By: Anna Majavu
After being suddenly retrenched from state arms manufacturer Denel, colleagues Collin Xhanti Kambi and Tshepo Ndhlovu spent their days applying for jobs and playing games on their Xboxes to de-stress. “We saw that the little money we had was running out. My dad always said ‘If you have a two-litre bottle and are always pouring and never filling it, it will dry up’,” said Ndhlovu. This, and their love for gaming, prompted them to use their last cents to open two Xbox gaming lounges for children at their homes in Tskane in Ekurhuleni and Ratanda, south of Heidelberg, in Gauteng.
They named their small business Prof Kolion Services. “Being at home, you can only sit in front of the computer applying for work for so many hours before you start bouncing off the walls. Gaming was de-stressing for both of us and considering that we both grew up in townships where there weren’t opportunities for the kids, we decided to plant something positive,” Ndhlovu added. Each gaming lounge has five Xboxes and runs out of their garages. Children walk for up to 3km to play FIFA and other games on the Xbox at a cost of R5 for 15 minutes.
This doesn’t bring the business much profit, but according to them “If you look at where we are, we must meet people halfway”. “We want the kids to play, have fun and be happy and stay away from the drugs that are all over,” Xhanti Kambi told Vutivi News. He added that their other goal was to give township children “a sense of winning”. “There are not many competitions in townships, and they enjoy it because they play to win. We want to give them the experience of what other privileged kids get when they sit in their parents’ lounges and play nice games.”
They opened the gaming lounge in Ratanda in October 2022, and in Tsakane in December 2022. The duo also sells Xbox’s and they dream of helping other retrenched people start gaming lounges in their communities. “We can build entrepreneurs in other townships, other guys who have lost their jobs and don’t know where to start,” Ndhlovu said. They run weekly tournaments and a monthly “Champion of Champions” tournament where youngsters receive medals and a braai. They also sponsor a local soccer team and often overhear their young gaming enthusiasts using the Xbox game to strategise for their real-life games on the pitch.
The pair have also purchased school stationery for some who cannot afford it, and have managed to hire five full-time staff: two supervisors, two relievers and a repair person to fix the joysticks. The thought of anyone robbing them keeps them awake at night. They have had no government support or funding, which they need to install security around the lounges and to hire bigger premises. “We only use our garages because we don’t have bigger places. We always discuss how we are going to secure the lounges and it boils down to the same challenge of funding. It is a big issue and we are worried about it,” said Xhanti Kambi.