Share Their Story

Charmaine Lehabe, 27

Entrepreneur and private chef
The Squared Experience

Charmaine Lehabe qualified as a chef from Capsicum Culinary Studio and is a co-founder of The Squared Experience, a company that creates a private fine-dining experience at your home for you and your guests.
Working in an industry that is notoriously tough, and one that has been hit particularly hard by Covid-19, she says almost giving up on her business at the peak of the pandemic would have been one of her biggest mistakes. But moments like winning business awards from YFM and Sunlight give Lehabe the confidence boost to know she is on the right track.
Through her work and business, Lehabe hopes to have a positive impact on how people are remunerated and how they approach their work. “Through my work, young chefs should be able to realise that to be great, one doesn’t need to work for someone else, because greatness starts within oneself,” she says.

Know that your dreams are valid, no matter how hard you have to work to make them a reality.

Author - Shereen Goosen
Sinothando Adonisi, 29

Sinothando Adonisi, 29

Senior associate – research specialist

Sinothando Adonisi is a senior associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). His role as a research specialist sees him focus on analysing and collecting data to ensure PwC has the necessary information to make informed decisions regarding its strategic direction.
Adonisi obtained his BTech in tourism management from Walter Sisulu University before he changed career paths. He has, in the past, been mentioned in the Destinations International 30 Under 30 programme. In the history of this acclaimed programme, he is the second African to achieve this honour and he sees it as his proudest moment.
His drive to excel stems from building a foundation for his family members, namely his brothers and daughter, to follow their dreams. A gleaming example of circumstances not determining an individual’s future, Adonisi wants his family to have the necessary tools to achieve their dreams, which he didn’t have while he was growing up.

My advice to myself would be to tell myself to believe more and not let my circumstances deter me from dreaming big and acting on my dreams.

Louise Bell |
Lerato Mahlaela, 31

Lerato Mahlaela, 31

Founder and chief executive
RS Travel Group

Lerato Mahlaela did not anticipate that she would one day be the founder and chief executive of a successful travel company. Taking the leap into entrepreneurship defied an expectation that, like many other graduates, she would be seeking employment. But it didn’t happen that way for Mahlaela.
Offering travel solutions for business and individual clients, Mahlaela founded RS Travel Group to employ herself and create employment for others. Today, she runs its day-to-day operations and, in spite of limited resources, she is making it work by constantly seeking growth opportunities and relieving her customers of the slog of travel admin.
Mahlaela and co-founder Raymond Kekana are currently RS Travel’s only employees, with a view to employing other full-time staffers in the near future. The company has managed to survive despite a lack of funding and not qualifying for subsidies. Mahlaela and Kekana have often had to fund the business from their own pockets.

I’m driven by a goal to create the best version of myself while breaking a poverty chain in my family.

Sandiso Ngubane |
Dineo Zonke Maduna, 33

Dineo Zonke Maduna, 33

Dineo Zonke Travel

Dineo Zonke Maduna is passionate about promoting Mpumalanga as a tourist destination. She has been featured on CNN, BBC and eNCA as the founder of Dineo Zonke Travel. An avid traveller herself, Maduna offers travel consultations and curates group trips to Mpumalanga, Tugela Falls, Cape Town and Zanzibar.
In 2019, she reached one of her travel goals: to visit 30 countries before her 30th birthday. She says travelling has taught her about her capabilities and weaknesses, and she believes others can find joy in it too. Her goal is to see more South Africans travelling our country and the world.
She would also like to see the travel, tourism and hospitality industry becoming more innovative through the use of social media to encourage South Africans to explore the country. “You will never be 100% ready to start any business, but it’s important to start. Be willing to learn, ask questions and make sacrifices,” she says.

It is important to just start because the possibilities are endless.

Neo Khanyile |
Afrika Mdolomba, 31

Afrika Mdolomba, 31

Chief travel officer
Travel With Afrika

After transitioning from a professional career in media and journalism to tourism, Afrika Mdolomba surprised himself with how quickly he adapted. “Many of the skills I accumulated during my time in the media industry are coming to good use in the tourism industry too,” he says.
Founder and chief travel officer at Travel With Afrika, Mdolomba’s company transcends traditional travel agencies. “Thanks to us, our clients are getting their first passport stamps,” Afrika explains, “being on a plane for the first time, seeing the ocean for the first time. We’re exposing Africans to experiences.”
A well-travelled career as a journalist saw Mdolomba visit more than 20 countries and now he wants others to enjoy the experience of travelling. “I’d like to see more young black Africans exposed to tourism. People travel and learn more about the world and, ultimately, themselves,” he says.

Start early to travel as far and wide as you possibly can.

Nabeel Allie |
Andile Sikhakhane, 28

Andile Sikhakhane, 28

Private chef
Chef Scott

Andile Sikhakhane is Chef Scott, a Durban-based pioneering private chef who’s cooked for many of South Africa’s elite. Internationally trained, he’s travelled extensively for work which, he says, broadened his culinary horizons and helped him develop his skills. To reach new clients, Sikhakhane creates culinary experiences, and has partnered with some impressive names such as Glenfiddich, Remy Martin and Graham Beck when hosting food and beverage pairings.
Sikhakhane is still humbled when people speak highly of him — whether it’s a student or one of his previous lecturers — a testament to his hard-working nature. “Being a chef requires a lot of patience, dedication and passion,” he says. “I see a lot of student chefs want to become private chefs right away, but it’s important for the younger ones to understand that everything happens in its time. You need to keep learning and unlearn certain things to grow in the industry.”

Ignore the noise, focus on the goal and vision.

Ncumisa Lerato Kunana |