Transform SA Digital Issue 25 - Magazine - Page 29
Innovation is a crucial ingredient in building
a successful business venture.
about starting a
business. I think
it was a question
of being at the
right place at
the right time.
And I also come
from a businessoriented family.
My father was a
everly Ncongwane Gumbi is one
innovative entrepreneur who has made a
name for herself with her business. In 2005,
Gumbi’s business identified a niche in the market
to refurbish containers into early to usable units.
“We thought these ready-to-use units are a
solution to entrepreneurs. They no longer have
to run around from one supplier to the next to
find everything. And for us customer service is key,
that’s why our turnaround is 2 to 3 days.”
“I was sitting with demand for containers for one
of the companies, and I realized that it was one
business model not so many people are thinking
about,” Gumbi tells TransformSA.
As a female entrepreneur, one of Gumbi’s
challenges was getting recognized by her male
counterparts. She says some clients would even
make a mistake of asking her for her employer.
“People still expect to see a male figure behind this
kind of business. So you have to prove yourself.
And when you approach investors you have to
Her business aptly named “Isivuno” (the harvest)
went on to live up to its name. It has won several
awards over the years, including the regional award
in the 2007 SAB Kickstart Business Competition,
the national award in the 2008 competition and
the Regional Business Achievers Award of the
Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa in
2012. In 2018, Gumbi was also a finalist for the
2018 Entrepreneur of the Year competition.
Gumbi says she ventured into business by sheer
coincidence. “Everywhere I went everyone was
preaching about starting a business. I think it was
a question of being at the right place at the right
time. And I also come from a business-oriented
family. My father was a businessman,” she says.
Isivuno offers an innovative, quick-fix solution to
the dire shortage of infrastructure and service
delivery in both urban and rural areas. “The
business focuses on conversions of ordinary
shipping containers into business units which
can be purchased at an affordable price.
Just to give an example of businesses that are
using our containers: we’re talking about your
spaza shops, hair salons, bakeries, schools, and so
on. All our containers come fully equipped and
ready to use,” Gumbi says.
She says her other challenge was managing cash
flow, as the business is highly capital-intensive.
Gumbi is passionate about contributing to local
economy and sustainable development. The
highlight of her business experience has been
seeing customers satisfied with the end product.
“We are getting inquiries from people who are
looking for accommodation units. And we
have already supplied some to them. I think
customers are beginning to buy-in to the idea
of considering containers as a home. In addition,
we are inundated with calls from people from
countries bordering South Africa requesting for
containers.” she says.
To aspiring entrepreneurs Gumbi says they
should not allow fear to come between them and
their business aspirations. “They should not allow
fear to control them when they want to take a
leap of faith. “I was also fearful when I started. I
had an excellent career and a comfortable job
but I still wanted to pursue my business.” “Also
doing one thing at time pays off,” she says.
Volume 27 • 2021