Ask any successful business person and they will tell you that diligent work and keeping an eagle eye out for opportunities has played a major role in their success. It isn’t easy to get started, much less get-ahead, but thankfully we have some amazing examples of driven individuals that made the most of what they had to make the most of it and create positive change.
Here’s three inspiring individuals who used what they had (which was very little) to create a real difference both for themselves and in the world. Each in their own totally unique way!
From Disadvantaged to Building a Multi-Million-Dollar Enterprise: Herman Mashaba
Herman Mashaba is an original South African rags-to-riches success story.
He grew up in the Gauteng province in a small town about 30kms from Pretoria under the oppressive Apartheid regime. His opportunities were scarce and required extraordinary focus, consistent work and sacrifice to change his circumstances. As a child, his mother supported the family by working as a ‘domestic employee’ and thus paid the high price of being away from her family – as a result so Herman was raised by his sisters.
Herman did things his own way and was highly-driven. He was thrilled to get a bursary that paired money from his brother-in-law allowed him enough finance to attend university. Poor marks in Afrikaans language class took away his plan to study law and then his dreams of being a political scientist were shattered when during the second year of university, class was cut short and students given only six hours to leave the premise. He returned to his township without a bright future, having neither education nor work experience. He began to work a series of jobs (including one at Spar) and soon realized he had more ambition than to be content simply selling products for someone else. In 1984 he came up with the idea of a unique cosmetic’s line made by, and for Africans that catered to what they wanted in hair-&-body products. In 1985 at the young age of 22 Herman was able to build his own manufacturing plant.
From the beginning, Herman’s brand “Black Like Me’ was a tremendous success. ‘Black Like Me’ grew into a multi-million dollar enterprise and is still thriving today.
Mr. Mashaba is now involved in international business and in South African politics, being elected as Mayor of Johannesburg in 2016.
Check out this thought-provoking interview to hear Herman explain his life and becoming a successful entrepreneur in his own words here.
War Refugee to Nobel Peace Prize Winner: Leymah Gbowee
Leymah Roberta Gbowee is a remarkable African woman from central Liberia. She was awarded a Nobel Peace prize in 2011 for her role in leading a mass women’s movement.
Leymah’s life has been far from easy but at every turn in the road she has sought to make more from the meagre opportunities that have been presented to her. One example of this is the way she took advantage of free trainings offered by Non-Government Organizations such as UNICEF. In order to better her chances of being accepted to study further she volunteered to work without pay within the Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Program. This willingness to make the most of any opportunity until the next door opened paved the way for her integral globally-recognized peace work.
Leymah has survived two civil wars, homelessness, extreme poverty, harrowing violence perpetrated by her partner, and an alcohol addiction that nearly took her life. Deciding to place a high value on education she determinedly sought more. She fought hard for her own liberation, her children’s future, and for the end of the armed struggle in her homeland.
Gain insight into Gbowee’s inspiring life in the documentary entitled “Pray the Devil Back to Hell”. She has received a multitude of esteemed international awards and recognition for her commitment to peace, equality, and the challenging work of peace building. Leymah has overcome tremendous hardship to fight for peace and the dignity of human life. She’s is a true hero among us.
From an Idea to becoming an International Sensation
Newly divorced, single mom J.K. Rowling was experiencing tough times. Jobless with an infant daughter to care for she began to write down in earnest the story idea that had come to her while she was waiting for a delayed train. At that time, she had no way of knowing how the world would react to her created characters and how it would transform her life.
Using the power of her imagination and a pen she transformed her life and created a wonderful world of magic for readers around the world. It is to be noted that her 1st book was rejected by multiple publishers, however, she continued her efforts. The tales of Harry Potter have become an international sensation showing that ingenuity, valuing your own creativity, and perseverance can have a big pay off! J.K. Rowling went from on welfare to being a multi-millionaire.
Love Inspiration? We do!
- Check out this Gauteng Township Entrepreneur who has come a long way with determination.
- Major disrupters whose ideas have changed the world
- South African stories of entrepreneurs who have gained renown for their creative thinking.
Be Inspired & Start your Future with #PotentialUnleashed Tech from Prestigio.