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Joudalle Govender - Keep knocking on those doors, always be polite, even when it’s tough

Director and co-owner, Argento Trading 117cc


Joudalle Govender is the director and co-owner of Argento Trading 117cc in Isithebe, which manufactures clothing for both corporate and retail clients.


Joudalle is a remarkable businesswoman whose journey to becoming a prominent figure in the world of clothing manufacturing is inspiring. Her story is one of determination, resilience, and a deep commitment to making a positive impact on the women of her community.


Argento Trading 117cc, under Joudalle’s visionary leadership, has evolved into a thriving company. With a predominantly female workforce of 70 employees, she has created a workplace that prioritises inclusivity and collaboration.


A big word

For Joudalle, achieving is quite a big word. She says, ‘I don’t know how you would describe achieving, but for me every day is an achievement. Every little thing is an achievement. We have a culture of continuous improvement. So, it’s easy to achieve things on a daily basis.”


One of her most significant achievements, she believes, is fostering a culture of stability within her company, where inclusivity and collaboration are the driving forces. “It’s no easy feat when you have to get 70 ladies to all be in agreement at any one time,” says Joudalle with a laugh. This dedication to creating a harmonious and empowering workplace has led Argento Trading 117cc to be recognised as the fastest-growing small medium enterprise through the SME Accelerator programme in 2023.


However, Joudalle says that her biggest achievement, and Argento’s as well, has been opening a training school for 18 young women from rural areas. She commented, ‘I think the training school was a highlight for me as a leader, which goes far beyond just monetary value, as leaving a legacy behind is important.”


A Positive Contribution

Although Joudalle came from a corporate background which she enjoyed, her journey into entrepreneurship began five years ago when her retired husband entrusted her with a building, igniting the spark for their business venture. Joudalle was motivated to make a positive contribution to their community. “It was a dream to do something good in this bad world, to establish something that would make a positive impact.”


Her aim was not initially to be a manufacturing company, in fact, they started as an industrial tool company. However, driven by a deep sense of purpose, Joudalle chose clothing manufacturing as her avenue to create a lasting impact. She said with a smile, “After all, what lady doesn’t like clothing?”


In addition, Joudalle had witnessed the decline of the manufacturing hub in Isithebe and felt compelled to address the need for support in this sector.


What started with buying and selling clothing for a company that gave her a chance, then being chosen by that company to incubate after winning a request for a quote, transformed into a thriving manufacturing business.


Challenges are opportunities

The growth of Argento Trading 117cc has been nothing short of remarkable. Beginning with just four employees and ten second-hand machines the business has now expanded to include 150 machines.


However, says Joudalle her primary inspiration to succeed is her dedicated workforce, many of whom are single mothers. Their unwavering commitment to their jobs despite facing significant personal challenges of their own, where they wake up at 4 a.m., walk long distances in a rural area to catch a taxi at 5 a.m. to get to work, and 90% haven’t even finished school, is what continually motivates her. “I think the inspiration came from the fact that they give so much and that’s what I’m giving back in return,” shares Joudalle.


Joudalle maintains a personal connection with her employees, influenced by her Indian culture, her upbringing, and her spirituality as a child of God, believing in God’s grace. While Joudalle acknowledges her successes, she also says that struggles come with running a business. “It has been quite a journey,” says Joudalle, “and certainly one not without many challenges.”


One of the biggest challenges they faced, was finances; starting a business from zero with no bank balance, just a name and a building, required much perseverance and tenacity. Further challenges encountered were meeting the deadlines of large corporate customers when they didn’t have the skills to support them, not having transportation to deliver the goods, and having to train people at the same time. All of which would be a daunting challenge for any entrepreneur juggling all those balls at once. Joudalle attributes much of the success of the business to her husband’s inspiration and trust, which allowed her the freedom to lead the business as she saw fit.


She commented, “Challenges are always there, but I think that from every challenge we have learnt something, we got stronger and are looking forward to the next challenge. ”Her future goals revolve around leaving a legacy in Isithebe that makes a meaningful difference in her community. She would like to have a company that can sustain the next generation of young women seeking employment and empowerment, where localisation plays a large part.


Be bold

As a successful businesswoman, Joudalle is passionate about encouraging young women to be bold, resilient, and persistent in pursuing their goals. She believes that hard work and determination are the keys to achieving success. “Keep knocking on those doors, always be polite, even when it’s tough,” encourages Joudalle. “There’s no free lunch for anybody in this world, no matter what anybody tells you.”


In her rare moments of relaxation, Joudalle cherishes spending time with her five children and occasionally engages in meditation to rejuvenate her spirit.


Being recognised as a KZN Top Business Woman is a significant achievement for Joudalle. She views this accolade as a platform that motivates her to work even harder. It serves as recognition of her company’s core values of integrity and respect, while simultaneously inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs. She sees her nomination as a well-deserved pat on her back, which propels her to continue her journey with even greater dedication and passion.

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