This Women’s Month, we’re shining a bright light on the incredible women who are part of the Mr Price Foundation family. Empowered women lead to empowered societies, and we’re honoured to be part of the many girls and women’s journeys to unlocking their true potential.

  • Thandeka Zulu, mother, advisor, business woman, entrepreneur, is a consultant for the foundation’s agri programme, HandPicked

  • Owner of her own company, she has a passion for uplifting township economies through farming and small business enterprises

  • Her advice to people is that they should network and know their ecosystem, because everyone is important

 

Thandeka Gugulethu Zulu is a pillar of strength and inspiration. As a single mother, advisor, businesswoman and entrepreneur, she’s fearless, faith-filled and passionate about her country and community upliftment. Starting her retail journey with the Mr Price Group in 2008 as an Allocator in the Home Division, she soon joined the Mr Price Foundation family for almost a decade. If patriotism could be personified, it would be Thandeka.

“Women’s month for me, is a reminder that we as women have strength and power beyond measure. Whatever we apply our minds to, will flourish and multiply. We are the incubators, and whatever seed is planted, we multiply it and we give it life,” says this eternal optimist.

And nothing phases Thandeka’s infectious hope and optimism. No event at the Mr Price Foundation is complete without her rich voice singing our national anthem. Thandeka has three children; a 14-year old son Lukhanyiso, a 5-year old daughter, Mhlophe….and her third child is embracing the spirit of Ubuntu. Her selflessness is neverending where helping people is concerned, and with her levels of empathy, she embodies the true “rainbow nation”.

Originally from Osizweni in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal, Thandeka matriculated from Siyamukela High School, and moved to Durban to study Development Economics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. She furthered her education with a certificate in Philanthrophy and Non-profit Strategy at the Haas School of Business, University of California in Berkeley.

Thandeka’s passion for business lies in uplifting township economies through farming and small business enterprises. “My dream is to empower more people in townships and rural communities to build resilient businesses and contribute to the economy and their children’s lives!”

After spending 10 years as the Head of our JumpStart work-readiness programme at the Mr Price Foundation, she spread her wings in 2018 to open Niya Consiulting where she is the CEO. Her company facilitates and advises small-scale farmers about agribusinesses within the township economy, and how to gain market access.

“I was fortunate to work for a corporate that prided itself in upholding it’s values. Life is not about the colour of your skin, but about understanding who you are first, and the purpose you were created for! That is what will make you prosper in your career.”

In 2019 this multi-talented, multi-skilled woman of substance was nominated as South Africa’s ambassador for Swedish-based UBI Global, an international benchmark accelerator programme for start-ups and corporate matching.

A member of the Africa Agribusiness Incubation Network, she works with different African countries in agriculture, collecting best practice methods that are suitable for Africa. She also sits on the Entrepreneurship Committee under the Directors Association, which drives Governance to entrepreneurs to build resilient businesses.

As though reaching for the stars is not enough, Thankdeka recently authored and published two bilingual children’s books: My Road To School and Life As We Know It.

Thandeka currently works as one of the implementation partners for the Mr Price Foundation’s newly launched pilot programme HandPicked, which facilitates new methods of farming to create agriprenuers. The programme trains candidates with practical technical agricultural skills and agricultural business skills to empower them to be better agriprenuers. Its uniqueness lies in the production of crops in vertical growers, which assists with short lead times, which ensure that produce can reach the market faster.

“As moms and women in business we can teach our children that nothing is impossible if your mind is on it and remain humble. To young women out there, know who you are first, and the purpose that you were created for. Hloniphe umhlaba! (you need to respect your community, world, elders and everything on Earth).

Thandeka Zulu and Mawande Mbelekazi, Director for Esonuyanda Turf and Landscape Solutions CC, at the HandPicked growing hub. Image: Mr Price Foundation / Pierre Tostee

Thandeka Zulu and Mawande Mbelekazi, Director for Esonuyanda Turf and Landscape Solutions CC, at the HandPicked growing hub. Image: Mr Price Foundation / Pierre Tostee