Every December before their family trip to Mozambique, Bertha Sithole and her siblings would harvest the maize on their family farm in Mbabane, Eswatini.
“I never liked farming or agriculture,” Bertha says, “but we made it our mission to finish harvesting the crops quickly so we could spend as much time as possible in Mozambique.”
“On the way there, my father would buy us fried chicken and soft drinks,” Bertha says. “The trip was five hours, but it always just flew by; being together was an awesome feeling.”
Bertha, now a 2019 Mandela Washington Fellow, director of Startup Grind’s Mbabane chapter, and founder of the public relations firm Kuanza Dreams, is working to help young entrepreneurs promote their products and build their communities.
Bertha’s approach is a regimented one. Every day, the young entrepreneur wakes up at 5 a.m. to go to yoga class before having breakfast and starting her work.
“I’ve always kept myself busy,” Bertha says. “I was the child who made money on the weekends at 16, who was the vice captain of the volleyball team, and who was always looking for new ways to make a difference in my community.”
“In school, bullies would call me names because I was tall and slim,” Bertha says. “But I was so busy with other activities that I didn’t have time to dwell on their insults.”
Bertha’s early determination plays out in her current work, where she plans workshops, boot camps and other sessions to empower and educate young leaders throughout the capital. Among the most popular is a monthly series featuring successful local founders, educators and investors who share their advice on starting and growing a new business.
One challenge Bertha has faced over the years is finding funding for her business, especially when, as she explains, “investors don’t understand the value of marketing.”
To counter this, Bertha has taken to social media to promote her work and reach a new audience.
For Bertha, her resilience is grounded in a deep spirituality, one based on love and perseverance even in the face of obstacles.
“You have to begin with the end in mind,” Bertha says. “And believe that you can make a meaningful change.”
Discussing her vision for the future, Bertha reflects on one of her favorite memories.
“It was my graduation in 2017 with a public relations degree,” Bertha says. “I remember my parents screaming from the audience — they were so proud of me. It was a priceless moment.”
When asked what an inspiring leader looks like, Bertha answers simply, “Me.”
It’s that boldness of spirit that colors Bertha’s story. That, and a tireless work ethic.
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