‘Situation Forced Me To Be An Entrepreneur’

Published 6 years ago

In order to survive, Sarah Madingwana had to carry her family at a very young age. She juggled going to school and finding jobs to feed her family.

As a part-time law student at the University of Johannesburg who lived with her blind father and her younger brother in Daveyton, a township east of Johannesburg, Madingwana had to learn to pick herself up, wipe away her tears and get on with life.

“After finishing my grade 12 in 2012 at Wordsworth High School and getting a distinction in visual art, I thought it was best to start a design company called The Design Parliament Pty Ltd with the aim of making money to put food on the table for my family, as well as paying for my own university fees. No one really told me to start a business, situation forced me. I had to be the breadwinner”, says Madingwana.


The 23-year-old Madingwana owns and runs The Design Parliament, a company that specializes in fashion, fine art, photography and graphic design. She wants to expand her business into interior design.

“The company has showcased locally, as well as at the Nairobi Fashion Week in Kenya. I also received an Ekurhuleni mayoral award for the Youth Owned Business on the Move category,” she says.

Madingwana says her first year of business was really difficult, as with any new business. Capital and a strapped budget was a challenge for her. At some point, she had to get 9-to-5 jobs, save up and use her salary for her business.

“Time management also becomes a problem when you wear many hats. I have now left my 9-to-5 jobs to fully focus on building and expanding my business venture,” she says.


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Madingwana has been motivated to work hard since early childhood.

“As young people, we need to take ownership of our lives and show up with 100% effort in everything we do. With me being from a township, it’s very important to change the dynamics and narrative of what townships are known for, which is crime, drugs, teenage pregnancy, HIV/Aids, domestic violence and many other social ills.”

In 2015, Madingwana took it upon herself, with Kwandile Sikhosana, to start the Daveyton Book Club.


“We establish libraries in rural areas, townships and other disadvantaged areas. We host conferences, workshops, educational talks and train people in accredited courses and offer them employment opportunities. This is achieved through partnerships with other entrepreneurs and world leaders, to try and fix generational injustices of poverty, unemployment and other social ills,” says Madingwana.

Benefitting the community is important to Madingwana. She says entrepreneurs should not only focus on maximizing financial returns, but should also reach the people in need.

“Profits should be invested in building communities. Entrepreneurs need to find a course they are passionate about and invest in it,” she adds.

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“My family have been my biggest influences and supporters since day one, and thriving individuals like Kwandile Sikhosana who has made a huge impact in bettering disadvantaged communities and growing the township economy.”

Madingwana’s plan for the future is to build resource centers in townships, so that entrepreneurs and students don’t have to travel long distances for information and opportunities.

“I want to continue teaching young people that they can be more, that they can become people of substance – leaders and world changers.”

If they need inspiration, they need not look any further than Madingwana. – Written by Koketso Molope