Celeste le Roux started her business in her kitchen and grew it into a massive organisation with multiple offices across the country. In recognition of her business acumen, she was awarded this year’s Standard Bank Top Women Entrepreneur of the Year award.
Born and raised in Cape Town’s Retreat, the 42 year old Celeste is the founder and CEO of React24, a company that is based in the male dominated maintenance and construction industry. More specifically, her company does building and home maintenance for the largest companies in the country as well as government, which include everything from plumbing to laying down cables for fibre internet.
The ‘Standard Bank Top Women Entrepreneur’ award aims to recognise trailblazers whose efforts have uplifted women in business and society. The award is especially focused on women leaders and trailblazers currently making waves in the world of business. Over her 20 years of experience in the industry, Celeste has certainly made a lot of waves and as a woman; you have to make waves to break through the glass ceiling.
Celeste says that the maintenance and construction industry generally discriminates against women because it is believed that only men can do the industry’s ‘tough’ jobs. She says that there are many talented but unemployed women with plumbing, electrical and carpentry skills. Despite these skills being in demand, these women are not getting the jobs simply because of the crime of being born female. It doesn’t get any better if you move up the managerial ladder.
She says that despite her vast experience, her leadership and competence are still questioned, once again, just because she is a woman. Although things have improved over the years, she confesses that it is still sometimes the case that women (especially women of colour) struggle to get the larger private and government contracts, especially in her home province of the Western Cape. However, under Celeste’s leadership, React24 has built the kind of highly respected reputation that makes it hard to be ignored.
She says that she started the company around her kitchen table with the help of her husband as well as two employees and one vehicle. It is now one of the most well-known maintenance and building companies in South Africa, catering to the largest private companies and being part of the largest government construction projects. She has even added the React Training College, which aims to empower persons of colour with the vital skills needed for the industry as a whole. She is especially interested in empowering women and is in fact, one of the few companies that employ female plumbers. Her commitment to women empowerment was yet again celebrated earlier this year when she won the 2020 Woman Mentor of the Year at the inaugural Empowerment and Recognition of Women in Construction Awards.
For those hoping to become entrepreneurs, Celeste advises that your most valuable asset are the people that work for you, so get the best and treat them well. She also says that you have to be a tough and a bit forward. The world of business is only kind to those who are willing to take charge and take chances. She says that she never takes ‘no’ for an answer and this has helped her get far.
If you want to know more about Celeste and her company, or just use her services, you can do so by visiting React24.co.za