Yashmita Bhana leads Nihka Technology Group as its Founder and CEO. Her job is to look after the people who are the business – her team – and the partners with whom they have built great relationships over the years.
Yashmita came from a hardworking and humble background. “A company is reflective of its owner. This is true of my business and my life which ebbed and flowed in synchronicity with one another. I’m one of four siblings with a Dad that was a general store dealer and a mum who was a domestic engineer. They instilled in us an ethos of hard work, perseverance and kindness.”
With a Masters in Engineering and an MBA, Yashmita was highly sought after in the corporate world but chose a different path. During her studies she was the only woman in the engineering class and spent her university life in Doc Marten boots trying to fit in with the boys. Her early career days were spent on mines as a site engineer mingling with mineworkers and playing with explosives to build underground tunnels and dams, before she ventured into a safer IT environment.
Coming from an engineering background and moving into technology seemed like a natural progression. Both fields form part of the STEM bodies of knowledge and it was an intuitive progression for Yashmita. The concepts were the same: her engineering training taught her how to apply her mind with logical precision. The same is applicable with the tech space; critical thinking skills whilst navigating rough terrain.
In 2003 Yashmita founded a company with a partner and it was doing exceptionally well. Things took a turn for the worst when she had her second son in 2007. When she got back from maternity leave, she found that millions had been missing from the business. She left as a director due to this serious breach of trust. The family went through a difficult time and had no money. There were moments where they didn’t have enough food or money to buy items for the new baby.
But she felt she could do more as an entrepreneur and make a much larger impact than she would if she was an employee. The first failure was near catastrophic, having lost everything except very valuable lessons learnt.
Through it all, she had three beautiful, outrageous and energetic kids – two boys and a girl. Her youngest, a gorgeous 8-year-old girl named Dhiya (which means “the light”) was born with Mosaic Down Syndrome and teaches the family everyday how one can triumph despite one’s circumstances. Dhiya is also the inspiration for her being a campaigner for children with disabilities to be included in assisted main stream schooling.
To this end, she has established the Dhiya Development Foundation whose mandate is capacitation of youth in digital technologies. They are also focused on the introduction of technologies into South Africa that can have a positive social impact and inclusion of kids with disabilities in mainstream education.
‘A sense of belief that anything is possible’ has been the driving force for Yashmita over the years. She has recently developed an online platform for women entrepreneurs (She-Ra – www.she-ra.co.za) to encourage support, collaboration and exposure. This platform is available at no cost to all female entrepreneurs.