Matome Maphala took one look at a broken geyser one day and decided at that moment to turn a piece of metal into a business that is blazing through the competition. Maphala never imagined that he would be an entrepreneur. But when he realised that his electrician qualifications would not help him get a job, he looked for inspiration in the most unlikely place.
Maphala said that when he started making braai stands from broken geysers in 2017, it was after realising that he could turn junk into a profit. “My brother was doing his welding apprenticeship and kept a welding machine in the yard to practice,” Maphala, who is based in Seshego in Polokwane, said.
“I was struck by the idea of converting the geyser into a braai stand and went about using my brother’s machine to practice welding before I put my idea into practice,” he told Vutivi News. “I wanted to see how my idea would come out, and to my surprise, it came out really well. I saw how beautifully the braai stand (turned) out and I went about hunting for broken geysers in the neighbourhood.
“Some people would give their broken geysers to me for free and some would sell it,” he said. In 2020 he registered his business, Matswi Braai Stands. “What is interesting about my craft is the fact that I use something as unexpected as a geyser to turn it into a braai stand,” Maphala said.
“I make different types and designs of braai stands, including the ‘smoker’ braai stand which has a lid and acts as a smoker, and the semi smoker, amongst others,” Maphala said that when he started his business, he was advised by a friend to advertise his products.
“My friend told me to display my products on the roadside in Polokwane where I would hopefully get customers,” he said. “The gamble paid off as I was able to get a lot of customers and my craft was noticed,” Maphala told Vutivi News that he had no regrets about launching his company. “I studied to become an electrician and I am a qualified electrician, but I never got a job in that sector,” he said.
“It was during days when I would distribute my CV at various companies seeking employment, that this idea struck.” Maphala has been overwhelmed by the response to his braai stands. “I was expecting my business to grow in the next five years, but today I have people requesting braai stands in other cities like Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town,” he said.
“It is because of this that next year I will be able to start couriering them to these and other cities in order for my footprint to be felt even in other provinces”.