Tshepiso Phosa – an overcomer, an inspiration, and a success
Tshepiso Phosa’s many and varied roles in life and business are a clear reflection of her passion for education, her commitment to sharing her knowledge and resources, her excellent business acumen, and her fighting spirit as a champion for gender equality. She is an overcomer who has risen to great heights as an entrepreneur, director, and philanthropist.
Tshepiso, age 28, is also the inspiration behind a newly published book called Fuelling Futures, From Influence to Impact, co-authored by Timothy Maurice Webster, brain & brand expert. In her young life she has experienced and survived being raped, physically abusive relationships, severe depression, and at her lowest moment she tried to take her own life. The book relates Tshepiso’s story that proves that reverse role play is possible and that all women can come back from gender-related attacks, and it serves as a handbook to open conversations and navigate narratives on how to bounce back from social injustice.
Daughter of Dr Mathews Phosa, former premier of Mpumalanga and member of the ANC National Executive Committee, and Pinky Phosa, businesswoman and political activist, Tshepiso grew up in Nelspruit in Mpumalanga, and matriculated from Uplands College in 2009. She studied at Varsity College Pretoria for a BCom Degree in Business Management for two years and then changed direction to complete a Higher Certificate in Events Management, which she passed with eight distinctions and came second in her class. She says her father taught her one of her most important life lessons – that education is your only wealth and that it is the one thing that no one can take away from you as an individual.
Tshepiso’s business career started at Brent Oil in Irene during her university vacations and then in 2015, she joined Mathews Phosa & Associates consultancy as a junior administrative manager. Later that year she identified an opportunity to invest in a petrol station on the main Gauteng-Maputo route, Brent Oil N4, which was renamed Milviforce Puma Nelspruit N4. After extensive training, she became the proud owner and hands-on manager of her own business in September 2015.
Operating in a traditionally male-dominated industry motivated Tshepiso to push herself harder and in the first few months of operation, she exceeded the highest record for litres sold on her site since 1999. Her business philosophy is based on the belief that, “You shouldn’t ask someone to do something you cannot do yourself and you need to lead by example.”
Tshepiso sold Milviforce Puma in October 2018 and, having a sound foundation in the fuel industry, is now involved in the wholesaling sector, dealing with neighbouring countries.
Tshepiso is also a director of Mathews Phosa & Associates, responsible for four portfolios; an active board member of MobiGo Solutions, which specialises in top-end technological training material and facilities; and a director of Lowveld Coffee Distribution, distributing and financing coffee machines. In 2018 Tshepiso was appointed as the first female executive on the board of directors of the Steval Pumas Rugby Union, now the iCollege Pumas.
As an active philanthropist, Tshepiso believes that every child in South Africa deserves to be educated and protected. In 2015 she adopted the Kungumusa Community Care Base in Tekwane outside Nelspruit, where she provided weekly food parcels, and the Woodhouse Community Care Base Centre orphanage in Mataffin. Through Milviforce, she provided food and entertainment for the 169 children who are accommodated, and funded the building of a library. Tshepiso has also volunteered at Curro Meridian School in Karino where she established a programme to equip matriculants with lifeskills to prepare them for life after school, and is involved in the Mrs Mpumalanga programme, supporting the finalists with business direction, sponsorships, and various projects.
Having overcome major challenges and gender-biased experiences in her life, Tshepiso’s sights are set on success, for herself and for other women and marginalised youth. She says, “We live in an unpredictable world with the next generation struggling to get a grip on their purpose and existence. Their future is often unclear and it is important to be ready and willing to make a difference. My future is wrapped up in my ability to fuel my dreams and I choose to be a vessel for transformation in this lop-sided world.”