Penwell Bahula, who owns Lily of the Valley Enterprises, which is a fruit and vegetable business, was often teased when he was a child because he wanted to ensure that his family had food. From the tender age of eight, Bahula tasted the hardships of life and responded by selling vegetables.
Bahula told Vutivi News that when he grew up on the streets of Siyabuswa in Mpumalanga, he was made fun of because he wanted to ensure that his family did not go hungry. “My father rarely came home and when he did come, he would leave behind vegetables in bulk,” he said. “One day when we had no food in the house, my brother and I decided to take the remaining bag of onions and sell it in order to buy food.”
Bahula said that this was the story of his childhood – he and his siblings would sell vegetables to survive, which also put them through school and university. “I was always laughed at and called names, and when my peers would be playing outside, I would be busy selling vegetables with my siblings.”
But thanks to these sacrifices, he was able to study IT and Multimedia Science and registered the “business that raised his family” in 2017, which he says is one of the fastest-growing fruit and vegetable enterprises in Siyabuswa. The company went from selling fruit and vegetables on street corners to supplying Siyabuswa and some of Gauteng with produce that he sources mostly from black farmers, which make up 60% of his suppliers.
This entrepreneurial tenacity also saw Bahula launch Green Legacy Creatives in 2016, which is a media company that houses artists and offers marketing solutions for other businesses. “I was also grafted as a chief liaison officer into Sweet Violet Cakery, a business that my brother launched in 2019 with his wife,” he said.
Bahula told Vutivi News that some of the lessons he had learned on his journey was not to undermine anyone’s business, no matter its size, and to respect everyone and help as many people as possible. “The very same people that made fun of me growing up are now asking me for advice. This taught me that life can take a surprising turn much like a game of dice, he said.
“I am also thankful that I was able to partner with a New York-based company to help artists sell their music in 130 different countries for a few years. This journey has also cemented the bond between me and my siblings because the bond is unbreakable.”