Pupils bring in the big bucks

CityPress - - Busi­ness - PALESA MOREI busi­ness@city­press.co.za

Lin­de­lani Le­doboni is no or­di­nary 18-year-old. He wrote his ma­tric ex­ams this year and par­tic­i­pated in most so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties like all youth his age do, but he also runs a busi­ness.

It all started in De­cem­ber 2013 in Diep­kloof, Soweto, when Le­doboni first thought he could make funky Tshirts in­spired by the lo­cal graf­fiti park.

This was an up­grade from a busi­ness he was al­ready run­ning at his school – sell­ing sweets to fel­low pupils. He had started the sweet busi­ness with just R20 when his mother lost her job.

“I was try­ing to solve a prob­lem that af­fected us as a fam­ily,” he says.

Months later, Le­doboni de­cided to sell T-shirts, tank tops and sweat­shirts.

“I was in­spired by art his­tory and the sim­ple, stylish streetwear cuts. They are fresh and clean,” he says.

This was the birth of Swank, his la­bel, which has Too Steezy and Trippy as part of the cloth­ing range.

While he started with tops, the cur­sive-font range of Too Steezy be­came so pop­u­lar that Le­doboni branched out to add bean­ies and caps to grow his brand. The artist says that the Trippy range af­forded him a chance to work with other lo­cal artists – Karabo Mokoena and Guel­lor Maweja – who helped him de­velop his artis­tic flair and in­ter­est in vis­ual art.

While his prod­uct range is avail­able on­line, he also gets sup­port from young­sters in the neigh­bour­hood and, sur­pris­ingly, from adults too.

Le­doboni and three other like-minded teens were re­cently recog­nised at the Global En­trepreneur­ship Sum­mit dur­ing global en­trepreneur­ship week for start­ing their own busi­nesses. The sum­mit saw teens com­ing to­gether to share their ideas on how to make use of tech­nol­ogy and so­cial me­dia to make money for them­selves in­stead of spend­ing time do­ing noth­ing dur­ing school hol­i­days.

Another such teen is Gift Lubele from Tem­bisa, Ekurhu­leni. The founder of GN Lub is in the re­cy­cling busi­ness. In­stead of throw­ing away empty plas­tic bags like those con­tain­ing wash­ing pow­der, Lubele uses the ma­te­rial to make back­packs, jack­ets and hats.

The young in­no­va­tor re­alised that many peo­ple strug­gled to carry their gro­ceries in reg­u­lar shop­ping bags over long dis­tances, so his com­pany came up with the idea to make the kind of plas­tic bags that would lessen the bur­den on shop­pers.

“What was seen as pol­lu­tion is now used to make our prod­ucts, and then we sell them. What in­spired me to go make re­cy­cled items into cloth­ing is the amount of land pol­lu­tion ... and why not make prod­ucts that can re­duce land pol­lu­tion?”

Another teen­preneur is Karabo Le­pota (17) from Honey­dew, who was in­spired by a pho­tog­ra­phy school project he had to do. To­day, Le­pota runs No­vae Pho­tog­ra­phy with his twin brother, Kag­iso. The busi­ness has in­spired many other young pho­tog­ra­phers in his com­mu­nity to fol­low their dreams and pas­sion. “If we did it, so can they,” Le­pota says. To make the busi­ness even more suc­cess­ful, the twins in­vest most of their prof­its in pho­tog­ra­phy equip­ment.

Rabia Ghoor is only 15 and runs an on­line-based makeup and beauty busi­ness. Ghoor’s com­pany – Swi­itch – sup­plies cus­tomers with skin­care and beauty prod­ucts. Ghoor says her draw­card with Swi­itch is the new prod­ucts she re­leases on­line each month.

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