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Entrepreneurs In Various Gauteng Townships Are Empowering Themselves And Others

  • 5 min read

Ask any entrepreneur, and they will tell you that creating opportunities for others is one of their biggest rewards.

Particularly in a country like South Africa where unemployment is at a record high of 34.4%, job creation, brings a sense of accomplishment for business owners as they can make the world a better place for others. 

Ignetious Kgomo, a 43-year-old pastor and businessman from Tembisa in Johannesburg, believes it is the responsibility of those in a position to do so, to help empower those who cannot help themselves if they are in a position to do so.

Since 2015, Kgomo has delivered food parcels to communities on behalf of the South African National Defence Force in Pretoria.

“When you become a business owner, yes, you generate income for your own family, but it also enables other people to put something on the table,” he says.

Now, thanks to global mobile brand itel, the father of two teenage children is able to add to his roster of employees.

Kgomo recently took ownership of a mobile shipping container donated by itel in Tembisa, as part of its programme to empower township traders around South Africa.

As part of their itel my story campaign, which celebrated Heritage month by allowing ordinary South Africans to tell their stories of triumph over adversity, part of the response was providing opportunities of empowerment through entrepreneurship.

“We believe that in order for the country to reduce its record unemployment rate of 34.4%, small business owners need to be afforded support through the provision of proper infrastructure and skills,” says Zikona Captain, PR Manager of itel Mobile SA.

The containers give entrepreneurs a solid and visible base of operations for their businesses, with each customised to the needs of the specific trade. Each is fully equipped with electricity, a steady water supply and plumbing.

Kgomo, who admires President Cyril Ramaphosa for his ability to juggle his leadership of the country with his business interests, says he now has an employee working full-time from the container.

“We have managed to create a job opportunity for someone. This container also allows us to do things we have not done before.

Kgomo is living proof that a will to succeed can lead to people owning their own businesses. Of course there will be hiccups along the way, but with the right attitude, anyone can start to trade, he says.

“You can start small, as long as you have intention. Young people should have that desire. Even when things are not working out, you should still have that passion.”

In Cosmos City, 33-year-old Michael Tsime, who offers quarters, chicken, rice and maize meal as well as household cleaning products to the community, is taking a leaf out of the book of Italtile chair Giovanni Ravazzotti, his role model.

Tsime is one of the hundreds of thousands of South Africans who lost his job in the Covid-19 economic decline, is determined to not only improve his own circumstances, but those of others around him.

“I decided to start my own business in 2020 so that I can employ people. I can also support my family and make an income for myself so I can grow,” the father-of-two says.

By his own admission, he is still learning his way.

“My big challenge is balancing stock. Sometimes I get stock, sometimes it is short. This is the challenge. You also have to look at what other business owners are doing and find out what they sell.

Often you discover that the one is cheaper than the other, and you don’t know why they are getting their stock cheaper. As a result, you get fewer customers because you are more expensive.” 

The container donated by itel, however, is making a world of difference to other aspects of his business.

“It is actually wonderful. My container is secure. I used to knock off at 5pm, now I can work until 7 or 8pm because my container is secure. This container is going to grow my business and allow me to employ more people,” concludes Tsime.

Another Cosmos City resident who is just starting out on her business journey is Sara Maake, a 31-year-old mother of two.

Even at school, she knew that she wanted to be a businesswoman one day.

“I am so excited to get my container from itel, I can already see my dreams coming true as a businesswoman. I am going to be selling Russians [sausages] and chips from my container,” she says.

PR Manager of itel SA, Zikona Captain believes the containers can help entrepreneurs to start businesses that will empower them, their families and their communities.

“This project is particularly important and exciting as we are creating opportunities of empowerment as opposed to providing charity. The establishment of these businesses will allow the rand to continue to recirculate in the township.

We believe that in  a society with high unemployment, it is vital that entrepreneurship is allowed to flourish, and we are thrilled to be able to assist in fostering this culture, either through investments such as these or democratising technology by making it accessible to all through our affordable devices,” she says.