Kutlwano Hutamo (34)

2018 Mail & Guardian 200 Young South Africans

Business & Entrepreneurship

Kutlwano Hutamo (34)

Director at Washesha Online

Kutlwano Hutamo’s love for learning and education one of the reasons why she is a successful entrepreneur. She has an MBA from GIBS business school, an MSc in veterinary sciences as well as a BSc honours in genetics. However, her path to success has not been an easy one.

“I am the first in my family to go to university, and the first time I saw my mother cry, actually, was when I matriculated. My mom was so overcome with emotion because I had had so many challenges that year and I still managed to pass with flying colours.”

Hutamo, a solitary creature by heart, grew up wanting to be a lab scientist. After enrolling for chemical engineering on the advice of a career counsellor, she quickly converted to biological sciences after seeing that the engineering course was full of physics and calculus courses — not biology. This saw her gain work experience and pursue a law degree and an MBA before finally taking the entrepreneurial leap.

“Washesha” means to hurry up and to have a sense of urgency, and it is the ethos behind this term that informs how the organisation prioritises the customer above everything else. Hutamo is deliberate about using black suppliers for her business, as she believes that the inclusion of black people in value chains that previously excluded them in is a matter of social justice.

“Entrepreneurship is about learning new stuff everyday, learning about health and safety standards, about machinery, about people management.”

Although optimistic about the potential of young people to go out and create opportunities, she admits that the position of women in our society is troubling. “Reading the news as a woman is depressing. Women are not safe in the streets, and in some cases, they are not safe in the house. The mental work of always having to fight for visibility as a woman can be draining.”

There is no doubt that Washesha will continue to garner a following of loyal clients who keep coming back due to the exceptional product offering and customer experience. — Lesley Stones

Twitter: @washesha_grocer