MARCINA MAJID heads up SAS Cares which is a subsidiary of Southern African Shipyards. SAS Cares is a skills development, exposure and experience based non-profit organisation.
The organisation was founded on the premise that skills and education go hand in hand in developing individuals and communities. "We want to upskill people and also expose people to the possibilities of careers in the maritime industry," explained Marcina. "It is about getting everybody on the same level."
Love for women's empowerment
Her journey to establishing the foundation has been varied. "After I graduated, I was employed by a firm of chartered accountants. I was very fortunate in that this was at the time when the black economic empowerment (BEE) codes came out and I started a BEE verification company." Marcina said that she was in the privileged position of having her children and being able to run the company at the same time. However, she then had a two-year hiatus where she took time out of her working life and reflected on what she really wanted to do.
She explains further, "It just so happened that I got into the health and fitness industry. I had two gyms that ran consecutively for about six years. During that time, I discovered my love for women's empowerment because I worked first-hand with women. I got to understand the needs and issues in their communities and in their lives as well as the socio-economic impact that they have in society or the lack thereof."
These experiences gave Marcina insight into what she wished to accomplish in her own life. Unfortunately, a hip operation put everything on hold, and she had to stop working in the health and fitness industry.
My purpose is to help others
Consequently, Marcina made the decision to work at South African Shipyards which at that time had became part of the family business. "That is when I started working with my husband, Prasheen Maharaj, CEO of SA Shipyards. We worked side by side in making a success of the business, but I always felt that I worked better when working on CSI initiatives and playing a supporting role in that regard. From that insight arose SAS Cares and I feel that my purpose is to help others."
In speaking of her sources of inspiration Marcina explained that she is inspired by women who are go-getters. "I don't like to glorify people as there is a lot of ebb and flow in everybody's lives. To put one woman up in high regard is doing a disservice to all the other women who don't have a platform or who are finding themselves. There are a lot of women who wake up at 4 am in the morning and slog through a hard day - getting their kids to school, getting to work on time, having a hard, honest day. Getting back home, cooking a meal and then getting ready for the next day. They don't get recognition and I am inspired by them."
However, she added that she is also inspired by the women who are the chatterboxes; who are the disrupters. "I am inspired by women who are not defined by a box. By women who have a blank slate - the innovators, our local artists, our designers and our scientists. All those females who you come across every day in the media."
A seat at the table
Marcina believes that women need to approach business differently from men to be successful. "We are set up with so many disadvantages, there are so many things that we need to think about before we take those steps into business. Men have fraternity, they have a brotherhood and a comradery, which is about uplifting one another. With women, we have a small gap to contribute in and we are all fighting to be empowered. Michelle Obama said, 'You can have it all, you just can't have it right now'. It is about taking the time, fighting those causes and making sure that we can get up and have a seat at the table."
"I am happy with what I have accomplished. As a person who does a lot of introspection on my life, I monitor what it is that I think and how I approach things. SAS Cares is a stepping-stone that can go further. This business is not about my recognition and ego. The recognition I want is for SAS Cares. I want other people to see the good that comes from this company and that this is going to allow us to take on other partners for our cause."
Finding a work-life balance is very difficult for Marcina. "Fortunately, as I have been in the health industry, I try to exercise every day. I like to upskill myself so every year I take a recreational course. These learnings filter into my family life as whatever I have learnt I share."
"We go through ebbs and flows where we feel like we are failing as a mom or as a businesswoman, but you do what you can to get through that period."
In giving advice to her younger self, Marcina would say drown the noise and don't listen to all the fears that people project onto you. "I would also tell myself to take chances. Every failure is a learning opportunity. You don't ask why something is happening, ask, what are you going to learn from the situation."