TWO Port Elizabeth women have in the past 12 years grown a small partnership into a thriving legal firm, one of very few 100% black women-owned legal firms in the Eastern Cape.
Tiny Nonkwelo and Carla Fortuin are partners of Ketse Nonkwelo & Associates, and have grown their staff complement from three to 12 in recent years.
Practising civil litigation, criminal law, family law and also focusing on motor vehicle accident claims, the partners pride themselves on being a 100% black female-owned company.
“When I started the firm in 2001 with another partner, Nomvuyo Ketse, I knew it was the right time to start our own firm as black females.
“I had just finished my articles,” Nonkwelo said from her offices in Cape Road, Port Elizabeth.
Ketse left the firm in 2002 for another company and during this time Nonkwelo approached Fortuin to join the company.
Fortuin said: “We knew each other through mutual friends and I was finishing up at another Port Elizabeth legal firm.
“I thought it was a great opportunity to join the company and we have had 12 years of success.”
The firm specialised in major road accident fund claims, ranging from R3-million to R50-million, as well as divorce, maintenance and cases of family violence.
Fortuin said they had been welcomed by other colleagues in the legal fraternity.
“Being female-owned strengthens our company and acts as an encouragement to other females to start their own companies as well,” Fortuin said.
Fortuin, 42, who studied at Vista University and Nonkwelo, 40, who studied at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, are both business partners and friends, and “have had very few disagreements over the years”.
And the future plans of the company?
Nonkwelo said the partners would continue to grow the firm by taking on more cases and employing more staff, while keeping their successful partnership intact.