Bringing entrepreneurs together to help grow
JOHANNESBURG - Canny businessman Lwanga Cengimbo doesn’t regret throwing his life savings and a "huge" resignation package into starting his company Hustlepreneur.
It is a networking organisation that brings together entrepreneurs through monthly business seminars in township areas, where they share information on anything and everything pertaining to entrepreneurship, such as incubation, funding, mentorship, market access, and sponsorships, among others.
Cengimbo, from Vosloorus township in the east of Johannesburg, says they invite various industry leaders, pioneers, and astute business people to address the gatherings, proving popular among those wanting to grow and upscale their businesses.
He has modelled Hustlepreneur to walk in the footprints of Startup Grind, a global startup community aimed at educating, inspiring and connecting entrepreneurs.
"That company was started in Silicon Valley. Now they are in more than 350 cities globally," says Cengimbo, 27.
“We want to emulate them by starting something from Africa and spreading it to the rest of the world.”
Hustlepreneur is funded by Cengimbo’s other company, Lwanga Productions, a photography and videography services firm.
He started the production company after five years of working as a video librarian for MultiChoice, a leading video entertainment and internet company in Randburg.
“In 2016 I decided to start my own thing and venture out and see if I can’t do it on my own,” he says.
“I had a lot of money that I got from MultiChoice as part of my package which I used to set up the company.”
No sooner had the company got off the ground than it started running into challenges including low client base and clients asking for discounts, among others.
“I soon realised that having a nice camera and a nice studio doesn’t make you a good businessman,” he recalls.
Cengimbo started attending business seminars in order to keep his business afloat. “Most, if not all, of these seminars were held at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand, Rosebank or at the Sandton Convention Centre,” says Cengimbo.
“None of them were held in the townships. That’s when the idea of Hustlepreneur came about. I decided to start something where I will bring these entrepreneurs to us so that they are more accessible to the township folk.”
“Simply put,” says Cengimbo, “the idea for Hustlepreneur started after learning how tough it is to be independent and how lonely the entrepreneurial journey is. Our core value is to help recognise the entrepreneurs’ hustle”.
Some of the business leaders that have addressed their seminars include Skinny Sbu socks founder and head designer Sbu Ngwenya, among others.
“We make money from Lwanga Productions and fund Hustlepreneur. The business is growing because we understand our market,” says Cengimbo, adding that some of the organisations they are working with include the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller, The Innovation Hub, and the Small Enterprise Finance Agency.
They were still trying to get the National Youth Development Agency onboard, he says, as well as other government organisations.
Cengimbo says they have since bagged their first sponsorship deal with point of sale provider Yoco.
“We are obviously planning to have more sponsors onboard. We are also planning to host, say three seminars per month in Gauteng, and hopefully move to the rest of South Africa before taking on the world.”
Cengimbo speaks frankly about the struggles of starting and running a business in the townships. He says people tend to take that lightly.
“Hustlepreneur is our way of saying to the business you think is small could be scaled to become a force to be reckoned with.”
He adds: “Most of these young people find themselves with dreams and visions of bettering their communities and families but lack the social knowledge and skills, the core resources needed, to keep a business afloat. Most of them end up giving up and disowning their dreams, not due to a lack of funding but due to a lack of guidance and advice.”
Due to a lack of guidance, Cengimbo almost found himself in a wrong profession. He says his mother Zukiswa Cengimbo “forced” him to study HR in 2009 but dropped out after 12 months because “it just wasn’t my thing”.
He subsequently landed his first job at a Cash Converters outlet in Boksburg, making a measly R15 an hour, before moving to MultiChoice, where he got his big break.
- BUSINESS REPORT