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Name: Tanya Kisten

Business: Khanyisela College, skill development classes 

Industry: Coaching & ConsultingOther — Skills Development 

Location: Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Reason for starting: I was frustrated with the fact that I could only execute other people’s decisions at a big corporation I was working at, despite the fact that I thought that I had a better way of doing things. The idea that I could create my own culture and success was appealing, and I took the plunge, despite the fact that everyone – including my husband – thought I was making a big mistake.

Related: Read about another female entrepreneur working in the field of education here.

How do you define success? Success, for me, is creating an environment for almost twenty staff members who enjoy what they do, enjoy coming to work and are committed to Khanyisela College. I don’t come to work- I live my passion, which I cherish every day.

Biggest Success: I won the Regional Business Achiever’s Award in the Entrepreneur category in 2009, two years after starting this business, as well as the Africa Growth Institute Service Excellence award in the same year. That was when I started to believe that I might just be doing things right.

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it? Currently, my key challenge is sales. Selling skills development to people in a climate where needs are just about being covered by meagre salaries, makes this a hard sell. On the other hand, the challenge becomes gratifying when we can connect corporates and government with people who want to uplift themselves and we can ignite partnerships which lead to people becoming gainfully employed and increased sense of self-worth.

Related: 8 Tips for Getting Over That Negative Voice in Your Head

Who is your most important role model? Of course, our beloved Nelson Mandela, who I had the privilege of meeting in 1992, is where I draw my main sense of ethics and guidance on how to deal with people. I also am inspired by local business women who are not afraid to excel and be successful, despite great odds.


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Edited by The Story Exchange