They run a family business.
Cultivation Point is a communication and technology services company run by sisters Kholeka, Tobeka, and Bongeka. They established it in 2014.
The Lwana sisters recently launched a new high-speed, low-cost Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP) called Lokshin WiFi. It is available at spaza shops, chesa nyamas, local supermarkets as well as online.
“It is essentially low-cost WiFi which is competitive, ranging from as low as 1 gig at R5 and a variety of affordable packages. Our strategy is to go into areas that struggle with connectivity,” Kholeka says.
“We launched on 12 August at Olievenhoutbosch in Centurion and our partners, Bellaggiotech, have an established footprint in Cosmo City. We intend to roll out our expansion plan into all provinces in the next three to six months,” she adds.
The idea of Lokshin WiFi is a passion project for the sisters as they love to be involved in anything that uplifts underprivileged communities. “Connectivity is an issue in South Africa,” she says.
“It has stopped being a luxury but has become a necessity. We found a solution that provides for underprivileged areas. As loadshedding is also an issue, we use solar which helps people to continuously stay connected, this is especially helpful for students who need to study for exams or do their homework and entrepreneurs running their businesses. As communications and marketing professionals, we wanted to extend our skill and knowledge to the benefit of under-serviced communities and do our bit in delivering solutions and services that will add value,” Kholeka adds.
The sisters are passionate about solving issues while giving back.
“As a business, we are interested in solving issues that affect the underserviced communities. We started by rolling out a coding training programme that is accredited by the MICTSeta, which is when we realised that that is not enough. Connectivity is a necessity for all communities,” Kholeka says.
“We are involved with an innovative technology provider named Fibrepoynt, they have developed a uniquely South African IP using antennae to provide affordable internet coverage to communities. This is customised for South African townships. Our other strategic partner is Flash, we use their payment platform at the point of sale with our vendors, spazas, tshisa nyamas and other businesses available in townships and rural areas,” Kholeka says.
“As women in WiFi, we intend to leave a mark in the communities we operate by creating jobs, technical skills transfer, and ensuring that we partner with local female businesses to ensure they benefit from our solution.”
They started their business Cultivation Point in 2014 with just the sisters.
“At the moment we have 10 full-time staff and a whole host of freelancers that work on various projects,” Kholeka says. In the beginning, they used their personal savings to fund and start their business.
“At first we used our own savings and we had a couple of companies that would help to fund us from time to time on various projects,” Kholeka says.
“As with Lokshin WiFi - we have a partnership with Sentech, and we are always on the lookout for more Telco partners that can provide the necessary backhaul in order to stimulate growth and expansion.”
They mostly attract clients through networking and the tendering processes.
“We have learned that mostly reputation is important because people talk and if you deliver with the excellence they will recommend and give you more opportunities, so trust is big,” she says.
As an all-women owned business, they encourage more females to start When they started their business, they faced some challenges.
“As with most startups in the beginning cash flow, access to market, not being able to define our offering succinctly whilst finding our feet,” Kholeka says.
“It was not easy to access the market and find clients that would take a chance on a new startup, but through perseverance, we have managed to gain the trust of our clients and partners.”
Working as siblings is no different from working with non-family members for the sisters.
“Challenges are the same as with any relationship. When you have two minds in one space they sometimes agree, sometimes disagree. We are no different. Instead, there are more pros than cons, it’s mostly a beautiful and rewarding experience for me certainly, as I consider myself blessed to work with incredibly creative and sharp minds,” Kholeka adds.
This Women's Month, their message to young aspiring female business owners is to go out there and make it happen for yourselves.
“Do not be afraid to tap into male-dominated spaces; there’s a gap here and opportunities are rife for us women,” Kholeka says.
“Ensure that you conduct your due diligence, sign all the necessary legal instruments, and get proper counsel before you embark on projects. Be frugal. Push more than the next person. Do not get despondent when things take time. We once persisted for two years knocking at a client’s door because we believed so much in our partnership, and it eventually happened. In the same vein, know when to cut your losses, and do not sell your soul. Always stick to your values.”