Noma Nibe’s stake in Steloy Castings is only the beginning. Photo: Leon Sadiki

At first sight, Noma Nibe looks no different from any other office worker in her modest administration block at Steloy Castings in Ekandustria, outside Bronkhorstspruit, Mpumalanga.

Thulani Ntshuntshe no longer dreams of owning a fancy house in Sandton.

When Thulani Ntshuntshe was 13, he would charge the girls 50c each and run to the school tuck shop to buy food for them so they could avoid the queues. Then he would buy his own lunch from the proceeds.

Portia Mngomezulu is using African ingredients to build a business. Photo: Muntu Vilakazi

The marula trees under which she played as a little girl growing up near forests around Phalaborwa, Limpopo, now provide the magic ingredient for Portia Matshidiso Mngomezulu’s range of beauty products.

Masasa Makhetha is ready to expand. Photo: Christine Vermooten

Masasa Makhetha owns two companies that employ more than 100 people. But it wasn’t always smooth sailing for the 35-year-old.

In 1999, his matric year, Makhetha moved from Ficksburg in the Free State to the Mpumalanga town of Secunda to live with his sister. A car accident had left his policeman father unable to work and his mother was a domestic worker. The family was left to survive on their government pensions.

Lufefe Nomjana has turned his love of spinach into a growing business. Photo: Deon Raath

At the Sea Point Spar in Regent Road, Cape Town, well-heeled patrons cough up R29,99 for loaves of gluten-free spinach bread that are packaged 40km away at a small bakery in Khayelitsha.

The brainchild of Lufefe Nomjana, Espinaca Express Bakery now spans two branches housed in customised shipping containers: one placed in Khayelitsha's Spine Road; and another nearby, next to the bustling Khayelitsha Mall. 

Tebogo Macheke keeps existing clients happy and word of mouth does the rest.

Being a woman working in a technical field like renewable energy can be a lonely job, especially when you’re constantly coming up against stereotypes and ignorance. But Tebogo Macheke, who owns and manages the One Energy franchise in Limpopo, says networking with like-minded green entrepreneurs helps ease her sense of isolation – and inspires her to carry on doing what she loves.

Bantsi Sehume

Bantsi Sehume’s first entrepreneurial venture, with friends, tanked when a clothing retailer took their designs. That experience didn’t deter him.

Sifiso Ngobese

An economist by training, Sifiso Ngobese left his job as a credit risk analyst at an investment bank in Johannesburg to pursue the life of a social entrepreneur.

Sindile Hlongwane wanted to be in business since childhood. Photo: Elizabeth Sejake

Two young entrepreneurs in traditionally male-dominated industries share what they have learnt.

Ten young entrepreneurs consider the makings of their success.