As a young girl, Cordelia Masher would sit under her mother's sewing table trying to craft something out of the cut-off material. Today, this ambitious entrepreneur is carving her niche in the business world by helping home-owners, estate agents and banks make their properties more 'saleable' through minor tweaks.
Now Masher, an MBA graduate and owner of Cohesion Property Solutions, is ready to take her business to the next level after finishing a Women's Entrepreneur Development Programme (WEDP) designed to nurture and build skills needed to grow her business.
"I realised a while ago that there are several simple things a house seller can do to get a better selling price in the current under-valued market," said Ms Masher. "Business has been really good, but I wasn’t sure how to grow until I went on the WEDP course, where I not only shared ideas and learned a lot from my peers, but got some great guidance from small business experts."
The journey for Ms Masher and 9 other female entrepreneurs started in February this year with the WEDP, which was developed by Microsoft South Africa and Business Engage.
"We live in a country marginalised in so many aspects and on so many fronts. No longer is access to education, skills training and employment opportunities a sure measure of success for a small business owner: in today's technologically advanced world, we need entirely new skill sets," said Microsoft South Africa Marketing and Operation Director, Melanie Botha.
"We have noticed a trend in the last few years where women have become the early adopters of modern technology in their homes and in their work life. We figured if we use the willingness of female entrepreneurs to increase their confidence in this area, it can only bear fruit for the future sustainability of their business."
Colleen Larsen, CEO of Business Engage (previously known as Women in Finance) says the 10 graduates were selected from a pool of applications from female business owners, who had to motivate why they believed their business was ready to grow.
"The successful 10 entrepreneurs run businesses as diverse as business consulting services, media production, technology and property solutions. As part of the course, they participated in a one-day Action My Business Growth workshop, as well as an intensive one-week Expand Your Business workshop," said Ms Larsen.
"All 10 ladies are now ready to take their businesses to greater heights."
Ms Masher feels the sky is the limit. “Graduating from the WEDP means I have the tools to leave my comfort zone and take my 'house doctoring' business to the next level. I can start putting my expansion plans into action to reach measurable targets to become the leader in home-staging and cosmetic improvements in South Africa," she said.