By: Tebogo Mokwena
Although Thobile Nyawo studied civil engineering, she decided to become an entrepreneur to solve some of the country’s pressing problems. Her newest business is a solar company, where she has designed a payment model which enables small businesses, residents and organisations to afford alternative energy solutions to lessen the impact of load-shedding.
Nyawo established Isambane Energy last year when power cuts started increasing dramatically. The company operates nationally and employs seven technicians. Nyawo told Vutivi News that she saw how small businesses, communities and organisations were struggling to stay afloat because they had no alternative energy backup. She said that through her payment options, she was making alternative energy accessible to everyone who was willing to invest in solar energy.
“A lot of people do not have the money upfront so we have a rent-to-own option, we also provide finance and apply for customers at the bank on their behalf, we provide a lay-by option as well as a once-off payment option,” the businesswoman said. Nyawo also said it was important for South Africans to take their own initiative to deal with the energy crisis instead of always laying the blame at the government’s door.
“As people, we need to take the initiative and see what we can do ourselves,” she said. “Restaurants, for example, are also affected by load-shedding, so they improvised and bought gas stoves and solar panels, so as citizens we must also take the leap of faith.” Nyawo is no stranger to owning companies. She established Nyawo Construction in 2014 after completing her studies. The company, which is based in Johannesburg, employs over 70 people and operates nationally.
Nyawo established Zete Telecoms during the lockdown when the need for fibre connectivity increased due to more people working from home. She said she had to start this company to make money because the construction sector ground to a halt during the lockdown. Nyawo told Vutivi News that in order for aspiring entrepreneurs to be able to provide lasting solutions to South Africa’s problems, they should follow five lessons that she had learned since starting her entrepreneurial journey.
“The first lesson I learned was to stay true to myself. As a woman, many men came and tried to take advantage of me in order to benefit, but because I stayed true to myself, I did not sell myself for a deal,” she said. “The second is that there are no friends in business, the third is that you do not play with money in business, the fourth is to stay consistent, and the fifth is not to give up on yourself.”