Conquering the Poverty of the Mind by Rita Zwane


‘When you see a township resident driving past in their new car, and they wave, and you wave back, it is extremely gratifying to know that they built their chakalaka business based on the small contract you gave them ten years previously, and now they have expanded and provide other companies with products, because they were able to seize the opportunity you offered to them and developed it. – MaZwane

MaZwane has become a legend in South Africa as a pioneering entrepreneur – and an inspiration for those who ask questions about opportunities in the informal township economy.

Her answer to those who doubt whether they can make it, is that you do it through perseverance, sacrifice, seizing opportunities, and offering superior products and service.

In 1989 Phumlaphi (‘Rita’) Zwane left KwaZulu-Natal to find work in Johannesburg after becoming a teenage mother. She could count on the love of her family, a matric certificate and her faith, but had no job prospects, and no knowledge of the business world or life in the big cities.

Her memoir takes the reader from the tough times of finding her feet in Johannesburg, through a variety of jobs and life experiences, to finally fighting her way to success as a respected member of the township economy and starting the successful Imbizo Shisanyama business.

MaZwane tells how she progressed from having virtually no income or permanent home to becoming the first person to formalise and commercialise shisanyama in the townships – and provide a comfortable home and legacy for her children.

Along the way, she befriended many people who contributed accommodation, job opportunities, advice, and companionship. With them cheering her on, she learned how to navigate the different and difficult aspects of the hospitality industry – and slowly reach her desired place of independent security.

Conquering the Poverty of the Mind – From Shipping Container to BUSY CORNER shows the true grit of a Zulu girl who believed in herself – and did it against all odds.

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