While celebrity entrepreneurs are nothing new, Ayanda Thabethe had a different start – she was in business before achieving the level of fame she currently enjoys.
Thabethe is a model, TV personality and brand ambassador for Ponds South Africa, and haircare range Mizani.
In 2016 she made her television debut, appearing on the South African soap opera Rockville, and as a presenter for the lifestyle show, Top Billing, in 2017.
What many won’t know is that Thabethe has a long history as a successful entrepreneur. She has experience running various businesses, ranging from a brand management company and a beauty salon, to a foundation supporting other entrepreneurs.
In an interview with Kasi Biz she says her early career in marketing is what inspired her to become an entrepreneur. Thabethe worked as brand manager for L’oreal South Africa.
“I have a marketing background from the University of Pretoria and have taken up some senior sales roles at a number of reputable pharmaceutical companies. My eventual experience as a marketer for L’Oreal South Africa possibly played the greatest influence in me establishing [the] businesses. It was a natural progression having been exposed to so much knowledge and resources in that space,” she says.
Thabethe in the same interview shares that fame has its advantages and disadvantages when it comes to running a business.
“It is much easier to start a business conversation when people recognise who you are. Of course there will be skeptics who question your intellectual range and ability to perform. It is how you navigate the polarities,” she says.
She is also not immune to the challenges that all entrepreneurs face, she says.
“It is tough gaining the trust of clients as a new entrant and as an entrepreneur; one needs to find outlets to sustain cash flow when the chips are down. Fortunately I have had the luck of balancing my business ventures with freelance work opportunities in modeling and television.”
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Want to know more about Ayanda Thabethe the businesswoman? Find out about her 3 business ventures.
In 2015, Thabethe alongside co-founder Athini Qeja, launched the marketing agency Buzzworthy Productions. The company specialises in events and brand activations, creative strategy and brand design, as well as outdoor media buying. Thabethe is the managing director of the company.
The agency’s client list includes Nestle, L’Oreal South Africa, Tsogo Sun, and Denel Aviation, to name a few.
Liyanda Hair Salon
Thabethe launched Liyanda together with business partner, Lindelwa Nkambule, a business unit manager at Mizani earlier this year. The hair salon was launched as a space for women not only to do “their hair and nails, but also spend time with their friends”, Thabethe said in an interview with People Magazine.
The salon is based in Melrose, Johannesburg. The name Liyanda is a combination of Ayanda and Lindelwa’s name, according to the same article.
In an interview with Power FM, Thabethe says what sets Liyanda apart is the level of service they offer.
“Our main focus is service and making sure every customer that walks in leaves 100% satisfied and comes back,” she says.
The African Emancipation Foundation
Thabethe is also a social entrepreneur. On her website, Thabethe states that she is one of the founders of a non-profit organisation, African Emancipation Foundation, which has worked with the likes of Standard Bank and Wits Business School. They provide advice and mentoring to entrepreneurs.