Connect with us

Snapshots

Silulo Ulutho Technologies: Luvuyo Rani

A former teacher teams up with three partners to bring about a township IT revolution

Monique Verduyn

Published

on

Luvuyo Rani of Silulo Ulutho Technologies

They say the  sign of a true entrepreneur is someone whowill risk everything, including the security of salaried employment, to followa dream that only they believe in. If this is true then Luvuyo Rani, founderand MD of Silulo Ulutho Technologies, more than qualifies. When the qualifiedteacher left his school post to sell computers out of the boot of a car inKhayelitsha, everyone told him he was mad. “But I knew the thing could work. Ifelt so passionate about it that I just never gave up,” he recalls.

It was his position as a teacher that firstopened his eyes to a gap in the market where he believed he could make money.“The Department of Education was promoting the use of computers and theteaching of information technology at schools, but I knew that most teacherswere not computer literate and most schools lacked access to computers. So Iresigned and started my own IT company, providing schools with computers at anaffordable rate,” he remembers.But the idea didn’t run as smoothly as hehad initially envisaged. “Using my contacts in schools, I started knocking ondoors, but in many instances the schools and teachers weren’t interested,” herecalls. Slowly, as he spoke to people about the value of ICT skills, hestarted to build a client base. “What was interesting was that once one schoolor teacher had a computer, the other schools and teachers in the communitydidn’t want to be left out, so they approached me for the same service,” herelates.Access to finance was his biggestchallenge. He’d borrowed R10 000 as a personal loan but was turned away by thefinancial institutions he approached for funding, and the business he’d chosento go into was capital intensive. Rani is nothing if not inventive and heovercame cash flow, funding and debt collection challenges with creative flair,engaging suppliers to provide him with payment terms and selling refurbishedcomputers to keep costs down. “We managed to think of creative ways to allowcustomers to pay us and encouraged groups of teachers to form a stokvel wherebythey would each contribute R500 a month to a fund, for example, so that at theend of a period all of them would be able to buy computers,” he explains.

The business grew different divisionsorganically, in response to the needs of its client base. “Lonwabo Rani joinedas operations director and because clients needed maintenance and technicalsupport we took on a third member, Sigqubo Pangabantu, to take care of thatside of things. Then we realised that educators were buying computers but notutilising them because they weren’t computer literate, so Nandipha Matshobajoined us to offer basic computer training,” relates Rani. Today the businesshas a number of divisions that include the supply and maintenance of computersand consumables, as well as an internet café, training facility and businessadvisory service.“There is so much unemployment in thecommunity and we did a lot of work educating people about how ICT skills couldhelp them to find a job,” he says. Ordinarily education campaigns are costlyaffairs but with characteristic ingenuity, Rani approached local radio stationRadio Zibonele offering assistance with the support of their computers inexchange for airtime that the business would otherwise not have been able toafford. “We have a two year contract which consists of two hour slots on Sundaymorning and late on Mondays, and an advert every day,” he explains. This hasraised their profile in the community they serve and as Rani points out,highlighted the importance of marketing the business. “From seeing the returnsthat we got from our radio exposure, we now make sure that we allocate aportion of money every month to marketing,” he says.Since its inception the business hasincreased its turnover by 80%, doubled its number of customers and plans todouble its staff complement in the next two years. Rani and his team have plansfor a business lounge, a concept they are pioneering in Khayelitsha and willthen roll out in Gugulethu, Langa and other townships. Having captured theimagination and potential of this mass market, they’re well on their way toestablishing themselves as market leaders.

Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.

Advertisement
Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Snapshots

Ian Fuhr Explains Why He Likes To Launch Businesses In Unfamiliar Industries And How He Made Sorbet A Success

Ian Fuhr, a serial entrepreneur is not scared of opening businesses in industries he knows nothing about.

CEOwise

Published

on

By

ceowise-entrepreneur-magazine-thumbnail-designs-ian-fuhr

We interview entrepreneur Ian Fuhr, who founded the Sorbet Group in 2005 which has now grown to over 200 stores in South Africa with stores in the UK. Ian is a serial entrepreneur who has launched many successful companies in industries he knew very little about.

Continue Reading

Snapshots

How Pepe Marais Went From Bankruptcy To Founding Joe Public And Becoming An Entrepreneurial Success

After being bankrupt in 2009 Pepe, along with his partners, turned their business around to being one of the best advertising agencies in South Africa.

CEOwise

Published

on

By

ceowise-entrepreneur-magazine-thumbnail-design-pepe-marais

We interview entrepreneur Pepe Marais, who co-founded Joe Public, one of the biggest independently owned advertising agencies in South Africa. After being bankrupt in 2009 Pepe found his life’s purpose and not only turned his business around, but his entire life. It’s all documented in his booked titled Growing Greatness, which is a must read.

Continue Reading

Snapshots

Eustace Mashimbye Shares His Insights On Exporting Your Goods

Nadine Todd

Published

on

eustace-mashimbye

What sectors are best for South Africans exporting to other markets?

Almost any sector can compete in international markets, certainly on quality and often in technical innovation, but it’s always important for companies to do their homework first on prevailing conditions, competitive products, prices, import duties and so on in the country they have identified for export before they rush in.

How do local manufacturers benefit from exporting their goods?

An international profile is always a good thing for any company and for the country. We love seeing Made in SA products on shelves and in industrial applications overseas. Obviously, the opportunity to earn in hard currency — exchange fluctuations notwithstanding, is another benefit. The more diversified your markets, the better placed any company is if any one market should take a dip, so spreading the markets in which you are operating and selling is another.

Related: How To Leverage Partnerships, Industry Associations & Endorsements

What are the potential dangers business owners should be aware of if they’re interested in exporting their goods?

There is always the danger that without proper ground work, it can be an expensive exercise if the export project fails. Local agents, distributors and third parties can also prove difficult and expensive, so it’s important to source reliable local representation, if you need it. Translation of all packaging to the local language can be expensive and adherence to different local norms and standards must always be adhered to, and could push up the price of your product if you pass these costs on to the customer. Sales and after-sales service is something that also needs to be managed well.

What government-funded programmes are available to assist entrepreneurs access new markets?

There are a number of programmes of the dti, including Trade & Investment South Africa and the Export Marketing & Investment Assistance Scheme (EMIA). South African embassies around the world have trade attachés who are there to help and are a critical point of contact for any exporter.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

SPOTLIGHT

Advertisement

Recent Posts

Follow Us

Entrepreneur-Newsletters
*
We respect your privacy. 
* indicates required.
Advertisement

Trending