Pietermaritzburg-born businesswoman Wendy Nwankwo is proof of how a combination of perseverance, wit, hard work and the ability to recognise opportunities is very much the key to success when pursuing your career goals.
Growing up in Sobantu Township, Wendy didn’t necessarily think she would be an entrepreneur but rather had her eyes set on completing her studies and finding traditional employment. Her plans were halted during her first year of university when her father was retrenched, leaving her little choice but to seek full time employment so she could support the family.
A year later she was able to return to tertiary education and completed a B-Tech Diploma in Management from the Durban University of Technology. She also completed her postgraduate diploma in management, specialising in monitoring and evaluation from the University of Witwatersrand. However, it was completing her MBA at the University of KwaZulu-Natal that sparked her interest in entrepreneurship.
This mother and wife wanted the flexibility of being able to balance both her career and family, so starting her own business seemed like the obvious decision. Wendy founded The Living Collective, a full service self-catering accommodation rental company with properties in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. Her company offers a unique selection of modern and luxury homes and apartments catering to clients with medium- and short-term leasing needs.
“I saw a gap in the market to offer clients a sense of property ownership without the financial burden that goes with it. My own personal experience of struggling to find accommodation that offers short-term rentals in the Midlands when my family and I moved from Durban to Pietermaritzburg inspired me to start The Living Collective,” Wendy says.
The Living Collective has properties in a tranquil estate called The Gates in Hilton, which offers guests a sophisticated experience on the countryside. They also have 24 apartments in Pietermaritzburg that mostly cater to professionals.
With the business quickly gaining popularity for its unique offering, Wendy appreciates the journey and admits that it didn’t happen overnight. “It’s important to be patient with yourself when growing as an entrepreneur. Success doesn’t come overnight. I feel it’s also important for businesswomen to pave the way for others to participate in industries or spaces that are male-dominated. Know that you will fail, but don’t be discouraged. Get up and start again,” she concludes.