‘In property women are a force to be reckoned with’
Being born into an entrepreneurial family, whether it was selling packets of sweets or running a butchery, the women in Amanda Cuba’s family taught her from a young age that you can do anything that you put your mind to.
The resistance song “Wathint’ Abafazi, wathint’ Imbokodo” (You strike the women, you strike a rock) has become strongly associated with the brave women who marched on 9 August 1956 to the Union Buildings in protest against the hated pass laws. In commemoration of them and all the other women who fought for justice in this country, the government declared August National Women’s Month.
The real estate industry, used to be dominated by men, but of late more women are also making their mark. Cuba, director and COO of RE/MAX Southern Africa is one of these dynamic leading women. “In this industry, women are a force to be reckoned with. Here, they are free to make a powerful impact without having to be pitted against their male counterparts. In fact, 59% of our network are women. Women also account for 61% of our top 500 commission earners,” says Cuba.
She formed the diversified investment and management consultancy group Z-CAPITAL Properties with her sister Yolanda Cuba. At the end of 2014 she joined RE/MAX as a BEE partner and in 2016 was appointed as director and Chief Operating Officer for the Southern Africa region. She has a BBusSc (Hons) from UCT behind her name and has been interested in real estate since teenage years when she used to study the newspaper to learn about properties, areas and prices.
As a toddler she lived for four years with her grand-aunt in a shack in Duduza, a black township on the outskirts of Nigel on the East Rand. “She was a widow and I watched as she built her house from scratch without any bond financing. From the age of three, we used to help around the house, fetching water at the local tap with a wheel barrow and selling sweets and chips (which we had to pack in small bags weekly) to earn some extra cash for the household. Later in life, I moved in with my Aunt Nomzamo who had built up the family business to ensure that we were exposed to a different and more affluent lifestyle,” Cuba explains.
Cuba attributes her success to both the circumstances of her upbringing and the inspirational women who helped raise her: “Our mom gave us the belief that we can be anything that we wanted to be. She encouraged us to be adventure seekers and taught us that we are capable of anything that we put our minds to. It became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Also, having lived in many places – we attended eight schools by the time we finished high school – taught us to be self-sufficient and that change is a constant part of life that one has to embrace.”
Cuba encourages young women to remain authentic to who they are in their pursuit of success as society continues to work at equalising the scales that remain slightly skewed in men’s favour.
“Research by Stats SA reveals that the wage gap has seen improvement over the 2010-2016 period, with women having been recorded as earning the same amount as men in the bottom 10% median monthly earnings in 2016. However, the wage gap still exists in other categories, with women earning R8 for every R10 a man earns within the top 5% of median monthly earnings category in 2016. Despite this disparity, I would encourage all working women to be true to who they are. It is easy for young women to change themselves to accommodate others and to get ahead in the workplace, but this will be at their peril. This does not mean that women ought to be arrogant but should rather follow their dreams and strive to pursue the things that move them closer to that achieving that dream daily,” Cuba concludes.
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