Vino Govender, our featured entrepreneur of the week, is the managing director of the LA Consulting Engineers (Pty) Ltd – a consulting practice operating in the Built Environment. The company offers a wide range of expertise, with its primary focus on Civil Engineering Infrastructure, Project Management, and Turnkey Solutions.
As a single mother, Govender found strength and willpower to achieve so much and overcome many personal traumas for the sake of her son. She recounts her early days at the company: ‘I started off being employed as an administrator and was allowed to sit in on a strategy meeting. I was jokingly asked what my vision was for the future, and without hesitation I stood up and said that one day I would be the Managing Director. Despite being surrounded by ALL male partners and shareholders who were senior to me, I knew at that point where I wanted to be – in an industry that women, particularly Indian women, knew very little about. From that day on, I strived to fulfil that goal. It was not just a title nor was it just a job, as I became passionate and worked long hours to fulfil that dream. Many days, I made numerous sacrifices and as a single mother of a teenage boy, it became a very difficult task. As a working mother, I experienced even more demands on my time, energy and resources, and I faced gender discrimination in business and on the job. However, I worked tirelessly and overcame the many days of fatigue and disappointments to achieve my dream. The journey was long and sometimes I gave up hope but in my heart I knew where I wanted to be and that I would get there.’
When asked what it takes to become a female entrepreneur, Govender replied: ‘Survival is the key to all aspects of my life. Nothing has come easy; hard work and dedication have been behind my success. I have never allowed myself to sink in times where I felt I was not capable. I aligned myself with positive thinking and like-minded individuals to uplift me. I swallowed pride and ego, and focused on the goals. I accepted my mistakes and worked on corrections. I used my weakness to enhance my strength. I never backed off from a challenge. I accepted that, despite my limitations, I had time to grasp the moment and put my best foot forward.’
When asked what sets her apart from other female entrepreneurs, Govender replied: ‘Great leaders stand apart because of the results they get, and they achieve that because of what they do. I communicate effectively and develop a compelling vision of where I want to be.’
As for the role that women play in the South African workplace, Govender said the following: ‘Entrepreneurship is the core to building a vibrant and a sustainable SMME sector which is critical to achieving the key national development objectives of economic growth, employment creation, and equity. There is plenty of compelling evidence that women are a powerful driver of economic growth. We know that women make a significant economic contribution to African economies through their entrepreneurial activities and involvement in the labour market. Too many women still lack basic freedom as well as opportunities, and face huge inequalities in the world of work. Failure to address women’s strategic gender needs can hinder the success of female entrepreneurship in South Africa. Many initiatives for the growth of the South African economy are therefore put in place to explain the importance of gender empowerment and to reduce the inequalities which have been inherited.’
As depicted in the company’s slogan, ‘Life Africa – Changing Lives’, LA Consulting Engineers is passionate about creating sustainable development and making a real impact in surrounding communities by assisting underprivileged individuals and communities through continuous advice and service delivery. The company is on a constant quest to find avenues to assist communities, and keeps the staff up-to-date with new initiatives and opportunities to get involved in.
As an Indian woman, fulfilling a high-powered role in a predominately male industry, she was recently named the National Woman in Business Champion at the South African Small Business Awards.
Small Business Friday is brought to you by the National Small Business Chamber (NSBC) and encourages all South Africans to interact and support small business everyday; especially every Friday and even more so on Small Business Friday, the first Friday of Spring every year. This grows local communities, drives job creation and ultimately builds the nation. With your support small business will be able to employ more, therefore reducing rates of unemployment and harvesting the entrepreneurial spirit.