Owner of Kwality Home and Dealer Engen uShaka Service Station
Shahzaadee Ballim, or Shaz as she is known, is the mother of two wonderful children and the wife of an amazing, supportive, strong husband, and partner for life.
Shaz is a passionate businesswoman, with her heart in multiple enterprises. She comments, “Sometimes I wonder where I find the energy to do it all. But I am truly business minded and I’m driven by passion which, I believe stems from having an entrepreneurial family as well as growing up and learning at my grandfather’s wholesale business and in latter days, my dad’s business.”
The two businesses closest to her heart are Kwality Home and Engen uShaka Service Station consisting of a quickshop and Steers franchise.
Shaz inherited Kwality Home from her dad after he fell ill and sadly passed away. The company imports, supplies and sources tableware, homeware, as well a wide range of finished goods and absolutely anything their customers require, who are large multinationals such as Walmart, as well as smaller independent retailers.
“My journey was quite complicated,” explained Shaz. “I’m an only child. I was studying when my dad fell ill. Halfway through my studies I had to come into the family business. I was fairly young, but I knew that I had to step into his shoes and try to continue, which was not an easy journey.”
An achievement that is close to Shaz’s heart, is that she was not only able to step in and restart her father’s business but has grown it. “The business is steadily increasing, and that is an achievement considering the challenges almost all businesses have fought through in the last three years,” explained Shaz. The 35-year-old business is now able to get anything you need from anywhere in the world.
She added that she always dreamt of being in the petroleum industry. However, there are only 4% of dealers nationwide that are female. Shaz applied to become a dealer in 2015 with no experience in the industry, she had to jump through some hoops to do so. In 2017 Shaz became the proud owner of the Engen at uShaka in KwaZulu-Natal.
Bold calculated steps
“You could say my business achievements are a result of bold calculated steps, faith, and also just sheer circumstance, which required a ‘sink-or-swim’ approach,” said Shaz. “Fortunately, I am someone who thrives under pressure but taking over my father’s business was pressure of a totally new kind. I would say I got to where I am today because of grit and the sheer determination to succeed. I simply could not give up because I had many people who relied on me, not just my family but also all the valuable staff members already employed by the business. I’m a firm believer that if you are committed to succeed, you will, regardless of what challenges you face.”
Aside from the sad loss of her parents and being thrust into the family business with little experience, the challenges Shaz has faced are not dissimilar to those of most business owners. Even though owning a fuel station may seem a pandemic-proof business it isn’t, and Shaz had to find a way to carry on. She had to battle the odds with ongoing road closures and terrible storm damage to her property. Cash flow is always a challenge; Shaz has been able to grow her businesses due to strategic planning and deliberate action to keep afloat.
On a personal level, she says that entrepreneurship is often a lonely pursuit; it’s late nights and early mornings; it’s trading the things you want to do for the things you simply have to do.
In the future, Shaz wants her businesses to continue to thrive and grow.; to find new ways to generate revenue and also to empower others to do the same.
Just do it
Shaz loves to see women succeed and would like to assist in uplifting women on their path to success, especially in the fuel industry, which is steadily growing. Her advice to young women is, “Just do it, don’t be afraid to take the risk. I truly believe that dreams do come true because I
have seen it with my own eyes.”
Shaz added, “Dreaming is one thing, but you need to genuinely believe that you deserve what you want, and you have to back yourself. It can feel like shark-infested waters out there and you are your only chance at survival. Be positive, get ready to be uncomfortable, and just dig your heels in and all will happen for you.”
She added that she owes a lot of her success to her father, who was her biggest supporter and to a strong mother. “Similarly, she wants to leave a meaningful legacy for her kids. “I’d like them to know and aspire to be entrepreneurs and to make a change in this world and to know that nothing is impossible. I want to show my daughter that a woman absolutely can do anything and be happy doing it.”
Balance and self-care
Shaz commented that while it may seem impossible to juggle the role of wife, mother, and businesswoman, it is possible although it takes a lot of hard work. She wants to show her children that balance and self-care is important too. Shaz’s family is her support structure. As they lift each other up, she makes time to give back to them, which means spending quality time together as well looking after herself so she can be at her best for them. “There’s not much spare time once you’re an entrepreneur, but you have to make the time. I would say that the solution is to build a business that’s strong so that you can take the time that you need to deal with your kids and other demands,” she explained.
In conclusion, Shaz says that it is a wonderful honour to be part of the KZN Top Business Women.