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From car boot sales to the Oprah Academy: Ouma Tema pursues her dream

Published Apr 15, 2022

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From a struggling entrepreneur, selling clothes out of the boot of her car to supplying the Oprah Winfrey academy with gear for their graduation, Ouma Tema has shown that through tenacity and endurance you can make your entrepreneurial dreams come true.

What grew out of a necessity to find clothing to fit her more voluptuous figure has 11 years later grown into a fully fledged business making waves in the plus size industry.

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Having struggled to find clothing to fit her more voluptuous figure, Tema decided she needed to be the change she wanted to see in the world. And so, over a decade ago, she established Plus-Fab, her own fashion brand, which initially operated from the boot of her car and her garage at home.

Today Plus-Fab has a fully-fledged production factory that employs 16 people and sells in 10 major malls across the country. Recently she has also reshaped the structure of her business to cater to more corporate organisations.

Before the 2021 Engen Pitch & Polish competition, Ouma had never entered anything like it. Having seen an advert about the competition on social media, Ouma was initially hesitant about entering. Eventually, the possibility of winning the first prize valued at R1 million was what made up her mind.

“I was really trying my luck . . . Look at me now!” she laughs, referring to the fact that she has seen off the competition in her group and secured a spot in the semi-final round.

After her first pitch in the competition, the judges raised concerns about the lack of tracking in her business. Having no systems in place, Ouma did not know how much stock she had, how much her products cost her to make, or even how much profit she was making.

For this reason, Ouma believes that the real prize for her and her business has been the comprehensive learning and business guidance (mentorship) programme which forms part of the new digital format of the competition.

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“I looked forward to every session with my business mentor because I was able to leave the competition a much better entrepreneur with a clearer vision of the future of my business. He was amazing, so kind and smart. Learning from him was truly a blessing. I wish I could have taken him home” she jokes.

She describes her ENGEN Pitch & Polish experience as educational, motivating and eye-opening. She goes on to say the entire experience has helped her to pause and re-imagine her business. “I look at my business differently now. I have implemented a few systems which help me get a clearer picture of my business.”

When asked for her advice to future contestants, Ouma promptly says, “If it’s the prize money you are looking for, please don’t enter. If you want to learn and grow your business to greater heights, enter!”

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