Motherhood is a full-time job on its own. Running a business while being a mother at the same time, is a task that only a Superwoman is able to handle. I sat down with a vibrant, energetic and hard-working, mother of three, “Mompreneur”, Ms Tuduetso Tebape, to understand what it all takes. Tuduetso is the woman behind the natural beauty product brand Nubian Seed. I also have the insider scoop, she is after all my sister.
How long have you been an entrepreneur?
The question, ‘When did you become an entrepreneur?’ is one that I often find difficult to answer. In the beginning of Nubian Seed, it definitely wasn’t something that I would say. I never thought, “Oh, I want to become an entrepreneur.”
In fact, one of my favourite things about how both I and the business have developed is how organically it has grown. It started off as a cottage industry. We started off selling Shea Butter and later on African Black Soap. Slowly other products developed from there. I would track it as far back as 2014. In 2016, we finally registered the business. What I do with this business, as cliché as it sounds, is an expression of passion.
Last year, I signed up for a lot of acceleration and entrepreneurship programs. That helped to boost my confidence and allow me to say, “Yes, I am an entrepreneur, but I am still learning. I am still growing.”
What were your fears when you decided to become a full-time entrepreneur?
Economic insecurity was definitely a real fear. It continues to be one, even to this day. But I am pushing through that fear, trying to hold on to the belief and faith that, the business which I am growing into is legitimate. I’m also a mom of three, all school going, under 11 years old.
Even to this day, there are times when I call my fellow entrepreneur friends and say,
‘I don’t know if I’ve taken too big of a sacrifice and if I’ve sacrificed too much for this dream’.
Another fear was that being a good business person. Like, can I really do this? Am I even good enough to explore and pursue this?”
What are the major differences that you felt, aside from access to a monthly income, when you became an entrepreneur?
Self-directed planning. When you’re working in a work environment, there is a greater strategy in place that you fit within somewhere. So, as the managing director of business, it’s all up to you. You are the one steering the ship, goal setting. Where the business goes is one hundred percent dependent on where you take it.
So, planning, the importance of goal setting and getting those milestones. I’m not there yet, one hundred percent but more and more I am forced to be. Everything is in your power. I also believe that God can’t bless what you are not intentionally putting effort towards.
People often glamourize entrepreneurship. Occasionally they talk down on others who have chosen to stay in their 9-5 jobs. What is your take?
I live by the saying live and let live. There is no blanket solution for the path to success. I don’t believe that at all. So, with that in mind, don’t believe that the only way to success is through entrepreneurship. I see why those who are all about it, believe that because the opportunities are endless. I haven’t thrived within the boundaries of a formal employment situation so this is why I’ve chosen this path.
Also, seeing the effort that I was putting into Nubian Seed made me think that this is where my destiny lies. I am still open to something that will bring in a steady income, but not full-time. I can definitely recognize that there are benefits on both sides.
What words of advice would you give your children, if they decided that they wanted to become entrepreneurs?
I put all the effort in because I know they’re watching me. The success that I get out of Nubian Seed will teach them that you need only dream it, work for it, and then you can be it. So, words of advice that I would give to my children if they wish to follow a path of entrepreneurship would be, “Go for it.” I would tell them to have a plan, but don’t wait for that plan to be perfect.
Also, be open to ways in which you can continue to take care of your responsibilities while you are chasing this dream. To believe in themselves and to believe in their dream. Lastly not to depend on other people’s validation for them to believe in their own dream.
Do you take your children along with you when you have to sell products at markets, shops etc.? What have they learned from you?
Yes, I do because they are watching me work. Ten years from now when my business has grown, the kids will have the memory of seeing me doing all the hard work. Then being able to say that they remember where it all started. I run errands with them. Or even when I’m manufacturing and labelling products I ask them for help. This way they are able to see what goes into being an entrepreneur.
How important is it for mothers to have a strong support system when deciding to become entrepreneurs?
It’s very important, generally. I am grateful for my family. Last year I travelled to countries far and wide. The support from my family and my children’s father was the reason why I was able to go to these places.
There is also emotional and social support from other women who are mothers and entrepreneurs. I don’t thrive well when trying to do something alone. So, I am trying to have like-minded people around me as well.
What are the dreams you have for your business?
I have so many dreams for Nubian Seed. The green beauty industry is something that is growing. It should stay on the trajectory of growth with green business. I would like it to grow and for us to be able to source these products in Botswana. I dream of the business creating employment in Botswana, too. I want it to be the most recognized green beauty business both here and internationally. I want it to impact the economy in Botswana through employment. To also help me achieve my own personal goals and responsibilities.
What words of advice do you have for any mothers who are also with you on this journey? And for mothers who are thinking of becoming entrepreneurs themselves?
Go for it. And do it in a way that makes you feel your best. Have people in your life who understand what you’re doing. Have like-minded people in your life. Have people who will keep you on track and give good advice. You also need friends who will give you space, are compassionate and understand the limitations on your time and schedule.
For more information on Nubian Seed have a look at our listing.
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I am writing a book on African innovation and would like to mention Nubian Seed in the book. Would it be possible for you to send me a high resolution digital image of you with some of your products, about 300 dpi, 4 MB? I would appreciate this.