Pupils bring in the big bucks
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.