1. Can you please tell us more about your business?
The business is in the transportation sector which I found important as we know transport in any country carries the backbone of the labour force, especially in South Africa making it important. I then found it important to establish a logistics and transport business which seemed like a great field to grow.
2. When, how and why did you start your business?
I established the business in 2021 after the passing of my husband, as a woman who had suddenly been thrust into being a financial leader and provider, that time remains especially engraved in my heart as the year I not only started a business but the year I had to start standing in my capabilities for myself and my children.
3. What is your role in the business?
I am the proud founder of Lethaneo Coaches which has been operational since 2021 and I also sit in its executive structures and provide operational insight.
4. Where did you study and what did you study?
After completing my Matric, I then went to Traffic College and proudly attained numerous certificates from different courses aligned with Traffic Management.
5. How did you finance your business?
Start-up capital is one of the hardest things to source when venturing into business and I had to think hard because I’m now also a single mom but I managed to use my finances to purchase a bus, trailer and minibus shuttle as a start.
6. Describe your average workday, if such a thing exists.
Well, no two days are the same which keeps me on my toes, but I believe the mark of any successful leader in business is the ability to delegate responsibility and make appropriate financial decisions. I am blessed to have a well-skilled management team that can effectively address matters arising and runs the day-to-day operational affairs including the detailed documentation and recordings needed before one of our bus assets can travel and service our customers.
7. How do you balance your home life and your work life?
My kids and our family mean everything to me. I work hard so I have more time with them. I don’t always get perfect or right but I am intentional about prioritising family.
8. What drives you and inspires you?
Women advocating for themselves is what inspires me, I take inspiration from the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Fantasia Barrino-Taylor, and a host of South African women who continue to show up even when it is hard. The structure of our family has changed since the passing of my husband and my children understand the fact that I need to be out and about to secure our family financially. Everything I do is to leave a legacy for my kids which is why I make sure to include special and family-specific practices like visiting their dad’s grave every month which enriches us and keeps us close.
9. Where and when do you have your best ideas?
I read different books and magazines and listen to motivational speakers. I get my best ideas when I am relaxed physically and mentally and hungry for a new project.
10. Where and how do you market/advertise your business for sales leads?
I’ve seen word of mouth be a powerful tool that has served our business well. I also believe in the value of traditional marketing which is why you will see one of our representatives hand out flyers at designated spots.
11. What is next for your business?
I’m expanding and scaling in different ways now as a woman in business. I’ve recently ventured into something very exciting which has called out the creative entrepreneur in me and it’s not predictable. I also meet women who are like-minded individuals and I see myself doing many projects in the creative space.
12. What advice would you give to female entrepreneurs hoping to start their own business?
Building something meaningful comes with a unique set of challenges and one has to take the bull by the horns. Firstly, I’d advise them to do adequate research and conduct due diligence on the industry they are interested in before investing in the business. You don’t want to lose your hard-earned money on something that will waste your biggest asset, which is time.
Lerato Maphatsoe, also known as Elizabeth Lerato Mashapa, hails from Soweto, Meadowlands Zone 2, and grew up in Mofolo Central, where she took on the mammoth and vital role of managing the Mashapa household, after the unfortunate loss of her two brothers.
In 1992, Lerato met her husband, and together they navigated life’s journey, welcoming their first daughter in 1993 and officially tying the knot in 1994. Despite facing challenges, including her mother’s struggles with depression and alcoholism, Lerato remained steadfast in managing her family’s well-being.
Her career trajectory took a turn in 2004 when she joined the Johannesburg Metro Police Department, dedicating a decade to the organisation before resigning in 2014 to support her husband’s career. Lerato’s resilience and determination shone through as she actively contributed to building their home in Meyersdal, brick by brick.
The unexpected passing of her husband in 2021 prompted Lerato to reclaim her independence and embark on a new and exciting chapter after facing seemingly insurmountable challenges. Lerato Maphatsoe has not only redefined herself but also embraced entrepreneurship with remarkable vigour. In addition to her family life, Lerato ventured into the business world, founding two enterprises.
She spearheaded a Logistics & Transportation business, demonstrating her strategic acumen in managing operations. Simultaneously, Lerato established a transportation business-based venture set against the backdrop of the Cape Town Winelands. This dual entrepreneurial pursuit reflects Lerato’s life and legacy of resilience and entrepreneurial spirit as she navigates the thrilling and challenging landscape of business.
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