Shandini NaidooBy Shandini Naidoo|November 18, 2021|8 Minutes|In Risk and Glory, Risk and Glory

Risk and Glory

"A life in the day of a women plotting an Amazon for Africa."

Shandini Naidoo is a lawyer, turned entrepreneur in agriculture. She has recently been nominated to a government advisory post in the field. But it has proved far from plain sailing for her in the boardroom.

The day in the life of a women entrepreneur in Africa? It is a daunting day filled with pitfalls. Under the African sky, women entrepreneurs are scarce with little support. The barriers that women entrepreneurs face range from cultural, a shortage of role models, lack of better opportunities and limited access to finance. Add to that limited opportunities for education to the so called “imposter syndrome” withthe sapping of  assertiveness and confidence that they bring.

I am lucky to have a role model – my mother; an award-winning pioneer, who ventured into the male-dominated petroleum industryin the difficult days after South Africa achieved democracy. She faced it all with grace, poise, and determination. My mother was the first example of a women entrepreneur I saw and I watched herintently with adoration while growing up.

I took cues from her. She was alwaysimpeccably groomed and dressed to perfection. Her power suits seemed to transform her from doting mother to super-business women, in an instant.She is my inspiration. She ran multiple businesses with the courage, tenacity, resilience and focus.

I needed all the inspiration I could get when I began my legal career. Learning how to speak, when to talk, how to dress, are skills a woman entrepreneur learns very quickly. From day one, I knew it was going to an uphill battle. My recollections of preparing for consultations and meetings are filled with moments of shaking hands and sweaty palms before walking into those boardrooms dominated by a giant dark wood boardroom table with chairs filled by men.

I walked in knowing full well I would be judged from the moment I opened my mouth.

From the awkward glares, to the uncomfortable silence in the boardroom when I made a comment have not changed; even with the shift in my choice of career. The looks that say: “I cannot believe she said that” or “that’s pretty clever for someone like her.”

The transition from one male-dominated industry to another, was easier than expected and turned into one of the most thrilling experiences of my life. Again, I get those sceptical looks and those subtle gasps of shock when I answer the questions that they believe I don’t have the answers to from people who think I know little about agriculture, business and law.Yet, this gives me the upper hand every time.

Prior to meeting me, most attendees to a meeting expect a man to walk through the door or the voice over a Zoom meeting to be that of a man. Being the “surprise act” in a meeting has taught me to keep a poker face and be strong, despite my own insecurities and doubts about my ability being a women entrepreneur in Africa.

I grew up on a livestock farm, as a young girl, dressed in blue dungerees and cowboy boots. I recall the excitement and joy I felt, watching my Dad drive up a long winding dirt road towards the farm house, waving to thefarmworkers who tended the flock of sheep and herd of cattle as we passed by.

I grew to love and appreciate animals; the functioning of the farm and the lives of the farmworkers. Now, here I am, developing an electronic agricultural marketplace that is said to be the Amazon of agriculture for Africa.My new career choice doesn’t feel like a typical look and feel for a women. To me, it has brought the greatest sense of purpose and service. I finally have the sensation that this is what I am meant to do and this is where I belong.

Women entrepreneurs wear many hats and juggle many jobs. Despite the entrepreneurial landscape,tilted in mens’ favour,women entrepreneurs are breaking barriers. Roles once reserved for men in Africa are now being assumed by highly educated, driven, ambitious, and inspired women.

Women entrepreneurs in positions of power now can inspire the youth, through designing and rolling out unique and innovative solutions that can offer women access to markets and bring them into the formal financial systems.

This is key to breaking barriers for women in business. Women entrepreneurs have always had to work, harder, smarter, longer, to prove themselves as worthy and capable. These efforts have not been in vain. Through persistent hard work, plus support from institutions, businesses and government; women entrepreneurs have the chance to close the gender gap and create an Africa that is inclusive and progressive.


(What’s your story?)"

Billionaire Tomorrow launches a new section capturing the sacrifice, spirit and splendour of the African entrepreneur.

This is a section written by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs. Each piece is a snapshot in the struggles and triumphs of those who swim against the tide to risk their own money for uncertain reward. The thoughts of an entrepreneur who fights his, or her, way past the naysayers, sceptics and reluctant lenders to stake their claim.

The way to reward and glory? All too often, this is a rocky road, fringed with thorns, with slithering snakes in the shady undergrowth.

You can earn from telling these stories too. If you write for Risk and Glory you get a chance to earn our new token – The Bil. The more people who read your story, the more tokens you earn. Send me 800 words of your story to me at

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Read, learn, think, discuss and change for the better. Reading Risk and Glory could change your story– enjoy!


Chris Bishop, Founding Editor, Billionaire Tomorrow.