Impact SA

Karabo Nguyuza, a guesthouse owner with a disability wins local tourism award

Karabo Main Image

“Everything is possible as long as you put your mind and focus to it.”

Atang guesthouse has been declared the best guesthouse in Tembisa by Gauteng Women in Tourism (WiT), at an awards ceremony held in Boksburg, Gauteng on August 30. Lockdown level 2 guidelines were followed and only 50 people were in attendance, seated two metres apart.

Karabo Nguyuza, the guesthouse owner, does not know who nominated her business, however, she is grateful for the nomination and the win.

“I feel excited to see that as young black women we are finally being recognised for our good work. I am thrilled to have been recognised by WiT, especially now because businesses have not been doing well due to the COVID–19 pandemic,” she says.

The development and empowerment of women

The WiT programme is a government initiative that “propels and supports the development and empowerment of women in the tourism sector” according to “The programme serves as a mechanism to elevate the status of women in tourism by providing training, empowerment and networking opportunities that facilitate their competitiveness as entrepreneurs, professionals and leaders,” the website continues.

Winners are carefully selected by the industry’s experts after visiting the nominated guesthouses and spending a night to observe the service delivery and review customer feedback found on social pages.

Atang won the best guesthouse in Tembisa for its excellent service, beating the other four guesthouses in the township.

Guesthouse owner and activist for social change 

The 30–year–old Nguyuza who contracted polio at the age of 14, is the first person with a disability to own a guesthouse in Tembisa. She is an activist for social change and her main goal is to empower women to get into business.  

Atang has been operating since January 2017 and can accommodate up to 24 people. Nguyuza says as a guesthouse owner with a disability she brings something different to the business.

“With all the guesthouses in Tembisa, Atang is the one with universal accessibility and we also have free transportation for guests with disabilities.”

“I feel so humble and privileged to be in the position that I am right now, knowing that other women look up to me and I am happy that I am a role model to both young and old women,” Nguyuza says.

Challenges on her entrepreneurial journey

The guesthouse owner says she has faced some challenges on her entrepreneurial journey.

“I am not given equal opportunities such as funds to have an inclusive transport and an accessible workplace. I have been turned down because there are people who think I lack the ability to run a business just because I have a disability.

“And in a male–dominated industry I am bullied as a woman and sometimes men will want to sleep with you in order to give you opportunities and this relates to funding as well,” Nguyuza says.

Her clients range from government officials to ordinary tourists who find out about her guesthouse on booking websites, social media and word of mouth.

Nguyuza’s advice to people with disabilities who are considering starting a business is to be focused and have a positive mind-set.

“Everything is possible as long as you put your mind and focus to it.”



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