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The story of a philanthropic entrepreneur

There is more to entrepreneurship than the “mere creation of money” says local entrepreneur Kulani Mtileni of Limpopo, who sees his entrepreneurship journey as a business career, perfectly matched with a good sense of philanthropy.

Since his teenage years in high school, Kulani says that he always knew he was destined for entrepreneurship as he was as optimistic as he was opportunistic – down to selling Chappies bubble-gum to his classmates.

After starting his formal entrepreneurial journey when he was just 22 years old and fresh out of tertiary studies, where he qualified as a registered dietitian and opened his own practice, Kulani was inspired to do something more with his entrepreneurial spirit when he noticed the increasing level of poverty in his community. At the age of 27, he then founded Polokwane Cleaning Ladies in June 2016.

“I saw so many young women in my community turning to desperate measures to make ends meet for their families, and I just felt the calling to help them,” says Kulani. “My own domestic worker had expressed her struggles to provide for her family, and I was inspired to start a small business that could help these young women and improve their situations.”

It’s not just about the rand and cents for this passionate entrepreneur – it’s about seeing the positive impact that his business has on his employees. Since opening its doors a couple of months ago, Polokwane Cleaning Ladies already employs 15 young women from disadvantaged backgrounds, whose personal relief and ability to provide for their families is both Kulani’s biggest reward, and his driving force. “Seeing my team happy and grateful for work, makes me want to work harder for them and improve my business. Every day I wake up and tell myself ‘Let me just go and change someone’s life’.”

His business’ philanthropic spirit is noticed elsewhere too. His team often donates their time to the local orphanage and primary school, and the business has gained a number of new clients as a result.

Whilst the business is still young, Kulani has already learnt a few hard lessons, such as the need for correct pricing structures and payment controls. “Avoiding under- and overcharging in the cleaning industry is very important. Chasing payments from customers can also be a daunting task.”

2017, however, has started with a bang for the business, which won its first big corporate client on 1 February with a 12-month contract – making way for the team to achieve their goals.

“We are working really hard and are putting ourselves out there using the local radio stations and newspapers,” says Kulani, who adds that his five-year goal is to employ 500 young men and women, from poverty stricken areas, as well as graduates who cannot find employment. He also aims to up-skill his own staff and empower them to eventually start their own businesses.

For this local entrepreneur, his best tip for aspiring entrepreneurs is to remain patient. “Work hard and know what you aim to achieve – but be patient in getting there. Above all, always remember that starting a business is not only about making money for yourself. Rather think about how your business can impact and improve your local community and create jobs for those around you.”


7 comments

  1. SIBUSISO NGWENYA
    14 June 2017 at 1:20 pm

    A big round of applause!

    Keep it up bro, so proud of your work you’re not only profit driven but you’re making a difference to people’s lives. You’re destined for greatness.

    Reply
  2. Tsireledzo Tshitangano
    10 March 2017 at 4:52 pm

    Wow!!!!
    South Africa needs more of this, we could build a solid and stable economy.
    Proud of you Mr

    Reply
  3. Kholofelo selapa
    10 March 2017 at 1:30 pm

    Woooow after reading this I was so impressed and motivated. Keep it up u such an inspiration to put youth and may God bless you

    Reply
  4. selby
    1 March 2017 at 10:10 pm

    Wow this is so inspiring, Im proud of him, this is the role model we need as the youth.

    Reply
  5. Xilaveko chabalala
    21 February 2017 at 7:35 pm

    Wooow! Very impressive.limpopo has a high rate of unemployment.keep helping those ladies with your cleaning business.

    Reply
  6. Tiyani
    21 February 2017 at 7:32 pm

    A salute to you young man. A business with a heart for its community.you guys deserve an award

    Reply
  7. Jabulile
    21 February 2017 at 7:31 pm

    This is heart warming.this should receive some award..helping young women and empowering them is very good. Our country needs young men like you.big up as you continue to grow your business and help a young woman out there.

    Reply

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