34 year old Mondhlane is tirelessly working hard to end youth unemployment in South Africa through his Information Technology (IT) Company that he started in a garage.
The journey of humble beginnings
Society normally regards the garage as a filthy place where unused or unwanted assets are stocked. But Mondhlane saw it as a work station and a stepping stone into building his empire. He is the founder of Netmarks technologies, a startup company that now employs over 100 youths from various townships in South Africa.
Spearheaded with the goal of empowering fellow youth in his community using his expertise in the IT sector, the technician started off his company from humble beginnings.
“I come from a disadvantaged background and my dream of being an entrepreneur began when I was 14 years old. Unlike most of my peers, my parents didn’t give us pocket money for spending at school. We had to work hard to get the money. I decided to start my own business to earn money when I was about 14 years old.
“I sold sweets at school and ice cream after Sunday church services. I believed that these products were in demand at that time and I could make a bit of profit then. I never spent all the profit I made and I decided to buy a computer with my savings. I learnt using a computer by frequently visiting friends who had computers and playing games,” he professed.
Having purchased two second hand Pentium two computers, Mondhlane decided to break down one so that he could learn how to fix it. After learning the tricks of rebuilding a computer, he was able to cast his nets wide and started fixing other people’s computers as well.
Starting a company in a garage
Having accomplished the feat of repairing neighbors and friends’ computers, the goal getting young man decided to go big. Without a budget for a workshop, the only free available work area was a garage at his parents’ house.
“I decided to expand my business a bit by using my parents’ garage as my workshop. This is where I repaired and sold second hand computers. It was not all rosy as customers were not forthcoming. After months of intense marketing through distributing leaflets and word of mouth, the business started attracting new clients and subsequently grew.
“I then enrolled for a Diploma in IT because I wanted formal qualification and training on how to fix computers. I kept the business operational so that I could be able to afford my fees. I had some guys helping me out. I then decided to officially register the company with the Department of Trade. My dream of finally employing young people was becoming true,” he stated.
With the booming of business in his parents’ garage, the determined Mondhlane was still not satisfied with his new found success and wanted more. He was particularly interested in empowering youths.
The start of greater things for South Africa’s youth
“I was constantly being bombarded with requests from clients asking for help. I was being called to service computers in many townships and the workload meant that I needed more manpower. I decided to hire more people from my community. Some of them were qualified technicians who couldn’t find employment,” he divulged.
In 2014, Mondhlane took the giant leap of employing at least five youths in neighboring townships whom he groomed and trained.
“Two years later I have employed more than 100 people from different townships throughout South Africa. We take in students who are studying IT for in-house training and Grade 12 pupils who are interested in the field. We mentor them and those who show potential, are absorbed into the company. We also encourage the youth to start their own businesses,” he said.
The growth of the business has seen it moving out of the garage into a luxurious office park.
The sky is the limit
Mondhlane still has big plans of expanding his business and employing several more young people. He wants to continue building the business and improve the lives of poor young people in countries such as Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Swaziland.