An industry leader- Vuyo’s funerals

On this special edition of our women’s month cover story, we sit down with one of the most influential women in business, a woman who has broken many barriers to build one of the most successful brands in South Africa, Vuyo’s funerals, we talk to Nkateko Mabindisa.

Carob Magazine Africa: Who is Nkateko Mabindisa? Where were you born and how was it like growing up?

Nkateko: First and foremost, Nkateko Mabindisa is a child of God. I am a wife, a mother and a partner in many businesses. I was born in Johannesburg and raised in Soweto Protea North until I was 8 or 9. We then moved to Weltevreden Park with my family. I have always been a hustler from my teenage years, I waitressed and did promotions at some point I was popularly known as the “custard girl” because for a long time I did in-store promotions for custard. (Laughs)

Carob Magazine Africa: You have a very strong academic background what made you go into business?
Nkateko: I am a qualified accountant, from early on I knew I wasn’t going to get far without an education, after working a few regular jobs, I registered myself for a degree in Accounting. After I completed my studies, I still had a challenge of placing myself into a job that would align with my purpose. I worked for banks and engineering companies but my first formal job doing what I’m qualified for was with Tipfocus.
Later on, I moved to Real people. During that time, my husband had already had the business, it was a generational business, the third generation with him. The business was still struggling and as a result we both had to keep day jobs.
One day I decided that, look, basically what I am doing at Real People is all the things that I could implement at Vuyo’s funerals and see where that takes us. At first my husband was very reluctant, he was like, no we can’t work together we are going to fight…well I said …We have nothing to lose, let’s give it six months, if it doesn’t work out, I will go back to corporate, well to say the least, the rest is history…

Carob Magazine Africa: Tell us about your role at Vuyo funerals?

Nkateko: I am an Executive member at Vuyo’s funerals. My role has evolved quite a lot. When I first got to Vuyo’s it was just a staff compliment of 5 people! This is the time that I had to roll up my sleeves and work hard. It was Vuyo, me and just our three employees, a driver, a mortician and an admin lady… As I mentioned things weren’t great, we were not even making money at the time. When I came in initially, I had to figure out what we can do differently. We needed to come up with innovative ways to run this business. I asked myself, what can set us apart from the rest? We were clear on the fact that we didn’t want to be dealing with cash. We introduced cashless policies at the time when it was unheard of! We brought in a structure and developed processes so that once the business is stable, we can be able to expand. I did that for quite some time and once the business was stable, we were able to open our second branch and we got people who fit into a system that is already there. My husband Vuyo ran the financial services and I did the actual funerals, I did everything in funerals, I did pick-ups, removals, I dressed and drove hearses…

Carob Magazine Africa: What do you attribute the growth of Vuyo’s funerals to?
Nkateko: Being innovative and understanding our customers…It is very important as a business to understand what your clients want, don’t just make assumptions like, I’m just going to just sell them this… Also understand the community that you serve. I honestly think that has been our biggest contributor, being in touch with the needs of those that we serve – our community. We are not just running a business, we understand that Vuyo’s funerals need to service and benefit the people of the communities that we work in, for an example, when we go into a new area, we make sure that we employ the people from that area. Through the Vuyo’s pride foundation we do our outmost best to give back to the community, we sponsor the education of matric leaners who do well, we assist in restoring dignity in any way that we can for the people in our communities.

Carob Magazine Africa: Tell us a bit about your involvement at BX cosmetics, what is BX cosmetics and what does it offer?

Nkateko: I am a partner at Bx cosmetics, how I met the founder Is actually very interesting… When we moved into our new home, my kids obviously made friends with other kids in the area and my son made friends with this particular child. One day while I was at work, I got a text from this boy’s mother, she introduced herself as Junior’s mother and asked if we could meet for coffee. We met and I was actually inspired by her story, she had just landed a contract with Dis-chem but because of the Covid and the restrictions her business took a knock. I instantly knew that I wanted to be a partner in this kind of business because I could relate with her story. The business has grown so much since inception, and we are working tirelessly to grow it into a household brand.

Carob Magazine Africa: What Inspires you as a person?
Nkateko: Growth, seeing people finding their purpose and transforming their lives…. Before I quit my job at Real People I had already identified with my purpose and I made decisions that propelled me in the right direction…I had a small car at the time and decided that no…This car is not making money for me…I bought an Executive car and on weekends I used to go to different undertakers and ask if can drive hearses…It was me and this other lady, she used to drive family cars and I drove hearses, at the time it was still very uncommon in Soweto.

Carob Magazine Africa: Here at Carob Magazine, we celebrate the finest of Africa, as one of Africa’s finest, we would like to know, what is your dream for our continent?
Nkateko: We need to come into a true understanding of who we are as African people, I dream of a Africa that understands that we are the wealthiest and most knowledgeable people in the world and use that to our advantage.
What breaks my heart is seeing many Africans struggling and as much as I can say I dream of a Africa where everybody is equal, it is something that we need to achievement as a collective. We have to treat each other with respect and dignity.
I dream of a Africa where nobody is discriminated against because of their gender, I dream of a Africa where education is free and everybody is given an equal opportunity to learn…

Carob Magazine Africa: Where do you see Vuyo’s funerals in 5 years from now?
Nkateko: Having a much bigger footprint in the SADAC region but most importantly I would like to see Vuyo’s funerals impact the lives of our people at a much larger scale, through education and employment opportunities that we offer. I would like to see lives being transformed; dreams being realized because we are a business for people!

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11 months ago

Congratulations Mrs Mabindisa 🎊 👏 💐

Great to hear about your journey 👋 and Happy Women’s month

Mervyn Moloto
Mervyn Moloto
11 months ago

Such an inspirational and humble article. Congratulations Mbokodo,true example of hard work yields positive outcomes but most importantly God is in control.#Pride

Brian Sithole
11 months ago

Great Article and hope to meet and talk to her.

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