How I Came to Own the Largest Virtual Assistant Agency on the African Continent

How I Came to Own the Largest Virtual Assistant Agency on the African Continent


The year was 2008. I had started my own business due to a request from an ex-client at a previous full-time position.

Now what was I to do? I had already accepted and started a full-time post at another corporate and didn’t want to miss that opportunity.

And there, an entrepreneur was born. Back then I had not heard of the term "Virtual Assistant" and yet, that was apparently what I was offering my clients. To me I was offering marketing support on an ad hoc basis and loving the idea of running a side hustle whilst working.

It took quite a bit of juggling, yet with the help of an assistant I was able to do this quite successfully. And then that business folded. The emotional attachment I had to that brand was natural for a first time business owner.

It took me quite a few years to get beyond what I perceived was an absolute failure. Little did I realise then, but know now, was that failure should be embraced and seen as an opportunity to learn and to grow.

Out of what was left of that business I did learn a few business lessons. One of the things I learned was that although outsourcing was at its infancy stage, especially in South Africa, there was still a demand for it. Virtual assistance was only surfacing in our market, even though our international counterparts had been making use of this service for 2 decades by that stage.

Fortunately I forged ahead. For some reason I just had this feeling that I needed to make this work. Now to really understand the full picture, I had no idea of really running a business, the importance of having proper contracts in place, a decent invoicing system, a marketing plan or any of those essentials required to run a successful business.

I was of course up for the challenge! Building my business was my learning ground.

I was thrown into the deep end when it came to sales and discovered a natural love for this environment. Having always worked in a sales and marketing arena on the admin side certainly did open doors for me in terms of growing my business.

Then I discovered that having the ability to market oneself was a huge blessing. As it turns out, one of the key skills lacking in this industry is the ability to craft a winning marketing plan to gain new clients. I’m very grateful for those Virtual Assistants-turned Coaches and Trainers who were willing to share their expertise with the rest of us. Being able to learn from them helped pave the way to a successful agency.

...and the interest to join my team.

I started realising the value I could bring by helping other entrepreneurs and business owners with managing their day and time. At the end of the day I truly want to see everyone around me succeed, whether it be colleagues or clients.

How much the landscape has changed since 2008, when apps like Slack and Dropbox were unknown. And now we can hardly run our businesses without it.

We went from running an ad on an online directory, to creating a full-blown marketing campaign using platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn. These platforms have brought the four corners of the world closer together, allowing us to engage and improve the lives of those around us, no matter where we find ourselves.

Now we can revel in the delight of working remotely. You could very easily go for a cup of joe and sit at the coffee shop for a couple of hours getting your work done and your client would be none the wiser, as the quality of work still remains high.

I’m so grateful that I was placed on this path in 2008, with an innocent request from a client to handle his account. If it weren’t for him, who knows where I would find myself today.

Learn more about Karen and her business here!


Karen Wessels

Karen Wessels

Co-Founder & CEO at VA Connect
Karen Wessels is a business woman and co-founder of VA Connect, the largest Virtual Assistant Agency on the African continent.

Karen comes from a sales, marketing and admin focused background, so she really gets how to build a business successfully from the ground up.

Karen hosts regular sales strategy workshops to assist other entrepreneurs with building and growing their businesses. Her passion for people and helping them succeed is the essence of VA Connect. As a working mom she understands the need for an extra pair of hands and has built this agency around that vision.

VA Connect’s exclusively South African VA’s are in high demand and they service an international client base. For more details on how VA Connect can add time to your day and get you working ON your business instead of IN your business, then visit their website.
Karen Wessels
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