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Success story: From earning R1 a day as a gardener to a business owner

Timothy Makhathini spent four years as a gardener, a job he started while he was still a pupil and earning just R1. Today he owns his own photography business and a B&B to support his six children. | Supplied

Timothy Makhathini spent four years as a gardener, a job he started while he was still a pupil and earning just R1. Today he owns his own photography business and a B&B to support his six children. | Supplied

Published May 13, 2022

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Durban - A KwaZulu-Natal man went from earning R1 a day as a gardener as a child to owning his own photography business and running a B&B to support his six children.

That is the story of Timothy Makhathini, 54, who lives in Mtunzini on the KZN North Coast.

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Makhathini spent four years as a gardener, a job he started while he was still a pupil. But his life changed in the late 1980s when he started a photography business, Tim Mobile Studio.

It was the photos that he took at a beauty contest in 1986 that propelled his side hustle into a fully-fledged business that enabled him to buy a house to run as a B&B and support his six children.

“My business began in 1986 and started flourishing in 1988. The past 33 years have not been smooth. However, they have been fulfilling, and I am glad my business is still up and running successfully,” Makhathini said.

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Timothy Makhathini spent four years as a gardener, a job he started while he was still a pupil and earning just R1. Today he owns his own photography business and a B&B to support his six children. | Supplied

He covers a range of events and functions such as weddings, local beauty contests and street photography. He also takes portraits for identity documents, licences and passports.

Today, Makhathini employs three people.

He said his first camera, which he bought in Grade 8, did not have a name, but it was like a disposable camera.

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“It was half the size of my palm, and it had no viewfinder! My second camera was a Praktica. I doubt they make those anymore,” he reminisced.

Makhathini said his passion for photography and the people he has worked with got him to where he was today.

“They have played a massive role in helping me grow my businesses, and without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” he said.

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Makhathini has shown that you can turn your passion into profit with tenacity and an entrepreneurial spirit.

“It is also so important for people with small businesses to have the right life insurance in place.”

“I was diagnosed with tuberculosis, and that meant I couldn’t work for four to five months. Luckily, I had signed up for income protection with Bidvest Life, which paid out for the time I couldn’t work … I was able to provide for a family of eight, pay my employees, and take care of my health so that I could return to work healthy.”

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