Chief Wench gets greasy
Breaking down in the middle of the night on a deserted street is any woman's worst nightmare. Unless you're 29 year old Niven Postma, in which case you'll don a wrench and spanner and escape the ordeal with nothing more than a grease smudge on your cheeks_
You can call Niven many things from a car fundi to a new ear fighter of women's rights. One thing's for sure though, the next generation of mechanics better hope their female customers haven't attended Niven's motor vehicle course.
Niven's passion for understanding the technical aspects of how a car works was forced on her every time she took her car in for a service or repair. Today she's forgotten her days as a strategy consultant and instead runs her own car workshops - strictly women only.
"It's a sad fact that women are generally charged 10 to 15 percent more than a man for the same car repair job," states Niven, adding that the female species are partly to blame for this type of crookery.
"Mechanics tell you what's wrong with your car and how much it is going to cost and you have no choice but to trust them and hope they aren't ripping you off."
Tired of going to mechanics and being treated like a "načve sucker", Niven donned a toolbox, notebook and as much tenacity as she could conjure and hounded garage mechanics watching them fix cars.
After gaining more knowledge about cars and how they worked, she decided to share her findings with others. She started a one-day automotive class on Saturdays called Spanner and Wench, teaching women the basics of how their cars work and how to recognise and prevent problems.
"My aim is not to turn women into mechanics. Rather, the course helps women get over the mental block that makes them believe that car parts are on a par with rocket science," she laughs. "It teaches preventative maintenance, as 15 minutes of monthly maintenance prevents 70% of highway breakdowns."
The course is limited to a maximum of 12 people, so that individual attention can be given.
"I have the utmost faith this business will take off as there's a huge gap in the market for this sort of thing," she says. "I can never see myself becoming a mechanic in the future but I'd like to hook up with a venture capital firm and open up garages all over South Africa under my business name, Spanner and Wench."
Details: 837 3858 or 083 326 2705
Name: Niven Postma
Sideline: Norwood Police Reservist
Claim to fame: Started own business called Spanner and Wench - workshops held all over Johannesburg, teaching women about cars and how to avoid problems.
Guidelines to fix certain problems yourself
Changing a tyre:
How to check your car battery:
How to jump start a car:
Always keep the following on you: A cellphone, AA membership card, spare tyre, spare wheel, jumper cables, jack, torch, wet wipes, distilled water, spanner and wrench.