tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg July 30, 2016 1:00pm-2:01pm EDT
let's meet sonia cheng. ♪ haslinda: with properties from new york to beijing, sonia cheng is taking rose woods altra luxury hotels to the next level. ♪ haslinda: they have welcomed everyone from rockstar legends to heads of state to hot shots in the corporate world, but that is not enough. she is learning to double rosewood's portfolio and make an -- make a massive push into asia. >> good to see you. haslinda: time now for this high flyer to join us and map out the luxury route ahead. ♪ haslinda: sonia cheng, welcome to highfliers.
it sonia: thank you. haslinda: he took over the company at the ripe old age of 29. you have been pretty aggressive in your strategy. i mean, you talk about the carlyle hotel in new york, other iconic hotels including the one in paris. were you trying to prove a point? sonia: yeah, i think that when i started, i am sure because of my age, and that i don't have the standard resume of a hotel professional, people were probably questioning if i could do it. i think that really incentivized me, and pushes me to achieve the goals and the vision that we were setting out to do. haslinda: it was new world hospitality, that was the brand. but when you took over rosewood, you decided to use the rosewood brand. why? sonia: the rosewood brand is known more globally so we thought it is more appropriate to use it as our umbrella brand. haslinda: and you have always
wanted a luxury hotel brand as well. that has always been your vision. rosewood just fitted quite nicely. sonia: absolutely. when i started eight or nine years ago, i wanted to create a luxury brand from scratch. i have a vision, i have a concept of the brand. the rosewood beijing property was supposed to be my first flagship of this luxury brand. i even had a name for it. haslinda: and the name was? i might even create another brand for that name. it was a vision i was having and the concept aligned and everything complemented each other and fit perfectly. i believe the rosewood at the time had so much potential to be an even greater brand. haslinda: your grandfather, cheng yu-tung, he decided to get into the hotel business because he couldn't get the service he needed or wanted when he was in the hotel once.
he wanted a glass of milk, but could not get someone to deliver it to him so he thought, i can do it better. how much inspiration do you get from your granddad? sonia: a lot. he has been a wonderful role model for me. when you work within the company you understand how much respect , my grandfather has because he is so down to earth, he is so humble even though he is such a , successful businessman. that kind of humility is very inspiring for me, and how he created such a loyal group of people who work for him. i think it is very important. at the same time, the fact that he has the long-term vision of creating these landmarks in hong , the inspiresina me to also create something of my own, and is something different. haslinda: it is a family business. was there apprehension? when you had the vision, was dad or granddad nervous?
sonia: no, they were very supportive. when my grandfather and dad started, they were one of the most successful visionaries and -- visionaries in the hotel space. they were the first people that developed luxury hotel in china. the hotels they developed in hong kong have been able to set standards for the hotel industry for years to come so they have become a role model for me. when i started with this company, what i wanted to the -- what think they see i wanted to create, i think they see similarities of what they wanted to do 23 years ago. they have been such a great inspiration and i wanted to, three generations down, achieve something similar. haslinda: you are possibly the youngest, if not one of the youngest hotel ceos out there. one of a few, very few women in the industry. how difficult was it for you ?tarting out
there were definitely challenges in the beginning so what i did, i disregard what other people think. i just go with my gut, go with what i believe in, and in the beginning i took a crash course on hotels. i studied sales and marketing and the hotel operation, how does a kitchen work, how does human resources work. so, within a short few months, it was a very steep learning curve. and it actually propelled me to work harder to make up for some of the standard experience that i should have. but i do not believe it is something that is necessary because i bring a different perspective, i think, to the industry and it complements with , the team of professionals i have hired which have 30 and 40 years of experience. haslinda: truth be told, you always wanted to be different even and harvard when economics was popular you chose to read , applied mathematics.
so, you have always wanted to be different. sonia: yeah, i take that is my character. i think i have always wanted to stand out of the crowd. i do not want to go with the flow. and like with rosewood, i push the team to always be ahead of others, to always go out and explore because the whole industry is constantly evolving. haslinda: be a millennium yourself do you think that is an -- being a millennial yourself, do you think that is an advantage? do you think you know the inspiration of your generation? sonia: i think it helps that i am in that age category. i think that age category complements very well with my team, who are more seasoned hotel professionals. i think had been in that age category, being in the younger generation i keep a very open , mind and i see things , differently and i bring a , different perspective. i do think that the new
generation do look at things differently. they get attracted to different channels, for example. when we look at marketing in the past, traditional advertising, print is the way to go but now we should be focusing on social media, we should be focusing more on the digital channel. we should look at the different strategies of advertising at ing and positioning ourselves. haslinda: what is the key to playing with the big boys, to being a global band -- brand? sonia: i think hiring the right people, holding the right culture is very important component of creating a successful hotel brand. ♪ haslinda: next on highfliers -- sonia: they are not looking for glitz and glam anymore. it is not about chandeliers. haslinda: no chandeliers. ♪
sonja, when you acquired rosewood you talked , about taking the brand to the next level. what is that? when we acquired the brand, which was five years ago rosewood has been a very , established brand in the u.s. mostly in the u.s., mexico, the caribbean, it has been a brand that has been established for 30 years. we think this philosophy really resonates with today's affluent travelers, and we wanted to take the brand across and introduce the brand to other parts of the world in asia and europe. so, when we acquired the brand with our background and connection in asia, we thought it is a great marriage to bring the brand across through asia and introduces wonderful philosophy to this part of the world. haslinda: what is that
philosophy? what is the rosewood dna? you are talking about the next wave of travelers. sonia: nowadays, the affluent travelers are not looking for the traditional glitz and glam anymore. it is not about chandeliers in the hotels. haslinda: no chandeliers? [laughter] sonia: no chandeliers in the hotel. it is all about the experience that you give to the guest and the customers. and it is about personalizing the experience and creating a special experience for our guests. for example we launched , rosewood, the brand in asia two years ago in beijing, and rosewood beijing has been a very successful flagship and introducing the brand to our guests. possibly we get great guest constantly, we get great guest feedback saying we just want to stay in the hotel all day because we provide such a great experience. we bring the culture and sense of place of beijing and to the hotel. haslinda: including the restaurants.
sonia: we do not create typical hotel restaurants. we create standalone restaurants that are inspired by the local cuisine. we cater to the local residents of beijing. local residents of beijing, so it becomes a destination for the local people. so, we bring the culture into the hotel rather than having the guest go out. that is the ideal and the experience, the journey we want to create. haslinda: your strategy in the next five to 10 years, i know there are a lot of expansions planned. share with us. sonia: we have 16 hotels in the pipeline under construction so our target is to double the portfolio in the next five years. we are very selective when choosing our next hotel. we want them in the right location, the right city. we do not want to be a cookie-cutter hotel chain. you want to be a special collection of really, truly
landmark properties. so that is our strategy for rosewood. we want to be one of the leading hotel operators and asia. our lifestyle hotel brand is really a fun, edgy lifestyle brand targeting the next generation of travelers that are much more liberal, much more open-minded. it is not stuffy. it is introducing the informal hospitality to this new generation. we have 27 around the world at the moment, and we are targeting to double the size and the next couple of years as well. haslinda: what are you looking for in a location? are there attributes it must have? , a goodefinitely location is very important. haslinda: history? sonia: history will be an advantage so sometimes we look at heritage buildings that have a strong culture, and a strong story the hind it. something very attractive to us.
rosewood london was open in a building that was built in the 1920's and it has a beautiful courtyard, has a very strong history. it all fits. we also look at exotic resort locations. ed to explore locations in terms of resorts that are untapped as well as the ones that are very popular as well. so, it depends on the location and the vision of the owner, , whether we are aligned, and the program as well. haslinda: you have a very strong and experienced management team. was it difficult putting that team in place? you have people with 30 years experience in the industry. sonia: it was definitely not easy. i remember when i just started, this company was about eight years ago. was 28.ht years ago, i 28, 29.
i was supposed to run this company. i was supposed to create this brand and create this wonderful portfolio and have the vision. and at that time, i did not know anything about hotels. i grew up surrounded by hotels that my family has been developing for a long time, but actually being in a hotel and running a business, it was definitely my first time. so, to convince this team of professionals where they are the best professionals in the industry from all of the successful, international brands, to come over was a very , challenging task. it takes a lot of persuasion. haslinda: what was the selling point? sonia: i think it was very exciting for them to be part of a young company where they can really roll up their sleeves and create a culture from scratch, and create what they really believe in, and what they are passionate for, and build their own team, and be a cofounder
almost. they are not just working for a big hotel company but they are part of the making of a brand. haslinda: is it more difficult getting talent in asia versus the europe -- versus the u.s., europe? sonia: i think different regions have different challenges. at the end of the day it is , about creating an environment where associates are very passionate about what they do. they believe in the vision, they believe in the dream, and you allow them to have the opportunity to grow. for them, it is very important, particularly for the young generations. they want to know what their career path will be. they want to know that they will be moving along. i think it is about engaging them and giving them opportunities. and for us, the senior leadership, my philosophy is that we are very down to earth. we engage our people to be part of the creation of the company so i think that is something , that is very important, and great loyalty within the company. haslinda: coming up --
♪ haslinda: you have achieved so much in about 5, 6 years. is it increasingly difficult to meet expectations, exceed expectations? and you are a go getter as well. you set a really high bar for yourself. is it difficult? sonia: you know, it is a great challenge. when you continuously raise your bar, it is something that we push ourselves to achieve because i think the industry is constantly evolving, things are changing very fast, and we have to push ourselves to move forward. we have to be continuously ahead of others, that is the goal we set for ourselves. haslinda: growing up you had the , best of both worlds, east and west. you were educated in harvard.
how does that help you develop a global perspective? sonia: yes. i grew up in hong kong so i have a very strong asian values. my family is very traditional, they are very chinese. so i think that sets a very good , foundation in terms of the values that i believe in. and then when i was 13, 14, i went to boarding school in the united states and i spent eight years there. i think the land of the east and west -- i think the blend of east and west has helped the way i manage my company and the way i see the business, both international, having an international view as well as very strong asian values is very important, particularly in this industry. it is already globalized. so asia, being such a strong feeder market to the west and being able to understand the culture in asia and how asian
people think, and the philosophy, it helps as well. haslinda: it is. asian and very chinese to consult the elders before making a decision. how much does that happen within the family before you make decisions for rosewood? is a very,my father i guess, i would say cool boss. [laughter] haslinda: and a cold that. sonia: he is not micromanaging. he actually gives you the freedom to build a business on your own. from time to time when it comes to major decisions we will need his approval, and i'm very transparent with him and very direct in terms of what needs to be done and what needs to be , reported. and of course, there will be ideas and incidents where we disagree, and i will not be afraid to speak out and voice my opinion. haslinda: but how our differences ironed out? sonia: usually i win. [laughter]
haslinda: because you are the daughter. sonia: no, no, no. because he is very experienced and he has a lot of strong business acumen so there's a lot i learned from him. one thing i make a conscious effort to do is listen to others. it is not always about what i think is right. there are so many people around me that have such great experience that you need to learn from, so, i listen a lot to my father. and at the end of the day, we would enter, we would argue, we would share ideas, and somehow come to a conclusion together that we are both involved with. haslinda: there is a chinese saying that wealth never survives three generations. your the third generation. it how do you view that? sonia: yes, i have heard that saying. -- in, there is definitely
have not failed yet and i hope that i will not, but there is a pressure to excel, and a pressure to succeed because seeing how my father has been so successful and my grandfather has been so successful, you do not want to be the person who pulls everything down. so there is a significant amount of pressure on your shoulders to legacy, and to create the next success story for the family. haslinda: you have proven to be very dedicated, very committed, because i remember you cut short your honeymoon to go back to work. what happened? passionate i am very about the business and very passionate about the brand we are creating. it so, there are certain sacrifices you have to make in your personal life. haslinda: and your husband was ok with it? sonia: he was ok with it, and i stand by the decision. it is so important to be there and to be present and to be
really hands-on and involved in , the business, and to work with a team very closely to create the business. haslinda: and it remains a juggling act. you are a mom of three. how do you spread yourself? it must be very thin. right? it must be tough. sonia: it is a challenge. i have three children and my oldest is three and a half, my youngest is five months. an the tasktely not to balance, but i think it is about how you make most of your time. it when i am at work, i really focus on being productive and make the most of my time at the office to do everything that i need to do about the business. and then when i'm with the children, i do not get distracted by were and i focus , 100% of my attention with the children as well. so that balance helps keep me , sane and keep me balanced. haslinda: do you see yourself as a role model?
at 35, mid-30's, you have achieved so much. you are probably seen as a role model to a lot of girls, women out there. do you see yourself as one? sonia: i am not sure if i am a role model because of my experience and the journey i've , had, i probably can give quite a bit of advice to younger girls and boys, not just girls. [laughter] sonia: for the next generation. hopefully they can learn from a , but for me, i still have a lot to learn. there is a lot of room for me to grow as well and i'm constantly , looking for different learning opportunities, and constantly looking to discover new experience and ideas. haslinda: your own ambitions for yourself maybe 10, 15 years from now, if you were to look back , what would you like people to ore i guess, admire you for,
acknowledge the achievements of? sonia: 10, 15 years down the road i would love rosewood to be the hotel brand that everyone is talking about. that we are the trendsetters, we are a company that everyone would love to work for. we are the role model that everyone looks up to. so 10, 15 years down the road if that is something i have created, i will be very, very happy and very proud. haslinda: sonia cheng, thank you so much. sonia: thank you. ♪
narrator: the challenges facing our world are growing all the time. how do we build stronger economies with equal opportunities for all? how do we build a sustainable world for generations to come? how do we protect our cities and harness the power of technology for our common benefit? humanity has always been good at forward thinking. in this series, using the latest bloomberg research and analysis, we will make sense of the problems of tomorrow, sustainability, urbanization,
the gender gap, the march of the machines, and the demographic time bomb. and in this film, inequality. it is the issue that preoccupies economists, politicians, and campaigners. what does it mean for the security of our society and strength of our economies? ♪ narrator: our world is a divided and unequal place. >> in a competitive economy, you will always have some inequality, and those who are successful and those who are less so. the issue is the extreme. >> 1% of the wealthiest populations hold half of the world's wealth. 62 of the wealthiest people hold the same kind of wealth as the lowest 50% of the world
population. it is a very striking statistic. >> if you look at ceo pay, it has gone from 50 times the average worker 30 years ago to 300 times now, potentially not only an issue for investors, but an issue for workers. ♪ narrator: inequality has become the hot button economic issue of the 21st century, but worrying about inequality is not new. >> if we look way back into u.s. history, we saw dramatic income inequality in the gilded age, the 1880's and 1890's. and that went so far, then collapsed, and policies were put in place by a number of presidents and administrations to equalize the playing field. labor laws put in place, tax laws were changed, and that prevailed through the course of world war ii and into the
1960's. but then by the 1980's, tax laws were changed and the economy had changed, and so from the early 1980's to the present, we have seen income inequality on the rise. it matters because income inequality eventually contribute s to wealth inequality. with wealth comes power in terms of politics and corporate leadership and lots of different facets of the economy, and so when much wealth is held by a very few individuals within an economy or country, then those individuals tend to have an outsized degree of control over economic and political policymaking, and therefore they are able to incorporate policies that will even further increase their levels of wealth. narrator: inequality is about more than fairness. economists worry that extreme levels of inequality can have dramatic affect on corporation''
finances and governments. >> it really affects the pace at which the world economy is growing. so to give you an example, the wealthiest as they get more money, they spend less of the marginal dollar. so, this way, you get less consumption and consequently less growth in these economies. that is one kind of consequence. another thing is that lower and medium income families tend to work more to support their consumption and it creates risks. narrator: some of the most dramatic levels of inequality can be seen in the developing world. here, inequality appears to have a corrosive effect on the whole economy. >> something else we have seen in emerging markets is a correlation between inequality and corruption levels, where government is not effective, or
has good education in place to have everyone succeed. if you look at the arab spring in north africa and the middle east, the root cause was economic opportunity. if you have this extreme inequality and the lack of economic opportunity, you potentially have political unrest. narrator: if you are at the top of the pile, it is tempting to think inequality does not affect you. but this may be dangerously complacent. >> clearly inequality is bad for people at the bottom, especially at the bottom that is very low. at the top, there is a potential risk to what couldxtreme inequality bring? could it lead to political unrest, new rules, new taxation? in the short term, even if you are at the top of the economic pyramid, you may be very happy with your position, but long-term there is potential for
change which may be destabilizing. >> if you think about it in a broader sense and think about economic growth in future generations, it is the best thing because that actually could impact economic growth in the world, so i would say that it is a problem for everybody. narrator: one global economist is convinced that global inequality is dramatically affecting human life even in the richest part of the world, and if we want to maximize growth and social decision, it is an issue we cannot ignore anymore. >> absolute income inequality is where we have to have a debate. there are knock on effects, whether in education access, health care options, but also political and life expectancy challenges. it is very much the case that income equality is now a driver in some of these other factors.
the most hotly debated issues in economics from new york to nairobi. dambisa moyo is a global economist. her work for the world bank and wall street has named her one of the most influential people in the world. she is fascinated by the biggest trends in economics, from the politics of development in africa, to the price of commodities in china. now she is turning her attention to inequality. dambisa: income inequality is particularly problematic in as much as it is a defining factor in many societies for where a society's living standards are going. the data on income inequality has shown that it has grown worse over the last couple of decades. in fact, over the last 30 years, we have seen income equality worsen across the united states, the united kingdom, and across much of europe. in the same vein, we has seen the average income of the top 1% in the united states today is 30
times the average income of the rest of the population, the 99%. compare this with 30 years ago, 1978, when it was simply 10 times higher for the top 1%. ♪ narrator: economists worry that inequality ushers in a range of social problems. recent studies in mexico suggest that neighborhoods with high levels of inequality may suffer more violent crime than those where inequality is less pronounced. researchers in other nations have come to similar conclusions. dambisa: a problem with income inequality is the implications and impact it has on a society.
the question being is it possible for people of different income levels and without the prospect of improving their lives to live cheek by jowl? in the u.s., the bronx is the poorest congressional district in the united states, but it is also 20 minutes i train to one of the richest stops to the upper east side of manhattan. there are real questions around whether living cheek by jowl is actually long-term sustainable given the crime and destitution. there are knock on effects for other forms of inequality, such as health and education, and of course political inequality. in the united states,
approximately 158 families are responsible for approximately 50% of campaign funding around the u.s. elections. that really does pose a question about where democracy stands and how that might play into political representation of them in the democratic process. narrator: americans have always prided themselves on levels of social mobility within their country, the ability of people to get ahead whatever circumstances they were born into. but some recent evidence suggests that this is changing. dambisa: there is a more fundamental aspect to dealing with the income inequality challenge, which i argue involves social mobility. social mobility involves people's beliefs and access to improve living standards and their livelihood over a certain period of time. i think the cost of income equality is the breakdown of social mobility, particularly in western societies. to give you a flavor of that,
today in the united states, if you are born into the bottom 20% of the income level, then you have only 5% chance of ending up your life in the top 20% without a college degree. clearly that suggests that income inequality is widening, and i think also it shows that there is a real issue around social mobility and people's ability to transform their lives and move into higher levels of income. narrator: as well as hindering social mobility, extreme levels of income inequality may depress growth across whole economies. >> the reason that this is so important is that the oecd estimates that this is causing -- costing developed countries 8.5% gdp points over this period. put another way, because of income equality and the widening effects of the gap between the richest and poorest in the u.s. and across europe, we have seen gdp growth slow by 8.5% over the past 25 years. today, there are real concerns about how this bodes for the longer term in the future. a lot of projections now show that economic growth will be slowing, and obvously knock on effects of income equality are
likely to be worse. narrator: this means that inequality is not just a problem for those at the bottom of the economic pile. chronic income inequality may well affect the social and economic health of everyone. dambisa: if you are wealthy and living in an urban setting, for example, the fact that you are every day dealing with people who have that lower income level, but more importantly, have fewer prospects to improve their livelihood, has an absolute and direct impact on your safety, but also on your own living standard, to the extent that society as a whole will not be growing. and so it is not just about lower living standards for that proportion of society, it's about a lower living standards for the entirety of society because the growth of the society is highly linked to how
the average person in that society is performing. narrator: dambisa moyo believes that the key to tackling inequality lies in reactivating social mobility. but to do that, basic needs such as health and education must be catered for first. dambisa: i think the thing that is of paramount urgency is to ensure that all citizens, and particularly people who are at the lower levels of income, are seeing improvements in their living standards over the long period of time. the underlying challenges of income equality in a broader sense, which i would argue are hitched to the idea of social mobility and the challenges there. narrator: but social mobility is propelled by economic growth, and without economic growth, inequality will rise. dambisa: just to be absolutely clear on that, we need to aim for at least 7% gdp growth every year in order to double per capita income in one generation.
we are far below that target, so it is really the case that we do have real issues around what the long-term prospects for economic growth are. therefore what the long-term prospects of social mobility and our ability to reduce income inequality. narrator: if the problem of inequality is worrying for the west, then it is compounded in countries with fast-growing, young populations. if these economies are to have any chance of tackling inequality, they must create millions of jobs first. dambisa: beyond just the developed countries, there is a real concern around income inequality widening, particular in the faster growing, larger emerging market economies such as brazil, india, and south africa. today, there are approximate 85 million young people in emerging markets between 18-25 that are out of work.
if we are going to try to solve the income inequality challenges, we have to make sure we have growth, but we also have to make sure that we are providing incomes that are growing for this young population. we also have to make sure that people have improved access to education and to health care so that they have the social infrastructure to improve their lives and therefore support social mobility. without those factors, there is a real risk that living standards of not just the impoverished percentage of the population, but society as a whole starts to deteriorate. narrator: south africa is one of the most unequal countries in the world. here, the consequences of inequality on the safety of society are visible and real. but businesses are trying to restart social mobility and save the economy. ♪
narrator: inequality is one of the defining challenges of our age. in south africa, the most unequal country on the continent, its consequences can be seen in the continuing poverty of large parts of the country, and the visceral crime in the wealthiest suburbs. >> taking a look at the big picture and the well-being of a country in the long run, it is very unhealthy to have this dramatic distribution of wealth and inequality. it would not be a successful model to live in the world where the halves are isolated in communities with very high walls around those communities while the have-nots are sitting at the gates begging for table scraps. narrator: in south africa, there are more private security guards than police officers. they patrol the country's gated
suburbs in the most visible example of an unequal society. >> crime is bad, in your home, out of your home, basically all over. i don't want it to sound terrifying. we live with it and have good lives here, however, trying to keep your family safe, your home safe, has become more and more difficult, and that is what we focus on. narrator: css tactical is a johannesburg-based south african security firm employing 750 people. >> multiple layers of security. the vehicle is not just sitting under a tree waiting to be dispatched. they are present in the area, they are patrolling, driving up and down the streets, and we have very intelligent software that alerts to unusual behavior, so if you're walking down the street at 5:00 afternoon going
home from work, it's more normal than -- other than sitting under a tree waiting for an alarm to go off. narrator: fear of crime is splitting johannesburg in two, the city experienced over 21,000 burglaries last year. >> johannesburg is the financial capital, so hence a greater concentration of wealth and wealthy people and lots of stuff to steal, lots of stuff that you can see to steal. there is a massive difference between the haves and have-nots. unfortunately, people have seen the crime as a way to make a living. narrator: south africa is now more unequal than it was under apartheid. but some businesses across the country are actively trying to address this and get social mobility moving again. >> i was pregnant with my first daughter and i was at home. we lived on a farm, so i was
home during the day. i would talk to the ladies who worked in the fields next door and that sort of thing. and they were picking whatever, but they really had inside of -- had so much inside of them, but no opportunity to go anywhere. there was no opportunity for training or to get a bit further or anything. and also what i realized, there was no power possibility. erin, along with her sister, decided to set up a health spa. the plan was to recruit their staff from among the rural poor. >> it was literally a couple of ladies from the field next door, so everybody went home and found sisters that were unemployed. we trained them up. i realized the importance and what it could do in south africa, very quickly. realizing the amount of lives you could change.
narrator: christine buthelezi was one of the first women who was employed. christine: i was on my way, i remember one weekend, going to church, then i met a maid who gave me a lift. she started chatting to me, are you working, what are you doing at the moment, are you still at school and everything? i said, no, i'm working at a farm, a chicken farm. we were paid like 20 per day. then she said, but why don't you come and join? after a week, i said i've got nothing to lose, so i went for my training. from there, i started working at the spa as a therapist. i started at the bottom. i really enjoyed it. within three months, i moved into becoming one of the managers, and then within a year, i was promoted to be a general manager, which for me is such growth in such a small time.
narrator: it has become a prolific job creation scheme. expanding across south africa and propelling women like christine from rural poverty to senior managerial positions. >> we estimate that we have trained about 20,000 people. we had ladies who have been with us for eight years to nine years and had reached the top. they were now managers. i am also proud to say that every single one of our spas is run by a lady who came up through the ranks. narrator: she is going further, rolling out plans across her 20 spas to give shares of the business to employees. >> at the moment, i own 30% of the business. i wanted them to be part of the business, because when you're doing that many treatments, you are giving so much of yourself. narrator: by training staff, giving them a route to move up, and offering them a stake in their own business, she helps to tackle inequality in south africa.
>> i can look after my kids. i can look after my family. we've got so many families that we take care of, like i am a breadwinner at home. everybody depends on me. as much as you have the other people that are working, but most of the time, i am the one who is taking that whole responsibility, so it has given us hope. it has made us dreamers. narrator: inequality has come to define south africa's economy, but if more can be done to reactivate social mobility, there's a chance it won't be the case for long. >> when households are in a grinding state of poverty, they can contribute a whole lot to -- can't contribute a whole lot to economic well-being. so as lower income demographics
are lifted up into working-class or middle-class thresholds, they tend to be better educated, less crime, much stronger family structure, and they tend to be a lot more productive in terms of the economy. and they also consume and invest a lot more as well. a strong middle class, a strong working-class, is really the backbone of a healthy democracy. >> i am cautiously optimistic about the future. i believe that the path towards a world of economic growth, of social mobility, and improved income inequality statistics, is possible, but not without there being hard choices. whether it's improving social mobility, increasing growth, we have to address those actors to avoid a situation where a society and members of society affected -- di