If he is not taking care of patients, he is taking care of people’s cars. For professional nurse and carwash owner Lucky ‘Shakes’ Nciya, his side hustle in Rocklands, Bloemfontein, is more than just ensuring survival; it is about his future generation. “It’s about creating a legacy. A business would be a legacy. Remember, my qualification cannot be a legacy to my children. It’s for my children and family.” In short, generational wealth.
Calls for multiple income streams have become commonplace amid the increasing standard of living. Not only does Nciya own the business, he actively works for it. His towering figure can be seen splashing, spraying, wiping and vacuuming the cars when he is not saving lives, healing and taking care of the sick at the hospital. His carwash business is an extension of a different kind of caring.
The recent Quarterly Labour Force Survey data published by Stats SA shows the unemployment rate in the Free State standing at an eye-watering 45.2%. A shocking statistic is given the fact that the province is a perennial feature at the top of the country’s matric yearly results. The township of Rocklands has a high youth unemployment rate. Weekdays look like holidays. However, owning a business like a carwash means one is almost always guaranteed to have at least one person working and earning.
The carwash employs about four people at any given time, and Katleho Hloolo is one of them. “This is currently my only source of income. It helps me a lot because I do not really struggle. With the little that I get here I’m able to take care of myself and my child,” Hloolo said. Ikhayalethu Car Care is well-positioned at the corner of the busy streets of Moshoeshoe and Thakalekoal. Seated on comfortable couches that serve as a waiting area for customers, Nciya explains how the carwash came about.
“There was a time I was sitting with my partner, and we had cash in our hands. There were so many things that we needed. Whatever we needed was not going to make us an income, so a car wash came to our mind,” he said. “We knew when the weather is bad, or people don’t bring their cars that our machines will still be there, we do not lose,” Nciya said while explaining the rationale for a carwash instead of selling food.
While Nciya sometimes has red eyes due to exhaustion of handling two jobs, he believes he manages well. “Business has always been my passion. I remember during my high school days I used to sell peanuts, I used to sell cakes. I have plenty of time. Like everyone would have time to have fun; my business is the place to have fun at. In fact, I treat my business as the main income stream because I want it to grow,” said Nciya.
However, having his nursing job helps subsidise his carwash, which means he relies less on the onerous task of applying for funding. And thankfully it also allows him to employ other people, whom he refers to as his colleagues. On the country’s jobs crisis, the business owner has an interesting take.“I think it’s a choice because you can ask people to say guys here’s something to do to earn a bit of an income. They will come, but after getting paid, they never come.” Side hustle in practice, and a few people earning an income – could it be that another solution to the unemployment rate lies with people who are already working?