Cape Town – Award-winning local entrepreneur, Luvuyo Rani who founded the internet café chain Silulo Ulutho Technologies 10 years ago from the boot of his car, is expanding, and in the process empowering thousands of people.
He recently partnered with the London School of Business (LSB) to assist him with stakeholder management.
In terms of the partnership the LSB send of their students to work with Silulo and "this year they assisted us on how we can make Silulo investible when looking for investors," Rani told Fin24.
In the last decade Rani trained 25 000 students in end-user computing, turned some of his staff members into entrepreneurs and created full-time jobs for his 185 staff members in 40 branches in the Western and Eastern Cape.
Now, the widely celebrated entrepreneur has decided to overhaul his business by turning it into a franchise model and branching out to include a mobile services business.
"The move will allow us to grow quickly and generate income for the business. It will also allow us to move away from a customer focused business which is what the internet cafés were all about.
"The mobile services business is just another revenue stream and means to create more jobs," Rani told Fin24.
The franchise model started taking shape two years ago when Rani offered his staffers an opportunity to buy into the business - four of them now own their stores after receiving funding from the SAB Kick-start enterprise development initiative.
The mobile arm of the business will focus on the repair of smartphones, tablets, iPads and iPhones. Both hardware and software will be done in-store. People both in townships and rural areas will be able to walk in and bring their devices for repairs.
(Silulo Ulutho Technologies founder, Luvuyo Rani at the new mobile store in Khayelitsha. Pic: Supplied.)
(Inside a Silulo mobile store where repairs of iPad, iPhone and other devices will be done. Pic: Supplied.)
On the education end of the business, Silulo offers learnership programmes with Level 3 and 4 accreditation. Their learnership, a Level 5 course called System Support NQF5, is offered at their Bellville branch in Cape Town's Northern Suburbs and Eastern Cape branches in Engcobo, Queenstown and Cofimvaba.
The course runs for six months and to date Silulo has trained 25 000 students in end-user computing, Rani said.
(Silulo Ulutho Technologies graduation ceremony. Picture: Silulo Ulutho Technologies Facebook page.)
Among his many accolades, Rani was recently awarded the second runner-up IT Personality of the Year. He also won the LTE Consulting CSI - uBuntu Award by BBQ magazine. He was awarded R100 0000 which he divided equally between ten community-based organisations in Khayelitsha.
In 2016, he was also named Social Entrepreneur of the Year by the Schwab Foundation for bringing internet access to townships.
Rani's vision is to open 100 stores in 2019. He told Fin24 that his secret to success is humility and always putting customers first.
"Don't allow yourself to be drunk with success. It's important to give back to where you come from. Our success is when people succeed and we also succeed in the process," he said.