Founder of the Kathabo Group, Lerato Rampana is not afraid of a challenge. After working in the corporate world in East London, Johannesburg and Centurion, Rampana decided to follow her instincts as an entrepreneur and quit her job in 2008.
She returned home to Bloemfontein where she saw that there were no young black women representing the events industry in the Free State and filled the gap by starting Kathabo Media, a production events company under the Kathabo Group umbrella, which she now runs with her husband.
Lerato says that not having to loan money was a blessing from the get-go. “We had just enough capital to start the business and thankfully didn’t have to borrow money.” When the Group landed a milestone project in 2010, they saved every cent. “I guess that’s how we’ve survived for the last 10 years.”
As a beneficiary of the Innovator Trust, which supports the growth of small black-owned businesses in South Africa through training, mentorship and skills exchange, Rampana expanded her existing business interests to Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and cleaning services. “During all my past work, I realised that I love organising things. I’m passionate about serving people. Whenever things need to be done, I’m the first one to jump up and do them,” she says.
Navigating the ICT business landscape can seem like an uphill battle, but Rampana says she works well under pressure. She puts in seven hours of work on a quiet day, and 12 hours when things get busy.
“It’s not easy being a partner at home, a partner at work and a woman in business. You need to have that positive mindset and say: ‘I can do it,’” says Rampana.
She tries not to take work home with her but has to do so now and again. “I try not to do it often because I believe that when I am home, it is family time. At home, I try to focus solely on my family’s needs.”
And if the pressure gets too much for her, she takes a moment to focus on mindfulness through meditation before returning to the business at hand.
Rampana attributes her business success to agility. “We are flexible, able to adapt and change, and we always deliver.” In fact, achieving her goals is one of her greatest joys. “I get immense satisfaction seeing a project we have worked on succeed; leaving a good impression with a client.”
Some of her go-to business tools to ensure success include breaking down goals into smaller project plans, and giving herself enough time to finish one project before starting the next - and then reflecting on the completed project.
If she had to start all over again, Lerato says she’ll be braver. “I’d take more risks. And I wouldn’t be so trusting of people’s intentions all the time.”