With a father who supported six children through his electrification business and chain of liquor stores, and farming grandparents, Mikateko Holeni-Mdhluli developed a strong work ethic. “My grandmother had a market stall where she sold farm produce and her special vetkoek,” she says.

“When I was just seven, she’d send me to the market to sell stock alone. My upbringing inspired me to have my own business, become independent and empower my community.”

After attaining her Honours in quantity surveying from the University of Port Elizabeth, Holeni-Mdhluli briefly went the corporate route, but knew she was destined for greater things. Armed with her degree and her passion for property development, she took the plunge and started her first business at the age of 24.

The business journey

“I started off in 2002 with Ntwaleng, a property development firm that still operates,” she says. “I’ve dedicated the past seven years to building houses for the less fortunate in Mpumalanga and Gauteng – giving our people access to living decently and in dignity.”

While she funded the venture through a small-scale partnership with her cousin, the capital-intensive nature of construction and property development forced Holeni-Mdhluli to consider other options.

“I decided to revert to what I know best – quantity surveying, which led to the birth of Zethu Consulting Services (ZCS) in 2004, a firm with in-house professional expertise in project management, quantity surveying, architecture and engineering.”