From domestic worker to high flying businesswoman

Lindiwe Shibambo who has made business out of her own domestic worker experience by launching Maid4U claimed the top award in the inaugural Gauteng region Shanduka Black Umbrellas (SBU) Enterprise Development (ED) Awards.

Maid4U claimed the top position in the categories of Jobs Created and Best Performing Company (based on profit generated and net asset value). Billy Radebe of Executive Endleleni was named Best SBU Ambassador.

SBU, the non-profit business incubation programme – this month launched its debut Enterprise Development (ED) Awards to reward and acknowledge those businesses in its programme which are making a difference and creating employment. SBU is an initiative of Cyril Ramaphosa’s investment vehicle Shanduka.

Shibambo’s first job in 1997, after completing matric, was working as a domestic worker in Pretoria for R70 a month. She later continued her studies at technikon and Unisa. She was working at a bank when she decided to start Maid4U.

Shibambo sources domestics and then runs both qualification and background checks as well as providing training. She says: “We help find work for domestics which has put bread on the table for many families. I often tell the women I deal with not to despair because they can still make something of their lives. I came from a poor background but I had options. Poverty was never glued to my back and I chose to seek better opportunities.”

Shibambo is delighted to be a positive role model: “As black professionals we have
grown up in the townships and when we start doing well we move to the suburbs. There’s nothing wrong with that but we don’t often come back and say ‘I was born here. I had the same challenges and I made it’.”

Radebe’s transport company Executive Endleleni, which provides chauffeuring services, has been in operation for five years and continues to go from strength to strength. Radebe graduated from SBU in 2012.

He’s come a long way from the 10-year-old who left Lesotho after his parents died to try and find his family in South Africa. He was rejected by his paternal family and in 1988 found himself living at the Moroka Police Station in Soweto and then on the streets as a homeless young man.

“My message to anyone reading my story is to never give up hope. You have to believe in yourself. You can do it, no matter how tough things are. Good things can happen to anyone. Being homeless is not a life sentence. Instead it was a life university which taught me to separate wolves from a flock of sheep.”

SBU CEO Mark Frankel said “South Africa desperately needs those individuals who have what it takes to create and establish a sustainable business to choose the path of entrepreneurship. It is an incredibly difficult journey to undertake and hard for anyone who has not done so to understand the challenges one has to face and the sacrifices required. The ED Awards provide an opportunity to acknowledge the bravery and determination of our clients within the SBU incubators, express our gratitude for choosing SBU as their business development partner, and celebrate their achievements in the time they have been with us.”

Regional awards also take place this month in Cape Town, Durban and Pretoria.

The national awards take place at the Montecasino Pivot Conference Centre in Johannesburg on February 27.

  • I am short of words a big but Lindie you are a star! I watched your story on ENCA today and I was so impressed to see a woman rising to the top like that. I wish all women should realize that hard work pays and we should be proud of our efforts. I am one woman who is proud of acknowledging another woman’s progress in this competitive world. God bless you and wish u countless blessings

    matlhodi mahupela (Botswana)

  • Sibongile molefe

    Hi Lindiwe ,its amazing to read such stories about women like you because you give us hope and strength not to give up in life,i hope you still remember me i came looking for a job then you offered me a chance to help other women in my community but i couldnt because i didnt find an office that you wanted to rent for me,even today im still looking even though its tough i hope you wont give up on women like me.

  • Sibongile molefe

    Hi Lindiwe im not sure where to start because your’ such an amazing person. You bring hope and strength to us as young women coming from a child headed family ,when i feel like hope is gone i always go to your website and just read about you and gain the strength to go on in life no matter the circumstances i may be in,i hope that you would find time to read this,and i hope that you still remember me i came to you looking for a job because you are so kind you offered me a chance to help the women in my community but i couldn’t because you gave me a task to look for an office that you can rent for me and im still struggling even today ,but i pray every day that you dont give up on me.

  • Good day

    Kindly provide me with Lindiwe Shibambo’s contact details. A colleague of mine urgently needs a nanny and she has submitted an application to Lindiwe’s Agency but is not getting assistance. She would like to speak to Lindiwe directly.

    Your assistance will be highly appreciated

    Kind regards

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