Mbatha reaches Forbes summit
Isaac Mbatha, the founder and chief executive of Sky Tents SA, said he received the invite to the summit after he was featured on the Forbes Africa Under 30 list in the business category.
He said when he was first approached by Forbes he thought it was a prank call.
“I was overwhelmed and shocked. I couldn’t believe it and, honestly, I wasn’t expecting it at all,” he said.
Mbatha said five years ago he was driving a taxi and now he was being recognised for his business achievements.
“To be a part of it all and for them to see me as one of South Africa’s future billionaires, it was a good feeling. Now I have to work twice as hard and do more for people,” he said.
Mbatha said his company started from humble beginnings when he took a leap of faith and started his business with just three employees and no financial backing.
He said as a new business with no secured contracts, he struggled to get a loan or start-up capital.
“I maxed out my credit cards and went into overdraft and then I started buying small equipment and as I got an order and did a job I pushed it back into the business,” Mbatha said.
Now Sky Tents has about 59 employees and nine branches across the country.
The business has started exporting products to other African countries, including Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland and Mozambique.
Mbatha said his family and friends have supported him on his entrepreneurial journey.
Mbatha said at first he was chasing profits, but he now wants to change people’s lives.
He recently teamed up with Ukhozi FM to give away 120 tents to people from various communities.
“I feel like I just started the business all over again. I really need to start working because it’s not only just about me, a lot of people also depend on me,” he said.
Mbatha’s advice to young people who would like to start a business is that failure is part of the journey.
“It is okay to fail, they need to be comfortable with it. It’s okay to fail and start again, there’s nothing wrong with that. I know every successful person has failed or been through a rough patch,” he said.