Bertha Mkhize was born in 1889 in Embo, near Mkhomazi. Her father, an ox wagon driver died when Bertha was about four years old, after his death her family moved to Inanda. She was one of the first students to attend the Inanda Seminary and thereafter went to Ohlange Institute. Bertha was a teacher until she was about thirty years old, trained as a tailoress and then started a tailoring business in Durban with her brother, also a tailor. She stayed in business until 1965 when the Durban City Council forced African businesses to move out of the area.