The State of Small Business


Failure was not an option for Nonhlanhla Dorcas Mbongwa, 43, who defied a rare medical condition to pursue a BCom degree in IT Management which she passed with 11 distinctions.

The mother of two from Newlands West, Durban, was diagnosed with Trigeminal Neuralgia – which manifests in intense facial pain – in 2014, a month after undergoing a root canal procedure.
Rather than being consumed with pity and fearing death, she enrolled with private higher education institution MANCOSA which she affirms had been most supportive during her studies which she completed while undergoing five surgeries to her jaw and brain surgery in 2018.

“Lecturers were ever willing to extend a helping hand and were available to communicate and clarify the study material while I was in hospital. It’s been an amazing and fulfilling journey.

“I never get rattled. I deal with every situation that comes my way,” said Mbongwa.

A self-confessed risk-taker, she cited her mother as her source of inspiration. She remains focused on obtaining a Master of Public Administration degree in the next two years while her long-term goal is to establish a Foundation to provide small businesses with financial assistance in an effort to tackle unemployment and stimulate job creation.

When asked about the toughest decision she’s had to make in her career she said it was fighting her superiors for justice.

“As a career woman in a man’s world, you are sometimes prone to exploitation. Never be afraid or intimidated to voice your opinions and speak your mind. Never stop chasing your dreams,” she said.

Mbongwa is currently Manager: Statistics Branch, Supply Chain Management at eThekwini Municipality where she manages the office responsible for collecting, analysing and reporting all procurement information to various committees.

She describes her leadership style as transformational. “I want to see the lives of the masses being transformed.

“Leadership skills equip you to change people’s lives in a positive way. For me, being a leader means you look around, identify problems and come up with the best solutions to resolve them.”

She finds it most rewarding when a participant from the work readiness programme which she spearheads calls to convey news of finding suitable employment. Two graduates have already been employed by Ethekwini Municipality through the programme which is growing from strength to strength.

Mbongwa starts her day at 4:30am when she enjoys quiet time in meditation before getting ready for work. The early bird starts her day in the office at 06:45am with a to-do list which keeps her on track and on deadline.

She was born in Wembezi township in Estcourt where she attended Emahhashini Primary School and Abantungwa High School. She later matriculated at Mafu High School in Bergville.

Her string of qualifications includes a national diploma in IT; and an advanced certificate in Public Administration and Management (2014) and an advanced certificate in Public Procurement and Supply Chain Management from UNISA (2008). She is currently pursuing an honours degree in Public Administration Management with MANCOSA.

On balancing, work and family she said: “It is not easy but doable. With a supportive husband and family, anything is possible. Significant social and personal adjustments are necessary to cope with such a situation.”

She said that while the glass ceiling still exists in the workplace and more needs to be done to address gender disparity, women have ample opportunities to further their studies, to lead organisations and even the country, evident in the growing numbers of businesswomen, ward councillors and mayors.

“A woman always has a heart for other people and if a woman is empowered, she is more likely to empower others.”

Mbongwa commends Dudu Khoza or “Lady Dee” of Ukhozi FM fame for her role in positively impacting people’s lives. Mbongwa is a regular speaker on the station’s Youth Ke Yona show every second Sunday where she imparts useful information to the youth to increase their employability prospects.

She enjoys travelling with her husband Skhumbuzo, their 13-year-old son Minenhle and seven-year-old daughter Elihle. She said her favourite book – Nelson Mandela’s autobiography Long Walk to Freedom – makes her value the era in which we live as South Africans.


Mzukona Mantshontsho is the founder of Nyakaza Media Solutions. Nyakaza Media Solutions is an organisation that was established to help community organisations, business entities, and schools to research, write, document, report, analyse, edit, publish newsletters or bulletins in hard-copy, on-line and maintain websites with the relevant content as per the editorial policy of that organisation, school or entity. Nyakaza Media Solutions has a vision to promote and bring dialogue to communities, businesses and schools about issues that affect them. Nyakaza Media Solutions is on a mission to develop and encourage communities, businesses and learners to celebrate the good, applaud excellence, welcome growth, strive to be better individuals, businesses and communities, want more knowledge, discourage bad and counter-productive behaviour as well as communities, businesses and learners that want to be great SOUTH AFRICANS. Nyakaza Media Solutions is making use of Yo School Magazine as a platform that learners in all schools to make use of to write their stories.

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