'You can start something out of nothing' - Sivu Mongo
The entrepreneur of the week's township laundry service business is the winner of the CapeTalk Small Business Awards
Name of company: Ziyahlanjwa Laundry Services
Years in existence: 5 years (2010)
Location: Khayelitsha, Cape Town
Can you tell us a little bit about your company and what you do.
I started Ziyahlanjwa Trading in 2010, this is a community-based company specialising in laundry services. We offer convenience and reduce the risk of theft [of clothing] by doing washing, drying, folding, ironing and dry cleaning services.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background – personal, educational and professional.
I am from the Eastern Cape and studied there until I passed my matric. I studied short courses in Cape town; a one year secretarial certificate and six months long computer certificate and paralegal studies diploma. I dropped my LLB studies in my first year at UNISA due to lack of funds.
"It takes making sacrifices, risk, passion, dreaming big and hard work"
What were some of the obstacles you faced starting out, and how did you overcome them?
Capital was a big obstacle in starting my business and I spent more than three years not seeing profit though were getting lot of sales. This is because we (myself and my husband who is also a 50% share partner) were using the money coming in to earn a living.
I overcome them by working hard on marketing my business, and by providing the best service. That led to us gaining a lot of customers through word of mouth.
How many people does your company employ?
We have four permanent staff members and four temporary staff, and there is two of us working as management. This equals 10 salaries every month.
What is your overall vision for your business?
The overall vision is to grow, expand and create more job opportunities to fight poverty in our country.
What do you think it takes to establish and run a successful business in South Africa?
It takes making sacrifices, risk, passion, dreaming big and hard work.
How did you finance your business, how difficult or easy was the process?
I did not finance my business because I had nothing on hand so I bought second hand machinery. This is until I managed to buy new ones and got a grant funding from the Department of Economic Development. It was very difficult because I had to repair machinery all the time.
"I do not tell staff members what to do, but I show them how to do things"
When did you know that you were an entrepreneur?
When I noticed that I love what I was doing. I am the first person to wake up and the last to go bed.
How would you describe your leadership style?
Leading by example is key in my business, I do not tell staff members what to do, but I show them how to do things.
What three pieces of advice would you offer young entrepreneurs starting out today?
Young entrepreneurs must not give up, they must keep on dreaming, and they must be curious about what is happening out in business world.
What do you wish you had known starting out?
That you can start something out of nothing.
And finally, do you believe in luck, hard work or both?
I totally do not believe in luck, hard work is the strongest point that is needed for all entrepreneurs. Stand up, think outside of the box, look for a need in the community, and do something. Winning the CapeTalk with Sage One Small Business Awards brought us one step closer to us achieving our dreams.