Global recognition for Khayelitsha entrepreneur

Aug 14 2014 19:17
Liziwe Ndalana

Cape Town - Luvuyo Rani has been nominated for an award at the Junior Chamber International in Germany, ten years after he started Silulo Ulutho Technologies from his car boot.

The founder of Silulo Ulutho Technologies, Rani was nominated by the Junior Chamber International (JCI) in the category of business, economic and entrepreneurial accomplishment.

He said it was a great honour to represent South Africa at the JCI World Congress in November in Leipzig, Germany. Rani said it was also a privilege to be one of the only two Africans nominated for the award.

The JCI Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World programme honours 10 outstanding young people under the age of 40 each year. These individuals exemplify the spirit of the JCI mission and provide extraordinary service to their communities. Whether through service, innovation, determination or revolutionary thinking, they create positive impact on a local and global level.

Fin24 caught up with Rani and asked him a few questions:

Fin24: Where did it all begin?

Luvuyo Rani: I was born in Queenstown, Eastern Cape. I am the youngest of four boys. I did my primary and high school in Queenstown and continued my further studies at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. I did my post graduate studies at the UCT Graduate School of Business.

Fin24: How did you become an entrepreneur?

Rani: My mother owned a tavern and I used to assist her after school and that sparked my entrepreneurship spirit from an early age. Helping my mom with selling in the tavern helped to develop and sharpen my sales and customer service kills.

One of Silulo Ulutho Technologies' shops.

What were the seeds of Silulo Ulutho Technologies?

Rani: When I was a teacher I noticed they struggled to use computers and at that time the Department of Education just introduced a new curriculum, the Outcomes Based Education (OBE). This meant that teachers had to be equipped on how to use computers as many of them had never used computers before. Out of this need I started selling computers to the teachers from the boot of my car. After some time I had been selling computers, I decided to open the first ever internet cafe in Khayelitsha with my partners Nandipha Matshoba and Sigqibo Pangabantu. Silulo was born!

Fin24: How did you identify the need for the service Silulo offers?

Rani: When I realised that teachers were buying computers and ended up using them as part of their home furniture because they were unable to use them, I decided to open up an internet cafe, the first ever internet cafe in Khayelitsha. My partners helped me with training.  

Fin24: How did you fund the business?

Rani: My brother applied for a personal loan of R10 000 and also encouraged teachers to start a stokvel to save; when the stokvel payout came, they each bought themselves a computer. Silulo currently has 32 stores around the country, spread across the Eastern and Western Cape provinces.

Fin24: What challenges did you face?

Rani: When we first started, the major challenge we faced was finances. I decided to enter small business competitions such as SAB Kick Start challenge and I received R110 000 in the regional competition and R150 000 in the national round, which helped a lot to establish Silulo. Another challenge we face is crime, as Silulo operates in townships, which are rife with crime. Our brand is so strong and trusted in the communities that people protect the business themselves.  

Fin24: What has running Silulo taught you?

Rani: Passion is the key in succeeding as an entrepreneur. Love what you do and, if it’s difficult, your passion will keep you motivated and you will overcome any obstacle that gets in your way of success.

Focus: your eye must be on the ball until you master what it is that you do, and then you can diversify.

Discipline is important. Without it, it will be very difficult to achieve your dreams.

Humility is an important ingredient as an entrepreneur; you must treat customers with dignity and respect.

Do not make money your focus; your primary focus must be on servicing the people and the money will come to you as a reward.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

Rani: Doors are going to be closed in your face and you may also lose friends. Family might question your decision on choosing the entrepreneurship path, but as long as your passion and drive carries on you will see your vision come to life. Entrepreneurs must have big dreams, work hard, start with baby steps and believe that anything is possible. Remember your attitude will determine your altitude in life.

Fin24: What traits make you a good entrepreneur?

Rani: I am a dreamer, believer, visionary, connector and I make things happen. I am also a very spiritual person. Entrepreneurship lives in me.

Fin24: Tell us about your B2B expansion plans.

Rani: After 10 years of growth, we decided to re-launch the brand, to improve the look and feel in our stores and our corporate image. We will be highly focused on doing business to business with the bigger corporate by providing training, printing services, IT support and internet services. This is an exciting journey for us because we will be taking the Silulo brand to a level beyond the township market.


What have been your key milestones?

Rani: Silulo has been extremely successful in the last 10 years and the following is a timeline of our business success:

2004: Started Silulo from the boot of a car
2005: Partnership with Nandipha and Sigqibo
2006: Opened first internet café in Khayelitsha
2007: Cape Times/KPMG Editors Award for Business Excellence
2007: 1st Runner Up for Velociti run by CITi
2008: Western Cape Regional Winners for SAB Kick Start Award
2009: 1st Runner up for National SAB Kick Start Award
2009: 2nd Runner Africa SMME Awards (Service Business Sector)
2010: Winner to represent SA in USA on a Young Entrepreneurship Programme
2010: 2nd Runner up for SAB Ultimate Kick start
2011: Selected as an Endeavour Global Entrepreneur
2012: Winners of the National Productivity Award
2012: Opening first Silulo centre in the Eastern Cape
2013: Selected to be part of Entrepreneurs Organisation
2013: By the end of 2013 we had trained 20 000 students on End User Computing
2014: Started franchising our stores to our staff
2014: Chosen to be part of the Brand SA Play campaign
2014: Featured on Forbes Magazine March issue


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khayelitsha  |  entrepreneur  |  small business  |  good news


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