Wednesday 28 August 2013

Inspirational Woman: We Talk To Totsie Memela-Khambule

This August we have been focusing on Women’s Month, and this week we speak to Totsie Memela-Khambule, the CEO of Eduloan. Totsie is involved with several other projects including being the chairperson of Memela Pratt and Associates, director of Cadiz, the leading merger and acquisitions firm in South Africa and director to International Partnerships for Microbiocides (IPM) – a research non-governmental organisation that specialises in HIV/AIDS prevention for women.

In her private capacity, Totsie mentors young leaders through the International Women’s Forum’s fellowship program and participates in forums that give disadvantaged communities opportunities.

Here is a snapshot of the five minutes we spent with Totsie:

Q: How did your education shape your future?
A: I grew up in a working class family, my mother was a domestic worker and my father was a gardener. My parents taught me that an education can change one’s life, that it will get me out of poverty and make me independent.

Q: Who is your inspiration?
A: My mother has always been a great inspiration to me. Although she never had a formal education, she always had an inquisitive mind, asking a lot of questions to find out how things work and what they are. My other inspiration is Osceola Macarthy, who saved a few pennies to give underprivileged people the opportunity to achieve more by establishing a scholarship fund for students of colour.

Q: What are some of the difficulties that you had to overcome to get to where you are?
A: Some of the difficulties includes thinking you are not good enough, doubting yourself and allowing yourself to think that your past defines your future. I had to learn that only you can define your future and not to overlook the present.

Q: You are involved with several projects – how do you find the inspiration to continue contributing to and influencing such a diverse range of projects and people?
A: Understanding the role of a leader is important, you have to realise that you have a bigger responsibility. Serving others is important, whether it is intellectual, physical or financial amongst others. You have to treat everyone in the same manner.

Q: What advice would you give South African youth?
A: Realise that you are not entitled to anything and that you have to think differently and independently. Have an inquiring mind. Give meaning to your life by having gratitude and giving of yourself and serving others.

“Maya Angelou said that although people might forget what you said, they will never forget how it made you feel.” Totsie Memela-Khambule, CEO of Eduloan.

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