On this week’s episode of Marketplace Africa, CNN International’s Zain Asher meets Xoliswa Daku, CEO of Daku Group Companies to learn more about her journey to success.
Daku tells the programme how she began her career as a lawyer before moving into property development: “As a young woman, I think I was one of the strong lawyers at the time and I was spotted by one of the big shot firms [who wanted] me to join them and in that process I found an opportunity to join the Western Cape Investment and Trade Promotion Agency. It was a totally different environment.”
It was from this transition that Daku realised her ambition to start Daku Group Companies: “The spirit of entrepreneurship was then born. I opened a business and I resigned from normal employment. I think initially it was just finding myself within the bigger space of business. [Property development] just got my attention. And I loved it and I’ve never looked back.”
She explains how she overcame her fear of failure and developed a willingness to take risks as she started her business: “There are two types of business people: The business women, and then [there are] entrepreneurs, people that are coming up with solutions, who are prepared to take anything out of their pocket and invest that into their own businesses and grow those businesses to become global businesses. I think I became that type where I worked with big conglomerate businesses and I found that it was too much. So, I decided to move out of the bigger solutions and come up with those investments and invest it into establishing my own, formidable development company.”
Daku describes the moment she realised she was successful
“The biggest challenge with the black child is underestimating your potential in most cases because you’ve grown to be known as not being able or capable to achieve or, to a certain level, less than others. When I had to turn around the business, I actually knew the level of influence that I had. And that actually showcased how I’ve been doing over the past years. With the first recognition as the top woman in property by Standard Bank, it actually dawned on me that, you know what, what you have been achieving financially and business-wise, people recognise it. People appreciate it.”
When discussing what she hopes her legacy will be, Daku says she hopes more women will be encouraged to follow in her footsteps. She explains: “More than anything else, it’s to actually find more women participating, not only in the property sector. In most cases, when women get to the top they actually don’t see others excelling in the same level as them. I want to see more women recognised, that are able to build conglomerates on their own.”
She outlines how she would get women, especially black women, to move beyond competing and to instead assist each other in the workplace: “We need to say that it’s not about you, it’s about the whole nation of women who are educated, who are able to also grow. And you must spot potential. One of the problems that we have is actually not picking up potential. We need to actually see that potential as it grows through the mentorship programmes that we’re creating, whether it’s in business or politics, or in any other form.”