JOHANNESBURG - Two young entrepreneurs who ditched their nine to five jobs to pursue financial freedom have singled out motivation as the key ingredient to starting your own business.
After working for two of South Africa's five big banks, in the business banking and mobile payments space, then moving to pay television, looking after digital payments and thereafter working for a giant pay scheme that focuses on prepaid cards, 30-year-old Busi Mavunga felt the strong need to branch out on her own.
Mavunga runs three businesses, including AWEddingday which she started in 2016. She hires out table decor with an African theme, ranging from vases to table runners and napkins rings made from printed fabric sourced from different countries across the continent.
"Entrepreneurship has flown through my veins since I was a youngster," Mavunga said. "I had a mini "spaza" shop selling sweets and Cokes to neighbours at Orlando Gardens. In high school I loved the fundraising activities."
The inspiration for the decor business came from her wedding in 2015, when Mavunga struggled to find the African decor she wantedfor the reception. She decided to go out and buy her own fabric so that a vendor could make African-themed table runners and napkin rings.
In 2017 Mavunga expanded her business, creating a new division called “LoveTEAtime”, where she imported tea from Kenya under the brand Kericho Gold and sold it at pop-up markets and expos.
She is currently expanding to retailers, including several SPAR outlets and ecommerce seller Takealot.
Mavunga has not stopped there.
“I have taken my love for payments and people and created a thought leadership publication called Inclusion focusing on driving inclusion from different aspects of life from financial, digital to gender, cultural and racial - through different initiatives such as workshops, reading material, product sampling," she said.
Like Mavunga, Khaya Ngcobo, 35, also worked in the banking sector before starting Remit Logistics, and says he has been happier since leaving the corporate world despite the challenges that come with opening your own business.
"It's not as glamorous as some of the guys in slim fitted suits and happy socks make it out to be, but its more liberating, challenging and motivating," he said.
MORE MOTIVATION OUTSIDE CORPORATE SPACE
"Waking up was more difficult while I was working for a company; you wake up because you have to and you are getting paid. Now there’s more motivation because you are creating something and creating a legacy for your children and that drives a person. There is peace of mind."
Gauteng-based Remit Logistics is a courier and errand-running business which offers personal door to door services. Ngcobo started it with just his vehicle and time as resources.
“I’ve always wanted to start a business and I grew up in a family that ran a business," he said.
"In corporate, it was fine in the beginning but there was always that hunger to do things on my own, so in 2015 there was restructuring at work and the opportunity for me to do things on my own came about.”
Both Ngcobo and Mavunga have not ruled out going back to the corporate sphere, but say “it’s not the first option”.
One of the reasons Mavunga left that world was that because she felt it killed creativity by keeping people in a box and barring them from challenging the status quo through the mantra "this is how we have always done it”.
“There are a lot of gatekeepers of growth from micro-managers to company (rules) that you have to get your manager's approval first before applying for a job in another department," she said.
Mavunga also found that company policies favoured one gender over another, for example through lower bonuses for women taking maternity leave.
"There is lack of transformation for a country that’s majority black, a country that’s half female in gender," she said.
"The 'rainbow nation' image is not visible at corporate level," Mavunga added, using the term coined by Archbishop Desmond Tutu to describe the new South Africa after the fall of racially-division apartheid rule.
Ngcobo says running your own business allows for more growth than working for an established company, where the route to success is heavily dependent on others.
"You are limited, promised rewards that don’t materialise and it becomes demoralising,” Ngcobo said.
For Mavunga, started her business has been "a journey of finding inner peace, a journey of rebuilding my confidence".
"I’m on a journey of pushing my passion, I’m on a journey of detoxing from corporate," she said. "I’ve pressed the reset button."
- African News Agency (ANA)