and so I continued with my studies and I enrolled and completed a Bachelor of Commerce Honours degree in Business Management with UNISA. I am currently conducting research for a Master’s Degree in the field of Governance, specialising in Public Policy. My research focuses on Women’s Social Entrepreneurship and how it is a bridge to economic growth and development. My research is supervised by Dr Darlene Miller, a Senior Lecturer at the Wits School Governance. The luck of meeting compassionate people continues to favour me as Dr Miller is not only my Supervisor, but she has also kindly offered me her friendship and has become one of my mentors.
I am a diverse entrepreneur, having founded and successfully run a boutique luxury travel agency for over a year that I later sold off to a successful family business. I subsequently became a franchisee of one of the biggest and oldest fast-food restaurants in South Africa; a Steers and FishAways combo, which I successfully managed for over five years, yielding annual turnovers between 7 and 8 million Rands. I then established and continue to run Tea Tree &CO, an interior design consulting and homeware retail brand. Tea Tree &CO operates as a retail store as well as an online store. Tea Tree &CO’s product offering includes silk flowers, luxury bed linen, home fragrances, African inspired décor pieces, contemporary artworks and gifts. Tea Tree &CO is teamwork and we work with local fine-art artists by assisting them with the sales of their artworks. We also provide them with soft business skills such as pricing models, office administration and record keeping. My vision for Tea Tree &CO is for it to become a high-end global brand.
I have received the following Awards and Press:
SA Home Owner Magazine February 2020 Trending Editorial
CEO Magazine Pan African Award for Most Influential Women in Retail & Wholesale: Country Winner 2019
Ernst & Young Winning Women Entrepreneurs Alumni 2019
Index Dubai Exhibition 2018
Destiny Magazine January 2017 Entrepreneurs Feature
Through my on-the-ground experience in social entrepreneurship, a B.Com (Hons) and Masters of Management (MM), I bring to Social Science Consulting considerable professional experience in non-profit management at an executive level. In addition to founding the MM Foundation and commercial enterprises that have a social entrepreneurship element and experience sitting on boards of NGO’s such as Colour Me Africa and JAGuild that both focus on development of African artists.
I provide consulting services to non-profits on programme development; strategic planning; board governance; development and transformation. Under the supervision of Dr Chelete Monyane, an Advocate of the High Court of South Africa, I have participated in research and discussions around The Hybrid Human Rights-based Development Evaluation Methodology hosted by the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute and I have conducted other research work. I have produced institutional and strategic plans and I am adept at public presentations and workshops. I provide consulting, workshop facilitating and advisory services to non-profit organisations/NGO; religious, governmental, and international sectors. I specialise in providing high quality consulting services on social science topics at a reasonable cost. Using a network of social scientists of high quality, I create teams to respond to the unique needs of specific projects. The researchers I work with are affiliated with academic institutions and they are professionals in their respective fields of study.
Conscious Feminine Conversations is about giving women the opportunity to be transparent with their personal life challenges in a safe environment and to receive feedback from other women on how to change their situations for the better. This space allows women to express their life stories through practicing consciousness and self-awareness, learning to embrace their vulnerabilities and seeing them as strengths and thereby building each other.
It is a place for women to gather and discuss anything & everything about being a woman. Topics include but are not limited to; self-care, sacred sexuality, emotional health, motherhood, spirituality, art, women in politics, nutrition, consciousness. There are no restrictions to what may be discussed. Women come together and create magic, heal, make positive connections and nurture a sacred sisterhood where everyone can share their wisdom, voice and heart without any judgement.
The concept of ‘girl code’ has applications in the business environment too. It employs the understanding that there is no one that is better equipped to know better the challenges faced by women entrepreneurs than other women entrepreneurs. The playing fields are not even. Despite some progress, men still continue to dominate many industries because of their male privilege. Therefore, having someone who understands the challenges, offering mentorship is a great advantage. For established women entrepreneurs, the opportunity to share expertise and soft skills is greatly satisfying. A competent mentor can make a difference between success and failure for emerging women entrepreneurs; the former being always the end goal.
Women entrepreneurs achieve success after having to work twice as much harder than their male counterparts. Seeing other women trying to succeed, an established entrepreneur need not wait to be approached for mentorship. Offering to mentor someone might be an answer to a prayer. Many people are afraid to ask for help because the fear of being rejected or ridiculed. Women entrepreneurs who are constantly looking for mentees can make a difference in how other women experience the entrepreneurial journey..