For business and industry in South Africa, having the peace of mind that comes from having a state-of-the-art security system in place is key. That’s where entrepreneur Ntsoaki Kortjass comes in, with her growing security business, Tsoabelo Security Solutions.
LoA chatted to founder Ntsoaki Kortjass who is building a great reputation for her growing business.
What does your company do?
We are a 100% black woman and youth owned security company that specialises in security guarding services, the installation of access control biometric systems and CCTV surveillance systems.
“I aspire to be the first black woman owned security company counted amongst the leading captains of industry in security solutions in Southern Africa and the leading provider of integrated security solutions in Africa."
What inspired you to start your company?
My purpose and commitment to creating empowering environments, and an uplifting ethos that promotes social and economic change and progress amongst previously disadvantaged people in our country.
I am a purpose driven, tenacious and very focused young woman and everything I do has always inclined me towards this cause. I was introduced to the security industry in the year 2013 when I joined a small security company as a receptionist and within a year had moved to the helm of the company. As a General Manager of the company, I quickly found my passion for protection and risk management.
Due to internal disagreements and a lack of growth perspective within the company I worked for, I identified a gap in the market for women owned security companies and saw an opportunity to challenge the status quo. I embarked on intensive research into the industry's processes, context and content, which gave me insights into the workings of a security business, and the ability to form the blueprint for my own security company which was established in January 2017.
Why should anyone use your service or product?
The core of our existence is adding value to others, this is what is most important to us and this is our purpose as a company. Unlike the large number of our industry peers, we do not exist solely to run after every government security tender. We do not exist to exploit entry level job seekers in the security industry. We do not exist in order to get "a piece of the pie". We clearly understand the value chain and critical importance of safety and security, and exist to co-create the recipe that will ensure value-added security solutions for our clients, our stakeholders and the security industry at large.
We are in a people industry serving safety and security. We intelligently use technology and people to improved perimeter security and all facets of access control to ensuring extremely high levels of reliability and service. Our clear understanding of relevant security related risks on each project site allows us to apply best security practices to ensure client assets are safe and secure. Our team makes use of intelligent applications for guidance and ensuring standard operating procedures are adhered to at all times. All events and operating procedures are captured on an incident management system, which records everything security related for review and reporting. Site-based security staff are backed up by an onsite control centre, and our hands-on management approach ensures our staff are always on site, adhering to the practices and processes devised.
“I strive to build a strong and respected brand, that makes a positive contribution to the South African economy and the security industry as a whole.”
Tell us a little about your team
We boast a team of highly competent, accredited and skilled staff who execute efficient services at all our project sites. We manage our teams through a linear structure that empowers key people to make vital decisions, alleviating the massive hierarchies normally associated with security operations.
Our management structure is divided into four key departments namely, finance department, human resources department, operations department and marketing departments. Together our team is aligned to a well thought out operational plan for each project and sufficient resources to achieve operational excellence.
Our teams on the ground are carefully selected based on our various criteria's. We train our people to embody a service heart and be prepared to serve the needs of the people they come into everyday contact with. The Tsoabelo security guards are more than just a body at the gate or someone strolling the premises. Our officers are ambassadors who have the ability to efficiently deal with everyday people and their eccentricities.
“The Tsoabelo security guards are more than just a body at the gate or someone strolling the premises. Our guards are ambassadors who have the ability to efficiently deal with everyday people and their eccentricities.”
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
I come from Matatiele in the Eastern Cape, and grew up in a family of a father, two mothers, 4 brothers and a sister. My late father, 'Ntate Patrick Thabo Kortjaas’, was a serial entrepreneur. In my early childhood he owned taxis, a butchery, a fast food café, and then sold all of those businesses to buy buses which became his core business for over 20 years.
My mother is a school teacher who also in my earlier childhood had a side business to earn an extra income, and so some of my siblings and I spent most of our childhood being raised by my grandmother, who played quite an instrumental role in shaping our childhood. While my grandmother spent her days sewing garments for church, she started a little business selling flavoured ice blocks to our neighbours with us (my brother, little sister and I), and would teach us basic money lessons. She loved board games, especially monopoly and teaching us how to apply it in the real world. So I was exposed to entrepreneurship and a strong work ethic from a very young age.
My passion to create empowering environments also stems from a very early age. My dad’s buses operated between the rural areas and town in a time when public transport between the two areas was very scarce due to distance and the gravel roads. Seeing how people struggled to get to town he decided to buy two buses (Ntsoaki's Pride and Pitso's Pride) to assist those commuting on a daily basis between Qacha's Nek and Matatiele. It was the poorest of the rural communities that commuted on these buses, most unemployed and living on grants, and some general workers who earned the most basic salary to look after their families. The biggest lesson my parents taught me during this time was to never undermine the people commuting on the bus. We were taught to value them, to thank each one who was getting off when the bus stopped (thank them in our mother tongue - Sesotho) because without even realising it, that daily or monthly ticket they bought with the little they had, contributed towards our education, our well-being, and that meant that they were in fact empowering us. So it was growing up with these invaluable lessons that taught me that in whatever I do or whichever road life leads me on, I should always value people, and always aspire to empower whereever I am able to, especially those who come from disadvantaged backgrounds.
And that is my purpose and the purpose of Tsoabelo Security Solutions. Every day is an opportunity to add value to the lives of our people, an opportunity to commit to an uplifting ethos that creates social economic change and progress amongst previously disadvantaged people, an opportunity to serve and create safe environments, and an opportunity to autograph my passion and work with excellence.
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
I aspire to be the first black woman owned security company counted amongst the leading captains of industry in security solutions in Southern Africa and the leading provider of integrated security solutions in Africa. I strive to build a strong and respected brand, that makes a positive contribution to the South African economy and the security industry as a whole.
My future plan is to reverse engineer Tsoabelo Security Solutions' massive transformative purpose and position the company in offering far more than commodity products and services designed for security, but for Tsoabelo to harness the power of technology to offer customers end-to-end security and cash solutions throughout South Africa.
“The lioness in me embarked on intensive research into the industry's processes, context and content, which gave me insights into the workings of a security business, and the ability to form the blueprint for my own security company.”
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
I get the greatest satisfaction and moment of pride knowing that I am my ancestor's wildest dreams!
Being able to wake up and create opportunities that once upon a time were considered a wild dream for a black woman to ever have the power to achieve. Being able to plant myself at the centre of my purpose, nurture my expertise and grow into a giant pioneering industry leader. Being bold enough to build and open doors for generations to come, because when the story of my life is written, it must read that I dared to disrupt the status quo and that I was fearless in pursuit of fulfilling my purpose.
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
Plant the seed of your passion and purpose. No matter how difficult it gets, nurture it daily, stay centered and focused in the joy it brings. You will grow from the strength of those roots and bloom into a beautiful, phenomenal and unstoppable queen.
Plant. Nurture. Grow.
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Why LoA loves it….
Africa needs strong, passion driven women entrepreneurs who build businesses that can contribute to the continent’s economic transformation success story, and in South Africa, Ntsoaki Kortjass is doing just that. She is providing her clients with world-class security solutions, whilst at the same time empowering her staff to build their skills and experience in this highly competitive industry sector. She is a great example to other women entrepreneurs who are looking to make their mark in tough, traditionally male-dominated industry sectors. --- Melanie Hawken, founder and ceo of Lionesses of Africa