Gaishrie Sharon Singh got her first taste of entrepreneurship at the age of 11 when she bought and sold vegetables at the Verulam Market in KwaZulu-Natal. Today, she is the founder of the Institute of Metaphysical Science – an organisation run with the intention of bringing universal tools and knowledge to people so they may be able to access their full potential. Paved with poverty, divorce and racial discrimination, Gaishrie’s road to success wasn’t easy.
“As a child, I made promises to my younger brother that when I grow up, I will make a better life for the family. I made the same promises to my children and pushed against my outer limits to ensure that my daughters did not experience any financial hardships. It was my duty to make sure they attended the best schools and made the most out of every opportunity that came their way. I became a single mother while my children were very young, so I had to work extra hard. I never really worked to achieve, but rather worked to put food on the table and to educate my daughters,” shares Gaishrie.
Gaishrie hails from a farming community in KZN where her family lived off the grid – no electricity and running water, and an outside toilet and bathroom. She attended a primary school that was started by the community and with only a few built classrooms. Most of these schooling years were spent being taught under a tree. “The school itself had no water and electricity, so on dark rainy days we would be sent home,” she recalls. “After completing matric, I married into a family who lived close by, and suffered under the same conditions as we did. I had a very challenging life and following my divorce in the mid-90s, I embarked on a mission of self-discovery, which started out with workshops and spiritual courses.”
Marriage was not the only thing on the cards for Gaishrie after matric. She worked in a legal firm while studying and simultaneously starting various small businesses. “I worked in the legal fraternity for about 14 years before eventually taking the entrepreneurial route. Since then, I have started, invested in, and explored various business ventures.”
“Growing up, I lived in a racially segregated rural town, so everyone around me was Indian. It was only when I went to work in Durban [the city] in what was then referred to as a “white” firm, did I experience what the real working world was for people of colour, especially women. Apartheid laws meant that people were regarded superior to me based on the colour of their skin. My white secretary earned a higher salary than I did and when I raised the issue, I was told that I was lucky to find employment in a white firm,” she says. “I naïvely believed that when Nelson Mandela walked free in 1992 that the struggle was over. It’s sad to see that glass ceilings still exist in the legal fraternity. There are many successful black attorneys, advocates and litigators, yet disproportionate representation continues to exist in large firms.”
In 2008, she received the Business Women’s Association Achievers Award and from there went on to win multiple awards locally and internationally. Like other businesswomen, Gaishrie has experienced her share of highs and lows over the years and she has not been immune to the Covid-19 pandemic. “My businesses have been closed since the implementation of lockdown. However, for a few years now I have said that major shifts are to be expected. Cleansing is taking place, of which the world is in desperate need. With this understanding, I have been able to take the negative effects of the pandemic in my stride knowing that this “cleansing” is for the greater good of mankind, regardless of how unsettling it is. Coming from no money, I understand how important it is, but it is not my main focus in life.”
Journey of self-discovery
As the founder of the Institute of Metaphysical Science, Gaishrie is a firm believer in the theory of Metaphysical Science in regard to humankind: a set of techniques geared towards a greater understanding of universal laws/truths and how these are applied to life and living. When applied correctly and diligently, these techniques lead to a connection between one’s self and the universe, the manifestation of general well-being, and greater understanding of life and a sense of peace.
“Initially, through the Institute, I worked with abused women and children. I then began attracting clients from different walks of life – distressed business people; people struggling with relationships, addiction, abuse, self-esteem issues; people who were simply in search of their life’s purpose. I always maintained that I teach that which I need to learn the most. I became hungry for even more knowledge and undertook the study of neuro-linguistic programming and neuro-semantics, emotional empowerment techniques, regression therapy, clinical hypnotherapy and various other integrated healing modalities including fire walking. Studying metaphysics in its totality was the ultimate.”
Empowerment equals growth
When she isn’t running her businesses, Gaishrie spends her time empowering unemployed individuals to be self-reliant by teaching them business skills, for example, how to set up food gardens and micro-franchise. She also facilitates workshops at disadvantaged schools on topics ranging from teenage anger management to self-respect.
Gaishrie counts herself privileged to be well-travelled. “I can tell you that people from all walks of life whether from first-world or third-world countries, affluent or not, all have the same underlying fear… loss. The rich are afraid to lose their money; the poor are afraid of going hungry; the affluent are afraid to lose their power.”
She says that irrespective of who they are, people find it challenging to live in the moment – to acknowledge that their future is created on how they live each of these moments. “Everybody is waiting for the next hour, the next day, or the next month to be happy. This never comes and you find yourself stuck in a never-ending cycle. Your moment is now,” Gaishrie concludes.