After graduating from the University of Stellenbosch with a bachelor of commercial and actuarial science, which she completed while pursuing an athletic career 2009, Maria Rabie was awarded a Rhodes scholarship to study at the University of Oxford, where she obtained an MSc in applied statistics and an MBA at the Oxford Saïd Business School.
Movepretty, an active leisure outdoor brand for women, was born out of her retailing project while completing her MBA at Oxford. Rabie did extensive research for the project when she saw a gap in South Africa for “athleisure”. She believes that the growing trend of people wanting to live more active, healthy lifestyles and women who want to exercise in fashionable, comfortable clothing are some of the factors that have contributed to the success of her business. Movepretty is entirely home-grown; all products are manufactured locally, thereby supporting other local businesses and appealing to the conscious South African consumer.
At 21, she represented South Africa in Triathlon at the Beijing Olympics and again recently at the 2016 Rio Olympics. She says retiring from professional sport at the end of 2016 gave her a chance to pause, reflect, and consider how she could apply the skills and the lessons learnt in her life going forward. She realised in addition to doing well, she also wanted to make a valuable contribution to the lives of others.
Although she’s achieved a lot more than many people her age, the fear of not being good enough is something she often battles. “I have encountered this fear repeatedly, whether as a South African at a top international university or on an Olympic start line, starting my own business and as a woman in the business world. I constantly have to overcome this fear by doing the very best that I can, regardless of the circumstances. The rest is beyond my control anyway.”
— Welcome Lishivha