Having started the business 15 years ago in 2004, he left teaching and decided that he wants to be an entrepreneur selling computers.
This at a time when computers were not something that township people were familiar with.
Luvuyo Rani quit his job and, partnered with his brother, Lonwabo Rani who was fixing phones at the time, began selling computers and parts from his “mobile office” the boot of his Corsa Lite. Later his sister in law, Nandipha joined them.
He secured a loan of R10,000, purchased four refurbished computers to sell in Khayelitsha. Khayelitsha [Xhosa for Our New Home] is the largest township in Cape Town and is situated 30km south east Cape Town.
Starting a business in townships and rural areas is tough, lack of funding, a skeptical market about you and the quality of your products, break-ings and theft, lower purchasing power [at that time], are some of the challenges you have to deal with.
“It was tough. People were sceptical about the informal nature of our business. They wanted to know: ‘Where are these computers coming from?’ Even if they knew, no one believed that there was a future in computer technology in the townships.”
Business got so tough that at some point the bank wanted to repossess his “mobile office” his Corsa Lite.
He had to duck and dive from the bank, to an extent that he would park his car 5 or 6 houses away from his home, and then walk to his house.
At some point in the entrepreneurship journey, you will come face to face with bankruptcy.
Entrepreneurship is emotional roller-coaster.
One minute you are up and another you are down.
One day you are winning this game, the following day, this game is winning over you.
The fear of failure is what prevents a lot of people from starting their businesses.
How do I get rid of the fear? is the wrong question to ask.
The only way to get rid of the fear is to stop doing things that might not work, to stop putting yourself out there, to stop doing work that matters.
No, the right question is, “How do I dance with the fear?”
Fear is not the enemy. Paralysis is the enemy.
Learn to dance with fear, instead of avoiding it.
Fear is always there, it’s always present, but Luvuyo, Lonwabo and Nandipha learned to dance with it, instead of avoiding.
By end of 2004, they had sold 15 machines.
By 2006, they opened the first internet cafe in Khayelitsha Mall.
By 2007, they opened a training centre in Litha Park.
By 2008, they opened a store in Khaya Bazaar Centre.
By 2009, they opened 5 more stores in the Western Cape.
By 2014, they had 16 stores open in the Western Cape, and 14 in the Eastern Cape.
By 2017, Silulo has trained over 29,000 students since inception, has 42 internet cafes across three of South Africa’s provinces [The Western and Eastern Cape and Kwa-Zulu Natal] and employs over 180 people.
Silulo is targeting to open 100 stores by 2020.
More stores, means more fear [what if we fail], it means more dancing to do.
In a country, where unemployment is 27,5%, creating over 180 jobs and training over 29,000 students is BIG deal.