Township entrepreneur shares lessons

BUSINESS values, competition and collaboration with the community were some of the topics at yesterday’s Cape Times Breakfast in Khayelitsha.

The breakfast was a collaborative initiative with Nedbank to look at the challenges and opportunities of doing business in townships.

Cape Town’s World Economic Forum Social Entrepreneur for 2016, Luvuyo Rani, was the guest speaker. The Silulo Ulutho Technologies managing director and co-founder faced debt, robbery and tough compromises to own 40 businesses in Cape Town and the Eastern Cape.

Rani started his business selling computers out of the boot of his car and went on to train people how to use computers.

“When looking at your business values, you have to ask yourself if you are driven by money or driven by change. Sometimes when you partner with a big business, you can become one of the numbers,” said Rani.

Rani said the high cost of rent was often the reason bigger businesses had the upper hand.

“"Only 12 years after starting my own business I was able to afford to pay the rent." But he advised businesses to use the system to position themselves favourably.

"When he started, he took advantage of being the only local business that could provide IT services at an affordable price."

One of the challenges Rani did not experience while running a township business was jealousy from the community.

“I believe success attracts success. When I was robbed of all my money at my business last year, I was angry and traumatised.”

Robbers made off with all the shop’s money and material.

“I was so angry at the community and had to go for counselling. But there was so much support and people who prayed for me. Today when I get someone working at Woolworths who said they would not have gotten the job without my help, I know why I am here.”