From the intrigue of medical practice as a young girl to running a successful medical centre.
That is the story CEO, healthcare practitioner and founder of Kriel Occupational Health Centre, Dr Lindi Mokwena who shares with us what drives her passion for healthcare and how this profession has been a calling to her.
Our reporter Melissa Nare speaks to her about all things medical.
Ignited Woman Mag (IWM): Tell us about your background.
Dr Lindi Mokwena (LM): I grew up in a mining village near Emalahleni in Mpumalanga. I am a medical doctor with a passion for people and a focus on the empowerment of women. Healthcare has always been my love as I was inspired at an early age while visiting the mine clinic where I grew up.
After I completed my internship and community service in the public healthcare space, I took up some postgraduate studies in occupational health. It was only after spotting some gaps in the occupational health services while working in the mining clinics that I started thinking about my own business. I'm married with a 10 year old son.
IWM: What inspired you to become a doctor?
LM: When I was young, I used to go to the mine clinic where we were treated because we were part of the mine community as my parents were mine workers. I used to admire the way they did their work. It was so interesting for me because it looked different from general practice and what I normally saw when I went to the GP, that's where I developed the interest in medicine.
IWM: What led you to starting your own business?
LM: I was working in mining clinics when I spotted a gap in occupational health services in my area. People had to go far to get medical screening for fitness to work so that's when I decided to open the practice in my area in Kriel. The centre was established in 2008 and it's now 14 years. This is truly an amazing feat.
IWM: What does Kriel Occupational Health Centre specialize in?
LM: At the core of what we do is screening people to establish whether they are fit for the work they are employed to do. Our main areas of work are in mining and construction but it’s not limited to only those industries. Even domestic workers who would like to know whether their medically fit to do their job, we are the people to go to.
Occupational health is all about medical fitness for work, so we have to make sure that you are medically fit to go and do a particular job. We simulate the hazards a person might face in their workplace as a way to test their fitness. We have our main office, that is a clinic where they come to us and do the medical screening. But we also have a mobile clinic that enables us to go to various sites to do the screenings there. We have found the mobile to be more convenient for certain clients because it doesn't waste a lot of production time especially when people need to finish the medical screening and immediately start work or induction.
IWM: What has been the challenges and highlights of your journey?
LM: I think like just like any other business the challenges that we face sometimes are access to market or a shortage of clients because we deal with contractors who come and go and that affects the numbers that we see because they are only there for a time until the contract ends then we lose them. The challenge is also exacerbated by job losses in the area due to recession.
Despite all those challenges the highlight is that we managed to reach 14 years in business.
IWM: What has been the highlight of your business?
LM: Despite all those challenges the highlight is that we managed to reach 14 years in business. I can look back and say we are still here, still surviving. We have not closed doors like many other small business or startups, for me to be here and still doing what I love. The job opportunities for the people that work for me has been big highlight as well, as l currently employ 21 people. We started as a women empowered company but then now including at least one or two males so that we get that form of security especially when traveling to sites.
IWM: What do you look forward to for your business this year?
LM: I wish for my business to keep on growing not just financially but also the number of clients, more employees and grow our nationwide footprint. I want to make it to a point where we just get so busy that we have to get more people to assist us because we've got networks that can.
IWM: What are some of the things you like to do besides work?
LM: I enjoy being a mother, staying at home and taking care of my child and doing what mothers and wives do, so I enjoy the holidays in December because that's the only time I get to fully rest and be with my family.
IWM: How would you advice someone who's in business.
LM: I would say to somebody who's already in business and they're facing challenges to never give up. You can always go back and revisit your goals and do some checkpoints on what you are failing from and what you can do to improve.
Lastly, always be passionate about what you're doing because the passion will propel you all the time.