Vino Govender
Durban - Growing up Vino Govender refused to burden her widowed mother with funding her tertiary education and took on a job as a cashier at a take-away to pay for her fees herself.

And despite later becoming a young widow herself, a strong-willed Govender went on to become a successful and award-winning businesswoman.

These days the Durban North single mother of one strives to empower other women, children and the aged through the non-profit organisation she started via her company, LA Consulting Engineers.

“Things were difficult for us. I worked as a cashier and enrolled at Unisa for a Bachelor of Commerce degree, which was staggered over a period of time due to the lack of finances,” said Govender, who started from humble beginnings in Eshowe.

“Nothing has come easy. Hard work and dedication has been the strong point behind my success. I have never allowed myself to sink in times when I felt not capable.”

Govender said she aligned herself with positive thinking individuals and like-minded people to uplift her.

“I swallowed my pride and ego and focused on the goals. I used my weakness to enhance my strength and never backed off from a challenge. I also accepted that despite my limitations, I still had time to grasp the moment and put my best foot forward.”

For her, survival is the key to all aspects of her life.

When she turned 19, she married her husband Reggie and together they had a son, Deon, who is now 22 and an information technology student.

But 17 years ago her life was thrown into turmoil when Reggie committed suicide.

“I was just retrenched from my job and had to deal with the trauma of losing my husband. It was just too painful. But when I looked at Deon, who was 5 at the time, I knew I had to get myself together because of him. He has been my motivation ever since.”

Govender secured a job at an accounting firm and shortly thereafter an administration position at LA Consulting Engineers, a company she now owns.

Years later, she is making strides in an industry dominated by men and has received numerous awards and accolades, including the Southern African Housing Foundation Social Housing Project of the Year 2011.

Having dealt with her husband’s suicide, Govender runs Usizo Empowerment aimed at educating teenagers on suicide and other day-to-day issues.

“In conjunction with the Ilembe Chamber, Business Women’s Association and the Claire Blaire Foundation, I run mentorship programmes for young adults, single mothers and widows, who have aspirations of starting their own businesses.”

She also started the LAV Hamper that provides families with non-perishable food items and LAV Pamper where she and her team go to old age homes to pamper and provide the aged with meals.

Govender was also a finalist for the Justice Pageant 2017 aimed at developing moral character in schools and communities.

She goes to schools weekly to ensure pupils are kept in check with the “no crime culture”.