Managing Director BEESCORE Pty Ltd
Usha Jivan is a 61-year-old single mum with two children – a son, aged 35, and a daughter of 33. She says that raising her children, though filled with many challenges as a single parent, has been her greatest achievement to date. Usha’s son has gone on to become an investment banker and venture capitalist across Africa, while her daughter is a counselling psychologist practicing in Johannesburg.
Usha studied law and, after completing her articles of clerkship, was in legal practice for four years. In 1994, she was offered a lecturing position at the University of Durban-Westville where she lectured on various subjects, including criminal law, civil procedure, and family law. Usha obtained her master’s degree in law in 1997.
In early 2007, an opportunity was presented to Usha, with three others, to start the business currently known as BEESCORE Pty Ltd. She commented, “Today I am the sole shareholder and managing director of BEESCORE, a company which verifies Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) compliance of businesses nationally. Our all-star black, female-managed business has gone on to become the BEE verification partner of choice for large organisations such as SAICA, Aramex SA, Colgate-Palmolive, Mr Price Group, BP SA, The Interwaste Group, and the Euro Steel Group.”
The initial challenge Usha faced was to build a credible business amidst constantly evolving laws and regulations. “Since the entire industry was emerging, we were all ‘figuring it out as we went along,” she explained. “The next challenge we faced was to educate potential clients and industry stakeholders about the benefits of these new laws. BEE was a grudge purchase during the initial years of the legislation.
My passion for transformation, and training was reignited by this opportunity to apply these skills in a new environment.” More recently, Usha presented at webinars held by the BEE Chamber SA together with the SA Chamber UK. She was also a speaker at an Enterprise and Supplier Development Summit held at the ICC in July 2023 presenting on Transformational vs Transactional BEE.
Usha has always been passionate about contributing to a world in which women and other oppressed/minority groups were granted equal rights, and where family laws that empower women and children were upheld. This passion fuelled her decision to become a lawyer and encouraged her to spend time on pro bono cases focusing on women empowerment and in family/divorce mediation cases. Usha has published in “Street Law” manuals for learners and educators. Street Law is a tool used to improve the lives of communities. These strategies give the children opportunities to practice their speaking skills, improve their literacy, and give teachers the confidence to delve into some controversial topics.
She has delivered a paper at the Commonwealth Legal Conference in Sri Lanka on “The Legal Recognition of Same-Sex Marriages” and contributed extensively to community projects, providing pro bono legal assistance to help fight for such causes.
During the initial phase of the business, Usha’s encouragement came from the co-founder (a chartered accountant) who initiated the first meeting. “He educated me on policy making, and together we built our management systems and developed a policy manual collectively. I drew from his expertise and knowledge,” she explained.
Usha added that her principal, with whom she served her articles of clerkship, is a woman who demonstrates power and resilience. “She has followed my journey to where I am today. She was a great teacher to me, became my mentor, and still inspires me to this day. She started practising as an attorney in 1964; is in her late 80s and still goes to her office daily. I can see myself following in her footsteps in this regard, to keep my mind active as I age.”
Finally, added Usha her son and daughter are her greatest inspiration.
The biggest obstacle she has had to overcome is becoming increasingly relevant in an era of constant change and the need to continuously upskill or reskill to meet business demands. “The lesson I learned was not to fear the unknown, but to explore opportunities which might have a positive impact on my future. This helped me get to where I am today.”
Usha says that she has been personally involved in all areas of the business since 2015. “Working on my business has resulted in effective handover of many of my tasks to my efficient managers and administrators, which has had a positive impact on my accomplishments in the recent years.”
Playing our part
A vision that Usha and her team share is that they are committed to playing their part in actively promoting the intended spirit of the BEE codes to support the businesses and communities that will ultimately drive inclusive economic growth in South Africa.
On a more personal level, she looks forward to contributing to the further development of the incredible women who run BEESCORE so that one day they can say that they have successfully taken the business to greater heights.
As a service business, human capital says Usha is her greatest asset. “I am equally excited to play an active role in the lives of my children and in helping nurture the next generation of activists, leaders and changemakers.”
Usha has much advice for young women who are following in her path. This includes the importance of:
Facing problems head-on
Learning as an investment in oneself
Making time for the people you love
She added that challenges are the steppingstones to success. “Embrace them with courage, and you will carve your path to greatness. Life presents us with challenges that test our resilience and courage. By confronting challenges, you build resilience and adaptability, qualities that are crucial in a rapidly changing world.”
Lastly, it is important to have a work-life balance and to take care of your minds and your bodies.
Usha has invested in herself physically and spiritually. She eats healthy food, practising yoga and meditation as well as enjoys walking and jogging.