HARD work and determination brought the newly appointed chief executive of the Uitenhage Despatch Development Initiative (UDDI) to where she is today.
Patricia Dlamini believes in instilling these values in her children, Pumelele, 11, and Lwandle, 16, just as her mother taught her when she was growing up in Swaziland.
While her mother woke up at three every morning to bake sweet buns, Patricia and her six siblings would wake up two hours later at five to sell the buns at the bus stop close to their house, before getting ready for school.
People would buy the buns for lunch on their way to work.
Today, she and her six siblings all have tertiary qualifications.
“I am no less because I had to sell buns before school.
“I value people who work hard. I like opportunities to make an impact in the development space and am passionate about small enterprise development,” Dlamini said.
Having been in small business development since the 1990s, Dlamini has worked at the Durban Technology Hub and The Innovation Hub in Gauteng before moving to the Eastern Cape in 2010.
“My children love the sea and we enjoy the quality of life here in the Eastern Cape.
“More importantly, the province needs more resources to develop the rural areas and this is where the country has the biggest need for social economic upliftment. This is where I can make a difference,” Dlamini, who still commutes between Port Elizabeth and East London, says.
She is relocating at the end of the year, when Lwandle and Pumelele finish their academic year.
Only two weeks into the job, Dlamini knows exactly what she wants to achieve going forward with the UDDI and is committed to making this happen.
Because the Uitenhage- Despatch area is so reliant on the fluctuating automotive sector and its value chain, Dlamini says the UDDI’s role is to assist in creating small businesses that can sustain themselves.
This is done through the UDDI’s agricultural hubs, recycling projects, as well as the Science and Technology Centre – where a love of marketable enterprises and careers in industry is introduced to students visiting the centre.
“At the moment we have three major programmes, which are town enhancement, enterprise development and creating spatial economic linkages between Uitenhage and Despatch. I see my role at the UDDI as helping to create an eco-system that will lead to economic development for the area through the entire value chain,” Dlamini said.
The UDDI is the implementing tool of the Mandela Bay Metro, and Dlamini says it is her task to source other funding to grow its project portfolio even further.
One of the projects she hopes to start is an enterprise hub that offers incubation services in multi-sector technologies to the unemployed youth in the area.
“I would also like to develop the heritage and tourism sites in the area, like in Springs and Langa for example, to create a tourism area that can also become a part of our school tours,” Dlamini said.
She likes to give back to the community in various ways and enjoys acting as a mentor to other women in business, and sits on various boards.
Last year Dlamini was one of the top three most influential women in information and communications technology in the CEO Magazine’s awards for SA’s most influential women in business and government.
She was also a finalist in the Business Women Association’s regional achievers awards in the corporate category in 2011.
The go-getter is also in her final year of her MBA at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s Business School, which she says has given her a “helicopter view” of being a well-rounded leader in business.