Some people say that grit is the number-one trait that entrepreneurs need to make it. Queenstown business owner Noluvuyo Madaka has that and more.
Nolovuyo was determined to succeed. She worked hard – and smart – to get to where she is today: the proud franchise owner of her own Silulo Ulutho Technologies store bringing technological empowerment to Queenstown.
It wasn’t smooth sailing though. Fresh out of school, armed with only her matric certificate, Noluvuyo applied for a one-year financial course at a college in Cape Town. Her heart was not in finance though, but the course exposed her to the Excel programme, which she loved. She decided to rather register for an IT course the following year and this set her on the path to becoming an entrepreneur.
“ICT is a growing sector. There are always new developments that turn into great opportunities as the world is becoming increasingly digital,” she says.
Raised by a single mom who is a domestic worker, she discovered that basic skills in Microsoft Office, Windows and Internet skills were flexible and accessible. She only needed R200 to register for the IT course at Silulo Ulutho Technologies and it came with the option of attending weekend classes. “I was able to study while looking for a job,” she says.
She didn’t find a job, but that didn’t stop her. She decided to transfer the skills she learned through the IT course she studied and uplift her community and volunteered to help out at her community library in Makhaza, in Khayelitsha, Cape Town.
A few months later, she applied for a job as a consultant when Silulo Ulutho Technologies opened a branch in Makhaza. She started working as a trainee facilitator for six months before passing the assessment to become a trainer.
“In one of our strategy meetings in which we discussed how we could grow the company. One of the ideas was to open a branch in the Eastern Cape and the directors asked me to move there.”
She was just 20 years old and had only been working for a year. What an incredible vote of confidence!
The business opened in Queenstown in 2012 with two staff members. But Noluvuyo had to deal with a problem – a big lack of trust from the community. “The community was weary from a recent experience with a fly-by-night college. I would hunt down strangers to tell them about our training and gave them my contact details to assure them that they would always know where to find me,” she recalls.
This determination to succeed paid off and the first intake had 36 students. The numbers doubled for the second intake. It wasn’t long before Silulo opened more branches in the Eastern Cape and she was promoted to training manager for the province’s 11 branches. This exposed her to IT repairs, sales and Internet aspects of the business. “I decided that I wanted to run every aspect of the business and decided to buy a Silulo franchise.”
She had no funds or experience with running a business. One of the directors at Silulo told her about the SAB Foundation Tholoana Enterprise Programme. She applied and was accepted into the programme in August 2017.
Since starting on the Tholoana programme, Noluvuyo grew her revenue with 116%. “Other than the R200 000 seed money that helped me to buy my shares, Tholoana helped me to understand what it really means to be an entrepreneur; from the sacrifices that come with it to human resources and financial management.”
Another participant element of the Tholoana programme is mentoring. Having a mentor motivates her to keep going and to aim higher. “I learned how to make tough decisions, strategic leadership and that I have to get up whenever I feel down through my mentor.”
Her Tholoana mentor, Guy Rich, has high praise for her. “Noluvuyo is a passionate and driven young woman. She had a dream of owning and operating her own Silulo store and, when this opportunity presented itself, she grabbed it with both hands. One of her key goals was to grow the store she was given in Queenstown. Today, just over a year after she started on the Tholoana Enterprise Development Programme, she has grown the business to include a fully-fledged computer classroom which has allowed her to increase her training offerings to clients in and around Queenstown. She has also improved and increased her technical services offering.”
She has three employees, and her training centre has empowered 148 people since July 2018. She also offers two-week training courses for cashiers.
“My focus at the moment is getting the business to run itself smoothly so I can look for opportunities to grow it. For example, someone approached me about a partnership for a coffee shop and I do want to incorporate more operations so we offer more than training and an internet café. This will stretch the business without losing sight of my focus on ICT.”
The services offered by Silulo Ulutho Technologies Training Centre and Internet Café are:
– Training: basic computer training, office administration, front-desk and cashier courses
– Internet services: printing, faxing, scanning, photocopying and designing
– IT services: computer repairs and computer virus cleaning
For more information about training or internet and IT services, please contact Noluvuyo
Find out more about the SAB Foundation Tholoana Enterprise programme here.