Siphokazi Thiam, the owner of La Teranga Accommodation and Conference Group in Kokstad, was a clothing vendor before becoming a well-known tourism entrepreneur.
The bubbly female was all smiles at this year’s KZN Lilizela Tourism Awards last Thursday when she took home the Emerging Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
She won the same award in 2016.
La Teranga, a 3-star graded establishment on the boundary between KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, was started in 2009.
She has since opened four properties and hopes to broaden her horizons to other provinces in the country.
On her award, she said: “I am so excited to take home this award for the second time,” she said. “It is a testament of all the hard work that we have put in over the years.”
Thiam started the establishment with just three bedrooms after seeing the need for accommodation in Kokstad.
She said there were many travellers and contract workers who needed accommodation.
“Operating a small business is always difficult, but with hard work, the business grew with every challenge,” she said.
Besides slaying the business world, Thiam is big on social development.
She founded the Rural Tourism Development of South Africa initiative this year, which aims to inspire people to start their own tourism businesses.
When asked where she saw herself in 5 years, she wanted to open a hotel group.
“There are many opportunities in the rural areas as many tourists want something new and authentic. I am passionate about developing a hotel group that caters to these demands,” said Thiam.