Alice MpholoBy Alice Mpholo|June 9, 2021|9 Minutes|In Billionaire Tomorrow

Billionaire Tomorrow

“Africans must speak up and ask for those funds!”

Her business closed down; a setback that pushed Nokuthula Ndlovu back to the drawing board to redesign and rebuild. It proved her saviour.

Starting a business is hard. It is risky, uncertain and there are few holidays.

Nokuthula Ndlovu went through it all when she set up Projectized Management, a consultancy for software and digital solutions.

It was a roller coaster from the first day in 2008 and the business was moribund just two years later. Yet, like a phoenix from the ashes, she rose to rebuild her business.

“I see setbacks as first attempts. I go for second attempts, third or fourth,” she says.

Another chapter in a story that began when Ndlovu was born in Durban, Kwamashu, in South Africa’s KwaZulu Natal, into a loving, Christian, home, where she was surrounded by love and support. She needed all the support she could get when she set up her first company.

The company started operating in 2008, as a consulting company for State Information Technology Agency (SITA). The company had to be onboarded with another company; unfortunately, it was far from smooth sailing from day one as payments were either made late or not at all.

“It was really strenuous. We had to let people go because we would go months without getting paid by our main contractor,” she admitted. The business faltered.

In 2010, Nokuthula -, affectionately known as ‘Nokky’ – was appointed to head up IT, power and telecommunications at the FIFA World cup centre in Durban. The faltering business remained on hold until 2014 with Ndlovu returning to her corporate job as Head of department for a financial institution and handled strategic engagements in Technology for 10 countries.

Successful people rave about being open to learning when trying to improve yourself. Ndlovu shared the same philosophy, while employed, she got herself a mentor in the IT industry, whom she would meet with bimonthly. She started to network and invested in gaining more knowledge through blogs and articles on entrepreneurship development.

It wasn’t long until she rebranded, reinvented and got her first entrepreneurial development deal. She partnered with product companies such as Microsoft to create awareness around digital transformation.

She said: “I have been advocating for Zoom for a long time because of the exposure I had when I was in Silicon Valley. How will businesses continue to operate if you can’t be in the office?” This is a question that businesses world- wide faced when COVID-19 hit.

Virtual meetings instantly became the go-to and businesses either thrived or got left behind. Ndlovu admits that they too have explored diversifying their products but they have remained afloat. She said although they still have clients, there have been reductions compared to the past and scaling is a problem they continue to face.

“I see setbacks as first attempts. I go for second attempts, third or fourth.”

“Go back and negotiate, don’t just let things go.”

She revealed a system that Projectized Management recently developed in partnership with a leading software engineering company, called SARMS (South African Research Management System) which will see them venture into the academic and research industry. The system was designed to elevate the status of research by making research and researchers in the country more visible by serving as a single national repository across all institutions.

Stakeholders, both government and funders can immediately get a bird’s eye view of research in the country and this view provides decision makers with all the necessary information to make informed decisions that will ultimately contribute to the well-being of South Africa. It allows anyone with access to the internet to look for researchers or research areas and be able to have discussions with them.

“I am really excited about this because I have not worked in that industry before so this is new for me. The future is education and research. It is about building relationships and being deliberate. Building market share based on research and established through networking,” said the entrepreneur.

For any entrepreneur, it is important to understand where you can add value and expand further into that market. According to Ndlovu, there is an unbalance in business, especially female owned business. She advices women to look at companies they want to work with and ask for a meeting. She said women should be looking at the efficiencies they can bring and look for the potential to expand with technology.

“Understand that decision makers are a mix of operational and strategic influencers. Be resilient when faced with rejections and challenges; it’s business after all and business is not personal. You need to be hands-on. Communication is our strength as women so learn to utilise that strength, particularly to negotiate. Continuous learning and improvements are a must. Don’t just let things go,” she says.

She envisions being the company of choice in the public and private sectors. She hopes to groom individuals who can occupy spaces in tech and incubate other start-ups while exposing them to technology to produce companies that will operate across Africa and beyond.

 

She said that one must understand the ecosystem of start-ups abroad. Some start-ups do not think outside of their country, for example with the funds that they ask for.

“Look it could be a matter of lack of exposure which can be managed through deliberate global exposure and collaboration programmes. Africans need to learn to speak up and ask for those funds to build their business.”

Projectized Management’s mentor partnership with Microsoft and Commvault will look at digital transformation journeys and skills estate. This would include partnering with a company to do assessments in business and empower the existing work force with tools to look at the skills within and identify ways to close the skills gap.

Ndlovu wears many hats, she is a founder of Limit Breakers Global Foundation, a non-profit organisation that empowers women and young girls with access to information, networks, mentorship, and support. She is a member of the Women Leaders of the World Alumni Council in San Francisco, CMO Asia African Women Leaders Awardee, an Honouree of the Steyn City 7% Tribe, one of 4 African candidates for the Female Tech Business in Africa Programme in Berlin, an ambassador and judge of the Inspiring Fifty Awards, Premier’s Service Excellence Awards finalist in 2018 and an International Speaker on Gender Equality and Technology Enablement for women and young girls.

Picture Ref :http://projectized.co.za/Team/Nokky