5 reasons why people start businesses in South Africa

19 May 15

Young Entrepreneurs of 2015 Series

Meet some of South Africa’s bright young entrepreneurs and find out how they started.

South Africa may seem a harsh environment for startups, but this bright young group of entrepreneurs have proven that it’s not only possible to survive as an entrepreneur, but to excel. In the first of our series on young entrepreneurs in South Africa, we meet some of the SAB KickStart Boost top 18 finalists for this year, and find out what has shaped their experiences and motivated them in starting their businesses.

These were the five main motivating factors:

1. South Africa is alive with opportunity

Angelo Rucian Maart South African Entrepreneur“Everything in life is a risk, however it’s all about minimising the risk, so take the chance and don’t be scared. Our country has come a long way, the opportunities are there and small businesses keeps our economy going.”

Angelo Rucian Maart runs a recycling business, Angelo’s Recycling, which specializes in waste and hygiene management.



Hollo Molatelo Matlala South African Entrepreneur“The energy sector on a broad basis is currently the next biggest lucrative sector in terms of innovation and start-ups after the telecommunication sector in South Africa, as everyone is faced by the energy crises and solutions are needed fast.”

Hollo Molatelo Matlala started 4th Element Group, a technology solutions company which specialises in solar energy systems within the water sector. 



Rishane Rajkoomar South African Entrepreneur“South Africa and KwaZulu Natal in particular has so much untapped potential for the film and television industry. In this province, we have such a diverse range of cultures and locations and amazing weather. The film sector is also getting a lot of support from both national and local government departments with grants and rebates that make shooting here extremely attractive even for foreign companies from all over the world. There has never been a better time or place to be in this industry and I’m really glad that the SAB Kickstart Boost programme is helping me capitalize on the advantage that we currently have right here in our own backyard.

Rishane Rajkoomar made the decision to start Media Sea, a creative digital media company, when he returned home after studying in Australia.


2. A business can make a big difference to its surrounding community

Bonisile Mjoli South African Entrepreneur“My great inspiration is from the positive impact I see this small business doing to the people's lives of my community and how it has improved the quality of life to people I work with.

Bonisile Mjoli started Allsharp Motor Fitments and Tyres in Motherwell, Port Elizabeth.




Chantelle Smith South African Entrepreneur“I realised while working in a health facility that too many individuals in the community cannot afford medical aid or private health care so I wanted to provide a health care service to such individuals at an affordable rate.”

Chantelle Smith started Health View Clinic in Johannesburg, a primary health care facility which bridges the gap between private and public health care.



Ranjan Sewgambar South African Entrepreneur“I personally have a passion for the bottom of the pyramid market in the private healthcare sector, there is an evident need for services (private) for the growing lower-middle income groups and LSM groups who require our service. The growing incidence of hearing loss is a factor that pushes me to try and determine innovative ways of serving these patients.”

Ranjan Sewgambar is a private practicing audiologist with a passion for innovation.



Solomon Tohlang South African Entrepreneur“I have always loved working with people, so through stokvel promotions and events, it has given me a platform to connect with part of the bigger community.”

Solomon Tohlang runs a marketing and promotions agency, Stokvel Business Connect offering brand and experiential events as a means of engaging with the stokvel market




3. Being an entrepreneur can mean independence and autonomy

Clement Ngwako Pilusa South African Entrepreneur“I create opportunities for myself... I am the driver of my own career. The harder I work, the more I achieve and build myself. I have control over my own salary. It is very nice being self-employed because even working extra hours you don’t complain, because at the end you are taking it home. And I have advantage of helping my own community.”

Clement Ngwako Pilusa is the owner of Pilusa and Mabotja Farming and Projects, which began with vegetables and later expanded into broiler chicken production.



4. For some, starting a business was a natural step

Shadrack Litabe South African Entrepreneur“To start an electrical business one needs practical experience in the field. I started out as a semi-skilled electrician until the firm owner realized the potential in me. I invented the electricity theft detector while I was a semi-skilled electrician.

Immediately I was promoted to an engineer’s position and then later on I was tasked to work as an independent contractor and I was fortunate to work directly with the owners of the company.

They later on told me to quit the job and go start my own engineering company using the innovation that I came up with!”

Shadrack Litabe’s business, Litabe Technologies, continues to specialise in developing devices and software aimed at combatting electricity theft.


Ntshepeng Mofokeng South African Entrepreneur“I've always wanted to be a business woman, just didn't know which business I would be in!”

Ntshepeng Mofokeng now runs Tsha Motshe Lifestyle Concepts, which specialises in manufacture, maintenance and consultation for interior upholstery.




Hollo Molatelo Matlala South African Entrepreneur“At first It was just a simple school science project. It turned into a real business/product in 2013 when we realised there was a huge problem in South Africa in terms of energy and water resources.

But how it all began was with grandma running out of water in her community five years back and her telling me: “My child, you want to be an engineer one day, solve my water problem first!”

Hollo Molatelo Matlala started 4th Element Group when he was 19. And it all started with a science project.


5. For some, starting a business seemed the only option

Nolubabalo Pulu South African Entrepreneur“Due to financial constraints, pursuing my hopes and dreams through the creation of my firm was the only way forward for me in life. This was due to a lack of finance for me to pursue my tertiary education.

I have witnessed, first hand, the pain of not knowing hope and this is something I have used as a strength to rise above my circumstances to create opportunity where one might seemingly think there is none.”

Nolubabalo Pulu used the constraints in her life to both strengthen her character and motivate her to improve the circumstances for herself and her community. Her business supplies safe and hygienic cleaning materials at competitive prices to low income households.  


Have any of these entrepreneurs inspired you to see things differently? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Keep an eye on SAB Stories for more in the Young Entrepreneurs of 2015 series.



About these entrepreneurs and SAB KickStart Boost:

Each of these promising young South Africans has received business grant funding and is currently undergoing an intensive business development support programme as part of the SAB KickStart Boost programme. This will culminate in an award ceremony at the end of this year where the top five stand to win additional loan grant funding of between R100 000 and R500 000. The next year’s SAB KickStart Boost Competition is open for entry until 31 May. Find out more here.