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Lesika Matlou is Telling Jozi’s Untold Stories

Lesika Matlou, a tour operator with a difference, Ek Sê Tours specialises in showcasing Jozi’s hidden gems.

Monique Verduyn

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Vital Stats

  • Player: Lesika Matlou
  • Company: Ek Sê Tours
  • Passion: Helping tourists (and locals) fall in love with Jozi.
  • Contact: eksetours.co.za; +27 (0)11 024 1606

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Lesika Matlou is a natural born raconteur. The young entrepreneur left his village in the rural North West province to come to Johannesburg after he heard about the Awethu Project on the radio.

The programme identifies entrepreneurs with talent, vision and capabilities, but without formal experience and qualifications. It invests in them and ensures that they have the resources to drive business success.

With the support of Awethu, Matlou started Ek Sê Tours in August 2011. His company specialises in showing people aspects of Joburg that are out of the ordinary.

“I started the business with R6 000 that I got from Awethu, which I used to promote Ek Sê Tours at B&Bs in and around Melville and to take my first clients — two Americans — around the city. I didn’t tell them stories about crime and corruption. Instead, I focused on what is vibrant and different about our great city.”

In the first three months, he made a profit of R10 000. Soon after that he employed his first full-time tour guide. Today he provides work for six staff, takes more than 100 people a week around the city, and has recently secured a contract worth more than R1 million with Red Pepper Pictures.

“Our Soweto tour stimulates all the senses,” he says.

“We start by singing songs, and then we teach tourists how to do the Xhosa click. They get the chance to have coffee at the top of the Orlando Cooling Towers, from where they can view the whole of Soweto, home to about a third of the city’s residents.”

“We walk the streets of Kliptown and feast on mopane worms and kota. The youngsters in the area always join us and tell us their stories and experiences, which gives visitors some real insight into township life.”

Never having been a tourist himself, Matlou says that one of the things he loves most about his job is that he gets to tour the world through other people’s eyes every time he chats to clients.

And even more special? From a mining town that didn’t believe in entrepreneurship, Matlou is now a role model for youngsters from his own village, who believe they too can follow their dreams.

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+.

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