Thapelo EmmanuelBy Thapelo Emmanuel|August 2, 2022|4 Minutes|In Risk & Glory League

Risk and Glory

From shared toilets and evictions to an MBA and thriving business.

I was raised in a shack by a single mother who sold maize meals and peanuts for living. My whole community and I shared three  pit toilets, which were three  streets away from my house.

My mum knew she could not afford to take me to university, yet she never allowed our financial situation to dictate our future. With only R150 that she could afford she encouraged me to go to university to apply for admission for BSc in Chemistry from University of Pretoria.


University life was hard, traveling to classes very early in the morning and leaving very late after practical. Being sneaked in to my friend’s university residence because of being stranded at night, when transport to come home was no longer available.

Being kicked out of an accommodation because of overdue rent just when I thought I had a break though of no longer worrying about traveling. Despite the challenges, I always had the support of family, former teachers, lecturers, friends and church. Through perseverance and persistence I found a sponsor for my tuition and eventually completed my BSc Chemistry and my Honours in Chemistry.


I joined an FMGC company as a graduate and eventually climbed up the ladder to become their first Go to Market Quality Specialist. It is at this space where I learned about manufacturing, quality management, warehousing, logistics and retail. Despite being employed I still saw my dream of building myself and my family a proper house with proper sanitation. This was still a dream too far at this stage.

When my employer and I parted ways, I took all my savings and poured it into  towards building and growing my company.


Today I am a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) candidate that owns and runs two companies. A cleaning and maintenance company, Square 15, which uses the application of chemistry towards solving cleaning and maintenance issues. The company provides these services to property management companies such as Broll, City Property and Excellerate JHI. It also provides services to construction companies such as WBHO and Arch stone. Square 15 is currently incubated by Fortress and Property Point.


The second company is a cosmetics company called Venus Meets Mars. A hair care and skin care manufacturing company that uses natural ingredients such as essential oils, herbs and extracts to solve skin care and hair care problems. The company is currently incubated by Chemin, a leading incubator when it comes to chemical manufacturing acceleration programs. Venus Meets Mars plays an essential role when it comes to development of school kids coming from disadvantaged backgrounds by donating sanitary pads and implementing other effective long-lasting interventions. Venus Meets Mars products are currently sold at retails platforms such as Takealot and Makro while negotiations with other big retailers to have products listed are still other way.

I am not where I want to be yet as an entrepreneur, but I am a long way from a three street walk to shared pit toilets and I vow to plough my success into improving the lives of my people.

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