CA Thabelo Raphala a force for empowerment


Throughout her career, Thabelo Raphala has dedicated her focus on developing entrepreneurs.

In a world where entrepreneurship is both challenging and rewarding, there are individuals dedicated to helping business owners navigate the complex landscape.

One such individual is Thabelo Raphala, My Dough MD, a business incubator and accelerator. With a passion for empowering entrepreneurs, this visionary leader and her team are on a mission to provide comprehensive support and resources to help SMEs build sustainable and successful businesses.

My Dough offers a suite of tools and features that streamline business operations and provide valuable insights into performance.

Thabelo’s responsibilities encompass various activities, including providing strategic guidance to entrepreneurs, facilitating access to markets and funding opportunities, and developing the My Dough Digital Platform.

She added that her role also creates tailored entrepreneurship learning materials and organises events to foster networking and collaboration among entrepreneurs.

Empowering the underrepresented

Her decision to join My Dough was driven by a deep-rooted passion for transforming the South African SME landscape.

Witnessing the resilience and potential of small businesses, Thabelo said she wanted to create an organisation that offered comprehensive support, going beyond the standard business incubator model.

“My commitment to helping entrepreneurs grow their sales, retain clients, and deliver high-quality products or services resonated strongly with my vision of empowering underrepresented entrepreneurs,” she explains.

Her drive comes from being involved in her parents’ entrepreneurial endeavours, where she would often take care of managing sales and customer payments at her father’s mechanic business.

An impactful career

Thabelo studied at Unisa and joined the Auditor General of South Africa (AGSA) where she trained to become a chartered accountant (CA). While at the AGSA, she spearheaded the Enterprise and Supplier Development Programme, supporting more than 80 black audit firms and enabling them to access procurement opportunities.

“Through My Dough, we currently support over 3,000 SMEs, and have also been instrumental in helping SMMEs that were affected by the KZN floods and South African looting in 2021 rebuild,” she says.

“Witnessing the growth of these businesses and my contribution to economic development has been incredibly rewarding.”

Inspiring young leaders

Her role in supporting SMEs earned her a spot in Saica’s Top 35 Under 35 list, which recognises CAs who are making a difference in South Africa.

Being recognised as a finalist for the competition was a remarkable honour for her, Thabelo explains. “It reinforced my belief in the power of young leaders to drive positive change in South Africa.”

The experience also provided her with an opportunity to connect with exceptional professionals and learn from their journeys, further fuelling her determination to make a difference in the lives of entrepreneurs and the wider community.

She advises other young professionals like her to embrace perseverance, continuous learning, and opportunities disguised as challenges. “Never shy away from challenges, use failures as learning opportunities, and stay curious,” she says. “Success is not a linear path, but a result of resilience, hard work, and a commitment to personal growth.”

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