We all possess the seeds of dreams within us, waiting to bloom into reality. Yet, the path to transforming these dreams into tangible existence demands an extraordinary concoction of unwavering resolve, unwavering commitment, unwavering self-control, and unwavering exertion.

By Gontse GEe Hlophe

The issue of high unemployment, particularly among the youth, continues to pose a significant challenge in South Africa.

To alleviate the hardships of poverty, some individuals choose to pursue entrepreneurship as a means of improving their circumstances. Conversely, some unfortunately become enticed by criminal activities.

Some individuals, like Nqubeko Chase Sithole, a 28-year-old former teacher and honours drama graduate from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, see it as simply seizing an opportunity that arises from a gap in the country’s struggling economy.

Sithole, who had a stint in China teaching English, shares that he was inspired by the idea of establishing a laundry business.

“I have always been fascinated by laundry. I bought the machines, put them in one place, and then started doing laundry and it just grew from there,” he said.

A self-taught and self-made entrepreneur, he explains that he financed his business using his personal savings from his teaching position in China, along with some assistance from supportive family members. He says in the beginning it was far from a fragrant garden of blooming roses.

Sithole, who was born and raised in Pietermaritzburg, experienced a remarkable expansion in his business after relocating it to Umhlanga, a suburb located north of Durban, in 2021.

“I was not very clued up about the business, so I suffered numerous setbacks in terms of how to manage the finances, stock taking, making sure that the clients’ clothes were not damaged, and more. I eventually got the hang of it,” he explained.

Despite the relentless onslaught of load shedding, he refused to be deterred, pushing forward with unwavering determination. His resilience knew no bounds, reaching a pinnacle where he not only managed to provide employment opportunities for the local youth but also waged a valiant battle against the suffocating grip of poverty that had consumed his neighbourhood.

Sithole recently secured a major contract for his business, becoming the official laundry service provider for the South African rugby national team (Amabhokobhoko). In addition to doing laundry for the team and visiting international teams, he has also expanded his business to include local customers.

To secure the Amabhokobhoko contract, he made direct contact with the national team and proposed doing business with them every time they played in Durban.

“I had to prove myself, and I showed them that I had also worked with international teams, and could handle the workload and was pleasantly surprised to land the job.”

According to Sithole, procrastination can be detrimental to achieving one’s dreams. He believes that self-doubt often leads to the failure of start-up businesses. Sithole advises entrepreneurs to prioritise their interests and pursue what truly captivates them.

“Doing what you love will make it easier in business and you will put more effort into making it a success. We owe it to ourselves as young people to get out there and think on the spots, go with what our gut tells us in creating opportunities for ourselves and others.”

He mentioned that his mother had reservations about the laundry business, as she believed that pursuing a government job or becoming a teacher would offer more advantages and security, without any potential risks.

“There were a lot of concerns because the family weren’t really sure if I could run such a big business.  However, I was confident because I had set my mind on it, and I had read up and done my research.

“I think until recently she didn’t believe that I actually have a real job because she would send me job posts every day, saying I must apply.”

While the task of doing laundry may be perceived as easy by some, Sithole asserts that undertaking this responsibility for the national team entails significant pressure and challenges, compelling him to bump up his performance.

“When the teams finish the game, you need to be there for collection and return it the next day before they go for training. These challenges give me a thrill and a challenge. I feel I am representing and serving our country in that manner. It pushes me to be more professional.

“It has given me more positivity and more courage because, in the beginning, everything was shaky.

“There was a point where I couldn’t afford to pay the full rent, I was just making enough to pay myself, but I had to push, I had to wake up every day and try to find ways to grow the business.

“I wanted to do soccer jerseys for teams that coming into Durban, but I was lucky enough to meet a guy from Cape Town who was very much involved in the rugby space,” he said.

Sithole sees the contract with Amabhokobhoko as a great first step towards achieving his larger vision. He aims to create laundry facilities that can cater to large establishments.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *