Many university students drop out because their financial situations prevent them from studying further. But Katekani Nyambe is not one of those people. Instead of throwing in the towel, he used the last bit of money he had and turned to entrepreneurship to keep his dream of obtaining a degree alive. And because of this decision, he not only completed his degree but was also able to use the qualification to grow his atchar business from operating on the streets to a shop with its own delivery bakkie.
Nyambe’s story began in 2015 when he was studying for a degree in Operations Management at the Tshwane University of Technology. However, Nyambe’s financial situation turned dire and he was faced with the option of quitting or finding another way to pay for his fees. “The only thing that came to my mind in those days was that I can sell atchar,” he told Vutivi News. “I borrowed R150 from a friend, and I ordered 10 buckets of atchar, which I used to begin my business, Vha Mane Productions.”
Nyambe sold atchar on the streets of Pretoria and also had a stall on campus. “Every day after class I would sell atchar and that helped me pay off my fees and obtain my degree,” he said. “After graduating, I saw that the business was becoming profitable and I decided to use my qualifications for the betterment of my own enterprise,” Nyambe said that sometimes it got really tough, and there were even some moments when he had to decide to give up or continue with the business.
“It took me four years of operating the business to be able to move into a shop,” he said. “The experience I gained enabled me to win a competition for small businesses in which I was awarded R50,000, which I used to set up shop.” However, soon after the shop started, the lockdown hit hard, and the number of clients dropped drastically because they lost their jobs and could no longer pay for their goods. “It was also a difficult time because we would make just enough to survive, but not enough to make a profit.”
However, Nyambe said that things began looking up after the lockdown was lifted, and today he now supplies atchar to Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape, the Western Cape and the Free State. He also employs four people. “I love working with people, and that has always been my motivation to continue,” he said. “Life is like a wheelbarrow in that going forward or going backward all depends on whether you push yourself in a forward direction or you pull yourself in a backward direction.”