Tabisa Kiyane started the domestic agency, Zeelema Domestic Solutions with the mindset of “cleanliness is next to Godliness”. Pulling along this mindset, Zeelema has grown from agency, to recruiting, training and specialised cleaning facility effectively wiping away all competition. Starting with a love of the environment, Zeelema not only contributes to the economy, it does so in an eco-friendly way.
Tabisa started with humble beginnings in rural Eastern Cape in the small village of Mceula. As her mother worked as a domestic worker in Johannesburg, Tabisa and her five siblings were taken care of by her grandmother. “My grandmother believed believed in me so much, that every time I feel discouraged I remember how she would have been disappointed if I didn’t see things through.” This support structure spurred Tabisa on throughout her school career to the point that she matriculated top of her class, winning every award in the district. It wasn’t just her academic capabilities, however that attracted attention. Realising in school that her family was a bit more poverty-stricken than the rest of the kids in her class, Tabisa started selling biscuits and Russians to her teachers which afforded her to be able to dress in trendy clothes. Although Tabisa was able to fund these few expenses with her small venture in school, she couldn’t scrape enough money together to go to university, but that didn’t slow her down in the slightest. “My refusal to accept the situation and the determination to find the solution is what pushed me to be who I am today.” After school Tabisa moved out of the Eastern Cape and started selling various products working on a commission. Seeing a need in the market for well-trained domestic staff, Tabisa had an artillery of selling experience behind her as she took the plunge with Zeelema Domestic Solutions.
“I believe cleanliness is next to Godliness and that it has a direct impact on our health and optimum productivity in our lives. I also experienced first-hand through my mother the challenges that domestic workers go through.” With no resources, Tabisa started Zeelema and in the beginning did all the cleaning herself. Today she boasts of a team of well-trained cleaners, a supervisor and a multitude of trained domestic workers placed in sustainable employment. “Being an enrepreneur means long working hours and continuous research on your offerings and your market. It means that you are first in the office, and also the last to leave. But there is a great thrill in building a business from scratch and see it become a vehicle to create employment and empower the masses.”
After another MEDO graduate recommended Tabisa join the team, she was selected for our recent BT/ISUZU/Rennies Supplier Development programme. “I learnt how to develop a business model which includes profiling my customer, identifying problems, finding solutions, finding an unique value proposition, identifying marketing and distribution channels, developing a cost structure and identifying revenue streams. I then also learnt how to turn my business into a brand, doing financial reporting and the art of networking with potential investors.”
In ten years Tabisa sees Zeelema becoming a recognisable brand of choice for those who care about good quality and the environment. In addition to training and placements, Zeelema only uses eco-friendly cleaning materials that they produce themselves. “I have extensive experience in cleaning and I have grown to appreciate clean surroundings. My love for the environment made it an easy choice for me because cleanliness contributes positively to our environment.”
“I am powerful beyond measure and I am in charge of my destiny,” Tabisa proudly states. She sees Zeelema shaping South Africa in the long-run by creating jobs for those without skills and formal education as well as contributing to the environment by using eco-friendly products. Tabisa is indeed in charge of her own destiny by refusing that life dictate itself onto her, and that makes her an incredibly powerful entrepreneur to watch out for.