Meet Tiyani Majoko, co-founder of Lawgistics Legal Consultants, a law consultancy specializing in minerals & energy, environmental law, commercial law and strategy. Apart from being a qualified lawyer and business woman, Tiyani is passionate about black woman empowerment and plays an active role in improving women’s status in society. Continue reading as Tiyani offers an in-depth account of what it takes to be an entrepreneur and shares the lessons she’s learned being a black woman in a male-dominated industry…
Full Name: Tiyani Majoko
Current Title/Position: Entrepreneur & Co-Founder of Lawgistics Legal Consultants
Educational Background: Admitted Attorney, educated at the University of Pretoria
Current City: Johannesburg
Tiyani, you are the co-founder of Lawgistics Legal Consultants, a law consultancy with specializations in minerals & energy, environmental law, commercial law, training, business developments and strategy amongst a few. Take us through the journey to founding your own firm?
When I was working in a law firm, in as much as I enjoyed the work, the law firm culture didn’t meet my needs as a millennial. In May 2013 I decided to resign and I didn’t have anything lined up, but I decided to faith it and rely on God! I got a job in the most miraculous way and I shared the story in True Love Magazine.
When I came back from the Christmas holidays in January 2014 I got a call from a friend who had recommended me for a short term project that involved logistics companies. I worked on it for about a month and in that time my father, who is also a lawyer, was visiting me and he helped me with some of the work! It was out of this that I decided to start my own consulting company, Lawgistics – with my dad as the co-founder. I worked in Lawgistics on a part-time basis for over a year. In June 2015 I decided to leave my job in the oil and gas company I was working for.
In July 2015, Lawgistics had its first full time employee, that being myself – and in October 2015 my other partner, Thokozani Dlongolo joined me.
In the past 6 months we have hit all our targets and almost tripled the revenue from a year ago, so we are blessed and grateful that God came through, as always!
Lawgistics Legal Consultants has established impressive relations with individuals, private companies, state-owned entities and non-profit organizations alike. Clients are integral to the success of service-driven companies like yours, and it could not have been easy establishing this large client base. What do you think have been the key attributes ensuring you acquire and retain clients?
Clients want to know that you care about their business so, as my mentor says, don’t just add value; multiply it. Saving them money is important, but being knowledgeable in your area of expertise is vital. Our aim in Lawgistics, is to give holistic and practicable advice to our clients and not just ‘stop the bleeding’. We have some clients that are SMMEs and it’s really interesting to walk the journey with these businesses, giving more than just legal advice but also strategic growth advice. We always make sure we are professional in the way we present ourselves, as they say – you can only make a first impression once. We spent a lot of time and money on our corporate marketing tools so that when we go to meetings with our materials there should be no difference between our business cards and those of a JSE listed company!
Additionally, we also take a collaborative approach: at Lawgistics we have partnered with 4 other small firms to create a full service commercial and mining team. We also have partners with MBA’s and Accounting experience that we offer to clients to provide a one-stop shop.
As the co-founder of Lawgistics, you are in essence both a legal professional as well as an entrepreneur. Do you think that different character traits and skills are required to succeed in both these fields, or do you make use of these skills concurrently?
You need to be obsessed with learning to succeed. When I was in my 2nd year of Articles as a Candidate Attorneys I made a commitment to get a new certificate every year until I turned 30 or got my Masters degree; which ever came first. I am still on that track, so I always tell people to find ways to acquire more knowledge – be it through courses, reading books or even watching TED talks regularly.
You need to be resilient because things get very difficult very quickly and if you aren’t single-minded about making it as an entrepreneur you will find yourself applying for a job. Faith it till you make it!
You need to ask questions and try to surround yourself with people that can answer those questions. It’s important to develop a network of people who have different skills and more experience than you so they can give you a deeper and wider perspective.
Your firm prides itself in being passionate about law, business and Africa. In proving its commitment to business, one of the services that Lawgistics Legal Consultants provides is business development and strategy – which focuses on assisting entrepreneurs who require guidance in establishing their business. What key regulatory requirements and laws would you suggest women wishing to start their business ventures familiarize themselves with?
Women should take advantage of the current legislation that seeks to empower women – especially black women. Women need to use this to leverage their position in potential transactions – such as when negotiating ownership and decision making authority. Women should also get more acquainted with the Companies Act, especially the sections that deal with Directors duties, to make sure they are aware of their responsibilities and liabilities when they accept directorship positions in companies.
Additionally, many companies are looking for black women-owned businesses to supply them with certain goods and services for procurement purposes as required by the BBBEE legislation and they can create pockets of opportunity there too.
What do you believe is integral to the growth of entrepreneurship and fund raising in Africa?
We need support from both private sector and government. The private sector should facilitate access to market for small businesses and the government should provide access to finance; even providing security for entrepreneurs to raise debt from banks if necessary. We also need to reduce the requirements to access funding, it can be a long and expensive process to organize the relevant documents supporting the application.
I run the BlackOut, which is a company that seeks to educate, entertain and create networking opportunities for entrepreneurs and wantrepreneurs (wannabe entrepreneurs). We host various sessions giving practical tools to entrepreneurs looking to grow their businesses. Our Facebook page is TheBlackOutSA & you can follow us for more updates.
You list one of your areas of expertise as the preparation, revision and implementation of Socio-Economic Development Plans in the energy sector and Social and Labour Plans in the mining sector. Energy and mining is a critical and often controversial topic in Southern Africa. What processes do you think Southern Africa needs to put in place as measure of stabilizing the industry?
In 2012 I wrote an article about the 3 evil triplets of the mining industry- poverty, inequality and unemployment and if anything they have been aggravated by the economy which is plagued with the same challenges. I think the answer is a long way off, but we must start by addressing the culture of the mining industry which is being done to an extent by legislation such as the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act and the Mining Charter. In addition, when it comes to the extraction of non-renewable resources, we need to ensure that we are concerned with the triple bottom line- which includes social and environmental, not only profit as has been the focus. This is a sustainable approach and ensures that we take care of stakeholders and not only shareholders.
We also need the governments to enforce punitive measures against non-compliant mining companies and show commitment to the objectives of the legislation. Beneficiation needs to be non-negotiable, exporting of raw minerals needs to be in exceptional circumstances. We need to develop our industries as a region and begin to export complete products. This will not be an easy process, and we need institutional support to see this happen.
Tells us about your passion for mining and energy – have you ever encountered any obstacles as a woman, considering it is known to be a male-dominated industry?
I don’t think the obstacles I have encountered are unique to me, they are the struggles of many women, especially black women in technical sectors. I have had my share of moments being undermined or intimidated – but fortunately I received training from one of the best mining lawyers in South Africa. She was one of the leading mining law experts in regulatory mining law and she gave us a lot of responsibility in running transactions. I know that when it comes to mining, I know what I am talking about so I let my work speak for itself and that is how you gain the respect of male colleagues.
As a legal professional and business woman, what obstacles have you faced and how have you overcome them?
I think women suffer from an imposter syndrome, where you feel like you a fraud at work and that you don’t really know what you are doing. This can feel particularly evident in meetings and you can be tempted to keep quiet lest you expose yourself. I like to confront that fear and dispel that notion to myself as well as to others in the room, so I always make sure I say something in meetings. I prepare beforehand to make sure I have a question to ask – a question that shows that I have knowledge of the subject or I make a contribution to the discussion. It improves your self-esteem and also increases your esteem among those at the table, especially with clients.
Take us through what a typical work day looks like for you?
I wake up at 5 am and read my Bible, about 3 chapters a day to finish the Old Testament in 1 year. This is the most important part of my day. It’s where I sharpen myself and the days I skip this part tend not to be great! I then go to the gym between 6 am to 8 am.
I hate traffic so I usually work virtually until 10 am. If I don’t have meetings in the afternoon I leave the office at 3pm, alternatively I stay in the office until 7 pm.
I am socially active so in the evenings I attend BMF events, networking functions or attend a programme at church. Oddly, Friday nights are very quiet for me and it’s my night for “me time”.
I worked from home for almost 3 years so getting into the office environment has been a bit of a change of routine, so when I need to get in the zone I still work from home. It also means I don’t stop working. I usually shut down my computer at around 10:30 pm every night- excluding Saturday evenings if I can avoid it!
At the start of the week I work on my list of things to accomplish which I look at every morning when I sit at my desk and there is no greater feeling than being able to tick off items on the list. I also use my calendar on my emails to make sure I update it so that I don’t drop the ball on deadlines or forget meetings. It also helps the team know my availability before they schedule meetings. I use Siri on the iPhone to set my short term reminders so I also don’t forget to do things like make calls to follow up with people.
Advice for aspiring legal professionals and business women?
Build a network of inspirational women and progressive men who can mentor you on your career path. Mentorship doesn’t have be one on one, or in person so use all platforms available to you to learn something new and ask questions.
Get comfortable with the discomfort around numbers, don’t be shy to talk about money and do not undervalue yourself.
Women need to get out in the market some more. When I attend BMF events, or networking events they are always better attended by men. Women need to participate more than just in events that happen in August! If there are challenges around the times that the events are held, eg evenings, then say something so you can be accommodated.
Morning or night? Early morning or late night
If you could have lunch with any woman, who would it be and what would you order? Actress Tracee Ellis Ross. I would order grilled salmon with some greens and macaroons with a cup of tea!
I wish I knew how to…write code so I could build my own apps!
African women are… made of magic! They are the embodiment of beauty, wisdom and strength.
Africa needs… nothing more than it already has! We have it all!
Worst money mistake… I didn’t have enough savings when I decided to work for myself full time and thus I really suffered for 7 months as I had no steady cash flow, so I lived on a credit card as a result and you know what they say about payback.
Best investment… My bed. It makes me really happy at the end of a long day.
Motivation in 3 words… Get it girl!