On several occasions while addressing the University staff and students, the Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Marcus Ramogale bemoaned the fact that no graduate should see themselves as job seekers but as work seekers, “there might be no jobs but there is plenty of work, our graduates would succeed if they focus on finding work,” said Prof Ramogale.
Njabulo Mabaso, class of ‘19 is one such graduate who has heeded Professor Ramogale’s call. His impatience while waiting for responses from prospective employers has resulted in him becoming a business man in his province. He started a business of selling wood and coal.
The 26-year-old Njabulo, who had started a number of businesses and failed, spotted a gap and acted on it. As far as his current business goes, it all started in May this year. “We had wattle woods in the household. I told my siblings I was selling those woods for us to get money to buy bread. Like everybody, we also use the woods for cooking and to keep ourselves warm,” said Njabulo.
The family has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. There was no source of income. Njabulo himself lost his internship because of the virus. The new venture was the step that gave Njabulo a chance to show his mettle. “I sold almost six wheelbarrows in a week. That was my first success,” said Njabulo. Soon the family needed to make some important adjustments. “We decided to sell the family bakkie to buy a truck so we could sell more wattle woods. Soon I added coal in my stock that I sell in the township.” Njabulo gets wattle woods from three local farms, and coal from the coal mines around Ermelo.
Taking lessons from his failed business ventures, Njabulo has a plan to ensure that his current initiative does not suffer the same fate as others he had before. “I want to take advantage of digital space to grow my business. I will use Google and social media to promote it. I will also lease stands around Ermelo where my target market will reach my product. This will also ease my delivery costs,” said Njabulo.
Njabulo said he was planning to sell the wood to some of the big chain stores in the area but was still finalising the branding of his products. He said social media have been instrumental in reaching his target audience. “I decided to post at least three messages a day on Facebook using humorous status about my product. This helps to engage my customers, and bring awareness about what I sell,” said Njabulo.