As OSH celebrates the milestone of turning 10, Nomsa Nteleko, CEO, and Amanda Nteleko, client relationship manager and director, discuss the company's growth, the future of tech in Africa and how young black females are dominating the ICT industry.
1. OS Holdings has just turned 10 – Congratulations! Please tell us a bit more about the company and how you’ve grown over the past decade.Nomsa Nteleko:
Photo credit: OS Business Amplifier
Photo credit: OS Business Amplifier
OS Holdings is a futuristic technology company that seeks to empower its customers with tools to ensure success in their businesses through automation of internal business processes, and providing information that helps leaders make intelligent decisions about their businesses. The success of our clients and our people is critical for the success of our business.
Our growth strategy has always been about growing and empowering our team. I am a strong believer that each of us has a gift, and I prefer that we all operate from our innate talents, purpose and abilities. For this reason, we had to ensure that each of our team members is intentionally placed in the business. The growth journey presented us with great challenges, be it from the clients, employees, changes in the industries we operate in, or the Covid-19 pandemic. This, however, gave us an opportunity to be intentional about who we want to be, and how we can navigate challenging situations while keeping our eyes on our goal of being a leading technology company on the continent.
Due to the innovative nature of our business, we started building our IP by developing own solutions that would add value to our clients while positioning ourselves as an OEM and ISV. We’ve had the pleasure of acquiring several awards from Sage and the tech community at large, which has continued to encourage us to build more capacity and grow our business. Our strength is also in collaborating with likeminded people and businesses in order to build strong business communities. We’ve built strong and trusted relationships with our suppliers who are, at times, a big part of our business. We have the great pleasure of partnering with Amathuba Artificial Technology and aggregator of Artificial Intelligence in Africa that seeks to ensure that Africa uses technology as a way of bettering human life. This partnership surely sets us apart as a technology company.2. Achieving this milestone as a black woman in SA, in the ICT industry, is no small feat. What challenges have you overcome to get here? What does the company turning 10 mean to you?NN:
I have always looked at myself as a professional first who desires to make a success of my life, impacting my world positively through my skills and talents. I appreciate the struggle of a black woman in our society; however, I have never worn it as a badge, simply because I believe that I am human first and my abilities are not limited by the fact that I am a woman - and I presented myself as such. The challenge really starts with being born in Africa, there are many shackles that we deal with which are ingrained in our minds, therefore it is of paramount importance that we mentally release ourselves from these shackles; this empowers us to deal with and handle any challenge we may come across, be it of race, gender or pure arrogance. In my journey I’ve had the great honour of being one of the Inspiring Fifty 2018 Winners by COCREATE SA and the Netherlands Government, as well as a runner up in the MTN Women Change Awards in two consecutive years 2016/2017 - This reflects the appreciation of the work I do in the industry. What matters most is when I see that through my life someone who is from a similar background, or even worse, knows that they can also make a great success of their life, regardless of their less favourable background or upbringing.3. What are your current roles at the company?Amanda Nteleko:
I am a customer retention executive. My role entails ensuring that the payments of sums owed by the department are made in an efficient, effective and timely manner. I also focus on building relationships with clients to ensure that their needs are met, they are satisfied with the services and/or products provided by the company and any challenges are resolved. I work closely with our professional services to have an understanding of where we are in terms of delivering solutions to our clients, and spend time with our technical team dealing with different clients to gain an understanding of daily problems they solve for our clients.
As a director at OS Holdings my outlook is for the ultimate success of the business, therefore my reach is not limited to the above but I can wear many hats.NN:
My role is to steer the company in the right direction, ensure that our strategy is very clear for our team to ensure delivery. I lead heads of departments to help ensure that they succeed in their business units respectively. I am responsible for strategy and building strategic partnerships that will help with the growth of the business.4. OSH is centred around growth, futurism and young black females dominating the ICT industry – Please elaborate on your focus on the continuity of business and the generational impact it is having.NN:
Legacy is important for me as a person; as a black girl in a Xhosa setup, I was truly blessed to have a father who had a liberal and futuristic mindset. My father never treated me like a girl, however he engaged with me like someone who is brainy and can achieve whatever they set their minds to. Business was never discussed at our dinner tables (or lack thereof), jobs were discussed. So, starting a business in my family was more like a path-finder type of an exercise because I had no reference, meaning there would be a delay in my journey since I would have to learn everything or figure everything out. Thus, it was important for me to start involving the next generation in business for them to learn and look at business as a way of life instead of it being a foreign concept, ensuring that they succeed.
I would like to see my future generation having options to choose their lives based on purpose and not on bread-and-butter issues - we need to build generations of creators, not just consumers.5. Tell us about your expansion into other countries and any future plans?NN:
We believed it was important for us to position ourselves as an African brand, not just a South African company. There are rich opportunities, partnerships and collaborations that can be explored in the continent which will be beneficial to the continent at large. Sharing knowledge and intelligence is a way of ensuring success and multiplying yourself as an organisation. If we have like-minded people, who have the same love and passion for the continent, the continent becomes richer. It was amazing to see an agreement of African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) being put in place because this is the only way African business can develop, promote growth and scale. We’ve had an amazing opportunity to partner with like-minded partners in the continent and we are looking forward to growing and building a channel in the continent with the technology that we’ve built, while also finding innovative technologies by notable upcoming developers in the continent.AN:
We started venturing in our neighbouring countries; we have recently set up an office in Eswatini, Zambia and Kenya with a project already in progress in Eswatini.6. What are some of your most memorable moments while working at OSH?AN:
I have a love- hate relationship with Mscoa (Municipal Standard Chart of Account) - I have never experienced severe stress like that in my entire life… hahahaha
We had to build a system that was to cater for the reform that National Treasury was going with for local government. Our team had sleepless nights, sharing knowledge, and brainstorming to make sure that we produce the best proposal we have ever made. Seeing our name in the panel of seven business who were successful was the best feeling. All the sleepless nights were worth it. The significance of this appointment was that a young team like ours had a seat at the highest table of the country which is National Treasury, contributing towards building systems that will ensure service delivery for local government and bring in transparency in how public funds are used. It was truly and honour for me to be part of that team. At the time I was a junior project manager; this journey helped me grow and be the person I am today.NN:
MSCOA was the greatest leap of faith for us as a five-year-old company led by youth. The team that led MSCOA will always be my heroes; those who are with us, and those who pursued other interests. These young men and women gave their lives to make a dream of a young African firm succeed in an almost impossible dream. We were aiming for green and going live by July 2017. MSCOA took everything from all of us, yet it gave so much to all of us. What I value about my team at OS is that they give me wings to fly; I walk into any organisation knowing that what I put on the proposal will be delivered. It is humbling to see young men and women literally give their lives to a vision like ours. Five years of grace, we had the amazing opportunity of celebrating the five-year milestone. At that celebration we spoke of the parable of an eagle - little did we know that parable would be what continues to inspire us as we faced great challenges on the MSCOA implementations and financing thereof.7. There is much to be said about the future of tech in Africa and its predictability. Can you share some thoughts about where we are heading?AN:
There is so much we still have yet to achieve, and with the technology we have and are continuously enhancing, we can only hope that we meet the international standard. We are on our way to being the preferred technology service provider, not only with the best technology in the market, but with the best customer service!8. Please tell us about the services that OSH offers, and what sets it apart, what’s new?AN:
OS Holdings is a technology company that helps organisations with business tools for business success. These tools are inclusive or ERP, HR, Payroll, Asset Management, Contract Management, Intelligence reporting and dashboards, Artificial Intelligence, Robotic Process Automation, Machine Learning and Conversational AI aka chatbots.
We are a certified Sage Partner since 2012 with following expertise:
9. Do you have any advice for anyone (or young black women in particular) starting out in the industry with big aspirations?NN:
- Sage 200
- Sage 300
- Sage x3
- Sage Intact
- Sage Business
- iServe Municipal Billing and Budget Module
I would say, equip yourself with knowledge, hunger to succeed, foster tenacity and resilience. There is great power in collaboration, but it must be with people that have the same value system. There are many obstacles along the road, but you can’t give up, and you must be open reengineering your business model from time to time. Your strength should be inside-out not outside-in.10. How can people get in touch with you?AN:
You can get in touch we us via all social media platforms, Twitter
You can also email us at az.oc.sgnidlohso@ofni