UpLift creates new narrative

Thandeka Zulu’s goal is to impact livelihoods and restore community dignity through upliftment.  © Pierre Tostee / Mr Price Foundation  


  • Thandeka Zulu is a valued implementation partner of Mr Price Foundation’s entrepreneurship programmes  
  • She is a powerhouse with a passion for uplifting local economies through farming and small business enterprises 
  • Entrepreneurship creates a new narrative of youth as creators of employment   


At Mr Price Foundation, we are driven by our core values of Passion, Value and Partnership – and we love to forge partnerships with those who share our passion for youth empowerment.  


One such partner is Thandeka Zulu, founder and CEO of Niya Consulting.  


An entrepreneurial powerhouse, Thandeka has a passion for community upliftment and developing small business enterprises. That’s what makes her such a great fit for our youth entrepreneurship programmes.  


“These entrepreneurship programmes are incredibly rewarding. It is uplifting to see youth taking ownership of their lives and community by doing their best to start businesses from limited resources and creating their own ecosystems in the community. This is the beginning of generational wealth and creating localisation,” Thandeka says.  


Originally from Osizweni-Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal, Thandeka studied Development Economics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. She furthered her education with a certificate in Philanthrophy and Non-profit Strategy at the University of California’s Haas School of Business. 


After spending a productive decade at Mr Price Foundation as Head of our JumpStart work-readiness programme, Thandeka founded Niya Consulting in Durban in 2018.  


“Niya Consulting is a business incubation hub that aims to drive economic growth and job creation. We have partnered with Mr Price Foundation to implement the entrepreneurship programmes: the Handpicked agripreneur programme, the UpLift Grassroots Entrepreneurial Programme, and the Wastepreneur Programme,” says Thandeka.  


Initially active in KwaZulu-Natal, Niya’s services for the Foundation have expanded to the Western Cape, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and North West.  


“Niya is facilitating for HandPicked in Hammarsdale, Durban; for Uplift’s Grassroots Entrepreneurial Programme in Hammarsdale and KwaMashu, and for the UpLift Wastepreneur Programme in Durban. Our role starts from stakeholder engagement, recruitment and business mentoring and coaching, and access to market as per individual entrepreneurs needs,” Thandeka explains. 


Supporting new entrepreneurs is especially important in a country that is battling stubbornly high unemployment – and youth unemployment in particular. 


“In empowering youth with entrepreneurship skills, it creates a new narrative of youth as creators of employment in the businesses they operate. They are moving from consumers to becoming part of the means of production,” she says. 


Thandeka is recognised as one of South Africa’s most formidable women leaders in business. For the past three years, she has been a SADC UBI Global Ambassador, and is a longstanding member of the African Agribusiness Incubator Network.  


In 2022, Thandeka received 1st Runner Up for the Standard Bank Top Women Young Achiever, as well as 2nd Runner Up for the Standard Bank Top Women Entrepreneur of the Year.  


A mother of two – a 16-year-old son and seven-year-old daughter – Thandeka somehow also finds time to write books. She has published three bilingual children’s books: “My Road to School”;  a COVID book, “Life as We Know It”; and a gardening book, “Izitshalo”.   


 We celebrate and thank partners like Thandeka, who have dedicated their lives to unlocking tomorrow’s potential. 


“Everything I do is with the goal of impacting livelihoods and restoring community dignity, through upliftment programmes that are built to last,” Thandeka says. 






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