By: Katleho Sekhotho
It’s no secret that the pandemic has put pressure on people to be creative in what they do with their time and how they make money.
If you recall, so many of us dedicated ourselves to baking banana bread, hosting make-up webinars and starting YouTube channels.
At first, it seemed cute then the lockdown dragged on, and I couldn’t help but wonder whether the DIY projects people had so keenly started had resulted in functioning and profitable businesses. You’ll be pleased to know that they did.
In this week’s Arts Report I speak to four entrepreneurs who did exactly that; turned interests and hobbies into thriving businesses.
While some may have come up with the ideas during the lockdown, most were just beginning in their entrepreneurial ventures at the start of the pandemic and had to adjust very quickly.
Onneile Khwene is one such business lady, she started her business called Moritelo Skin Care long before the pandemic and has been thriving not despite, but, because of the lockdown.
The business started because of some of the struggles she had with her own skin due to job loss and stress.
Onneile says the pandemic opened her eyes to running the business online.
Another entrepreneur is Khathazile Tshantshana who runs a business called Khat Kontours which is focused on permanent make-up.
Khathazile reflects on how she started the business due to her own bad experience with permanent make-up. The bad experience resulted in her doing research to find out what had gone wrong with her treatments.
She decided to go to school and receive training from Nouveau Contour in Roodepoort, after that she started practicing on family members as a hobby.
Khathazile explains how she launched on the 8th of March, just before the implementation of the hard lockdown. She had to run her business from home or do call outs when the lockdown began to ease; the positive was that she didn’t have to pay rent for space.
Khathazile started to create online videos showing how permanent make-up works, this helped to cement her business. Khathazile gained traction during the pandemic, which, she says has resulted in her securing clients who would come to her for make-up services when the lockdown eased.
Now, Sibulele Mene is an interesting one. Sibulele has started his own online shopping mall called ‘Amazing Mall Africa’ for specifically small businesses and even informal traders.
Sibulele’s aim was to create a space for small business owners who have their own brands but may not have a digital presence. He says they decided not to charge store owners monthly subscription fees so that big and small businesses can take part.
He explains how they aim to change the status quo by promoting local brands. Sibulele says they are now building an ecosystem that will be announced this year. The system is set to open up a world of opportunities for sellers registered on his platform. He says listing of products is currently free for sellers and they only take a success fee of 15% plus R4 per sale made through the platform.
And lastly, we hear from Hlulani Chauke who runs a business called Nsuku Organics, which makes and creates hair care products. Hlulani says her business was inspired by wanting to learn more about her natural hair. When she was younger, she says she struggled with her own her, but decided when she was in her mid-20s to start learning how to care for her own hair.
Hlulani is a newbie to the business world and she continues to learn every day. She says the pandemic opened her eyes to be self-reliant and independent.
She explains that operations kicked off when the pandemic started and so all she knows is how to run a business within the current crisis.