Overcoming challenges

Telkom’s Keneilwe Gwabeni grew up in a rural village with limited resources and no electricity. Today, she’s CIO of the telco’s Consumer and Small Business unit and is focused on enabling other small businesses to get online.

22 March 2023

Telkom’s Keneilwe Gwabeni. Photo: Karolina Komendera

Keneilwe Gwabeni’s story is proof that, with hard work, determination and resilience, you can go far. “Growing up, for me to get anything, I had to put in a lot of effort. Before I could make food, I had to make fire, and before I could make fire, I had to walk around and find something to make fire with, whether that was wood or even dry cow dung. That’s what built my character; I know nothing comes easy, but it’s where my work ethic and resourcefulness came from.”

Born into a family of nine children and the daughter of a policeman-cum-farmer, Gwabeni’s early years were spent in a dusty rural village outside Mafikeng. There was no electricity, she remembers, and getting water required a long walk with a wheelbarrow and containers. Today, she’s CIO of Telkom’s Consumer and Small Business unit, and was recently recognised by knowledge-sharing platform HotTopics.ht as one of the top 100 CIOs globally. She believes those early experiences have been key to her success.

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