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The University Drop Out Who Built A Beauty Business

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Nompumelelo (Mpoomy) Ledwaba is the darling of social media. In a mere 12 months, she has grown her Instagram following to close to 100,000.

The 24-year-old was first introduced to the media-crazy masses when she married South African Idols finalist and recording artist, Brenden Praise (Ledwaba). It intrigued thousands and generated quick clicks, likes and follows. She is today an influencer in her own right.

It is a warm Friday afternoon in Melville, a hip suburb in Johannesburg, South Africa, when we meet Mpoomy and Brenden at their nail and coffee bar located on the bustling 7th Street. The salon is packed with women getting their nails done for the weekend. The room is painted grey and decorated in white and spurts of pink and yellow.

Stars such as Mapaseka Koetle-Nyokong, Mmatema Moremi, Jessica Nkosi and Thickleeyonce come here for nail pampering.

This is a world away from where it all began in Middelburg, a farming and industrial town in eastern South Africa where Mpoomy was born. She moved to Johannesburg to study accounting at the University of Johannesburg (UJ). In her second year, she took on a job as a banker at Investec to pave the way for a career in corporate.

“It was a busy year. I worked from 4PM until midnight or from midnight till 8AM. In between, I had classes to attend. It was fun at first until I got bored and frustrated,” says Mpoomy.

It marked the beginning of a journey that broke and built her.

First, she quit her job.

“I didn’t diagnose it as depression but now because I understand what depression is, I know it could have been that,” she says.

Then, she did something no one thought she would.

It was in one of UJ’s exam halls where she was scheduled to take her finance exam. On this day, she says she was well-prepared. The examiner gave students 10 minutes reading time before the exam started. During this time, students plan their answers to the questions but Mpoomy says she was planning a business.

“When the examiner said ‘you may start’, I hadn’t read through the exam questions. I tried to page through it but I just couldn’t start. I stood up and I left the room and I never went back,” she says.

READ MORE: The Man In The Beauty Business

It was a brave move. She had no money, no experience and she knew her parents would not be impressed.

“I went home to my parents immediately. I think my mom knew this could happen. She wasn’t shocked but she was hurt… My dad was upset. I stayed home for a day and my mom told me to go back to Johannesburg to write my exam and I refused but still went back to Johannesburg.”

Her father cut her off financially. It was time for Mpoomy to fend for herself. The road to entrepreneurship was cold, lonely and frustrating.

“I didn’t even ask my dad why he wasn’t sending me money anymore. I knew I had lost the right to do so because I had decided to be an adult by making that decision. He didn’t owe me anything. I was hurt and upset but I’m grateful that happened because it gave me the push to hustle. I even tried to borrow R10,000 ($703) from my mother to do a nail course and she refused,” she says.

Although the plan was not clear and everyone around her said she was making a mistake, Mpoomy says she had faith her dream to open a nail business would one day come true.

“I spent my days crying and praying. It was a tough time. I knew I had made the right decision but everyone and everything around me tried to break me,” she says.

According to Mpoomy, Brenden, her then boyfriend and now husband, is the only one who shared the same faith.

“He was there with me all the way no matter what. He supported me and told me everything will be ok,” says the now-pregnant Mpoomy.

While trying to find her way, she joined a modeling agency. Her first job was a billboard and a TV advert that paid her R22,000 ($1,546). Following in her father’s footsteps, she invested it in a cleaning business.

“My dad’s business started as a cleaning company. He was a hustler trying to figure things out. Now, he manufactures various cleaning products and has a safety line…one day, when I was home, my mom was reading a magazine and came across an article that listed 10 businesses that require no startup capital and she showed it to me and I knew I had to start,” says Mpoomy.

She made a flier of her new-born cleaning business and posted it on WhatsApp groups. She found her first customers. She ran it for a year until she had to clean client homes herself.

“In December, all my helpers went home for the holidays and I had to clean for our clients. It was tough and I learned you can’t start a business in something you don’t know or you are not passionate about,” she says.

In January 2017, she got married and Brenden gave her R15,000 ($1,054) to go to nail school.

“He had just paid lobola and we had just gotten married which didn’t come cheap and now he had just invested in my education. Although my fees were paid, we didn’t have money for transport. At our wedding, someone gave us an envelope with R2,000 ($140) and that is what we used,” says Mpoomy, her eyes watering.

Life got tougher.

“We sacrificed everything we had to get started. We had financial problems at the time. It was the first year of our marriage and we had so many things to do. We just worried about getting through the day. I remember there was one time I didn’t know if we were going to have food for the rest of the month,” she says.

After three months, she was ready to get working experience but no one would hire her. She then mounted a poster on her car advertising her services and started a mobile nail salon.

“I did my nails every three days. We would go to a restaurant every week because they have a lunch special for R50 ($3) that comes with unlimited wifi. We would download videos so I learned how to be better.”

The mobile salon grew and she started making about R1,000 ($70) a day. She knew it was time to grow, open a shop and employ staff. With the help of a mentor, she opened Aneno Nail & Coffee Bar.

Mphoomy Ledwaba. Photo by Motlabana Monnakgotla

“A week before our opening, I asked a family friend, who is a celebrity, to help me by coming to my nail bar and have her nails done for free and advertise on social media so I can get clients, but she undermined me. I could tell from the way she looked at me. She told me she works with big brands…I was hurt but I understood that you don’t need anyone to make something successful. God is the one who makes things happen.”

Today, she employs six people and plans to get into the hair industry, create a nail product line and then franchise the business. This is definitely not the last time you hear about this small-town girl with big dreams.

Current Affairs

The Happiest Companies To Work For In 2018

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Companies that keep employees happy aren’t just helping their workers—they’re helping themselves, since satisfied workers are more productive. In fact, a mutual fund that invests in companies with positive workplace ratings, Parnassus Endeavor, has beaten the market handily over the past 10 years.

What are the organizations with the happiest employees? Careers site CareerBliss launched its eighth-annual list of the happiest companies in America. It surveyed tens of thousands of workers and asked them to rate their employers on ten key factors, such as their relationship with management, workplace environment, compensation, satisfaction with job function and growth opportunities.

To see the top 10 happiest companies to work for, open the gallery below. For the full list of 50, see the end of this article.

Keller Williams Realty takes the top spot. The Austin, Texas company has 175,000 agents across more than 900 metro areas and claims to be the world’s largest real estate franchise by agent count. A Keller Williams Realty employee wrote on CareerBliss.com, “One of the greatest benefits is how our company promotes from within. All employees are encouraged and supported to be in control of their growth and career paths.”

Sneaker king Nike ranks second. It remains one of the most valuable brands in the world, and it’s navigating a big transition as more consumers shop online. In June it announced its “NIKE Direct” initiative—the company is trying to sell more of its products directly to consumers through its website and own stores, rather than rely on traditional retailers like Foot Locker.

Adobe is the fourth happiest company, according to CareerBliss. The Silicon Valley tech giant invented PDFs and launched them 1993. It claims PDFs have led to a 91% reduction in environmental impact and 90% cost savings when compared with paper-based processes. And Adobe’s Photoshop software is used by 90% of creative professionals. “The atmosphere is highly collaborative and energizing. People have always been friendly and helpful; very professional,” wrote one employee on CareerBliss.com.

Pharmaceutical giant Amgen ranks fifth. Arthritis drug Enbrel is its top-selling product, bringing in nearly $6 billion in sales last year. “The work-life balance is great, fantastic daycare on campus, lots of smart co-workers,” wrote one CareerBliss reviewer. “Working for Amgen was very rewarding to see the positive impact we made in patients’ lives,” reported a West Coast employee.

Full List: The Happiest Companies to Work for in 2018

  1. Keller Williams Realty
  2. Nike
  3. Total Quality Logistics
  4. Adobe
  5. Amgen
  6. Chevron
  7. Intuit
  8. Bristol-Myers Squibb
  9. PNC Financial Services Group
  10. TruGreen
  11. CIGNA
  12. Starbucks
  13. Apple
  14. Quicken Loans
  15. Leidos
  16. Qualcomm
  17. iGATE
  18. The Vanguard Group
  19. Citrix Systems
  20. Kaiser Permanente
  21. Chase
  22. Pfizer
  23. Fidelity Investments
  24. American Income Life Insurance Company
  25. Blue Cross Blue Shield Association
  26. American Express
  27. GE Capital
  28. Merck
  29. American Airlines
  30. Microsoft
  31. Cisco Systems
  32. Nordstrom
  33. Exxon Mobil
  34. Alcatel-Lucent
  35. CenturyLink
  36. Bank of America
  37. The Walt Disney Company
  38. Wells Fargo
  39. Oracle
  40. Citigroup
  41. Broadcom
  42. Farmers Insurance Group of Companies
  43. DirecTV
  44. Dell
  45. Symantec
  46. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company
  47. ABC News
  48. CareFusion
  49. Spectrum
  50. Verizon Communications
    – Jeff Kauflin

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Jeff Bezos, World’s Richest Person, Announces Divorce After 25 Years Of Marriage

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Jeff Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, will divorce after 25 years of marriage, the couple announced on Wednesday morning. They did not provide a reason for their separation. 

“We have decided to divorce and continue our shared lives as friends,” they said in the statement, which was posted to Jeff Bezos’ Twitter page. “If we had known we would separate after 25 years, we would do it all again.”

Bezos, worth an estimated $136.2 billion, is the richest person in the world. It is not yet clear how the divorce will impact his net worth, or whether it will affect his stake in Amazon, the e-commerce giant he founded in 1994. Bezos, 54, owns roughly 16% of the business, which comprises more than 95% of his fortune. He also owns the Washington Post and rocket company Blue Origin.

The couple lives primarily in Washington State, which requires divorcing spouses to equitably divide “community property,” including all income generated during a marriage. “It seems very likely, if not 100% a certainty, that whatever Jeff Bezos has earned at Amazon has been community income,” says David Starks, a partner at the Seattle-based law firm McKinley Irvin. He added, however, that through a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, “You can elect to have your assets treated differently, and that’s not uncommon.”

Moreover, “Awarding a spouse their share of a community asset doesn’t necessarily mean actually transferring the asset to them,” notes Virginia Onu, an attorney based in Washington. In other words, instead of selling or transferring Amazon shares, Jeff Bezos could offer monetary compensation equivalent to the shares’ fair market value.

If MacKenzie Bezos, 48, does indeed receive half of her husband’s assets, she would be worth more than $68 billion, making her the fifth-richest person in the world. Even a 1% payout would constitute one of the largest divorce settlements in history.

The Bezoses, who have four children, both attended Princeton but met after graduation while working at investment firm D.E. Shaw; she was an associate on his team. They married in 1993 and moved to Seattle in 1994, the same year Amazon was founded.

MacKenzie Bezos boasts a successful career in her own right. A creative writing major at Princeton (she served as a research assistant to Toni Morrison), she won the American Book Award for her first novel, The Testing of Luther Albright, published in 2005. She also founded the anti-bullying organization Bystander Revolution.

A representative for Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Noah Kirsch
Forbes Staff
I mainly cover global wealth and entrepreneurs.

Angel Au-Yeung contributed reporting. 

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Human trafficking worsens in conflict zones as militants deploy slaves – UN

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Human trafficking is becoming more “horrific” in conflict zones, where armed groups keep women as sex slaves and use child soldiers to spread fear, the United Nations said on Monday, warning of widespread impunity.

From girls forced to wed to boys made to cook and clean, militants are using trafficking as a tool to boost their control in areas where the rule of law is weak, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said in a report.

The use of children as soldiers and suicide bombers in nations such as Colombia and Nigeria, and the sexual enslavement of Yazidi women by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, have grabbed headlines and sparked global anger in recent years.

Yet police and prosecutors are often not equipped to deal with the recruitment and exploitation of children by extremist groups – while global convictions of traffickers remain very low – according to the UNODC’s annual report on human trafficking.

“Trafficking is found in connection with most armed conflicts,” said Yury Fedotov, executive director of the UNODC. “In situations characterized by violence, brutality and coercion, traffickers can operate with even greater impunity.”

“Child soldiers, forced labor, sexual slavery – human trafficking has taken on horrific dimensions as armed groups and terrorists use it to spread fear and gain victims to offer as incentives to recruit new fighters,” he said in a statement.

Fedotov said the award of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize to Nadia Murad – a former Islamic State sex slave turned Yazidi activist and U.N. ambassador – was an “important recognition” and urged the world to stop the use of rape as a weapon of war.

The UNODC’s report said that while countries are finding more victims – mostly women trafficked for sex – and convicting more traffickers, the total number of convictions remained very low in many nations – especially in Africa and the Middle East.

“In some countries … there appears to be hardly any risk for traffickers to face justice,” the report said.

About 40 million people worldwide are living as slaves – trapped in forced labor or forced marriages – according to a landmark estimate by Australian rights group the Walk Free Foundation and the U.N. International Labor Organization (ILO).

Yet campaigners say more and better data is needed to track progress in pursuit of a U.N. target of ending modern slavery and human trafficking by 2030 as many victims around the world – including child soldiers – are going uncounted.

Saudi woman fleeing family to remain in Thailand

“Sound information and a solid base of evidence for our policies are two of the most important things to fight this disgusting crime in the most efficient way possible,” Karin Kneissl, Austria’s foreign minister, said at the report launch.

“We simply need to know what it actually is we are dealing with,” she added. -Reuters

– Kieran Guilbert

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