Ntokozo Mtsweni started his business, Zenzelayo (Pty) Ltd, because he believes in dabbling in many kinds of trades, which ensured his company survived during the hard lockdown. Mtsweni’s creativity shines through both his woodwork and steelwork and the proof is in the wooden plates he creates, which are his most popular product. Mtsweni registered his business, which operates from KwaMhlanga in Mpumalanga, in 2020. But it has been operating informally since 2015.
Mtsweni told Vutivi News that when he opened shop, he encountered many hardships, but they were necessary to get to where he was now. “When I started the business, I was looking for a means to make a living, and because I love working with my hands and I love working with steel and wood, I started trading,” he said. “I make woodwork of all kinds, including chairs and wooden plates, and steelwork including carports, gates, palisades and benches for homes and for businesses.
“I currently have customers across the whole country and have employed three people, but it was not always like this. In fact, at one point I almost gave up.” Mtsweni first started by making furniture from tires, which helped him buy tools so he could manufacture more products. “In my early days as a businessman, I was working mostly for equipment and tools, and it was grueling,” he recalled.
“Not many people trusted my work and undermined me. Some were supportive and others went as far as charging themselves and refusing my prices.” And life became incredibly difficult for Mtsweni when the hard lockdown was introduced. “At that time, I was supplying taverns and other establishments with my products, and when they shut down, I had no customers,” he said. “So, I started knocking on residential doors and maintained their gates, palisades, and would get the occasional carport gig.”
Mtsweni’s mission to hustle with his skills helped his business survive. He now believes those hard days are over. “Whenever I encounter a challenge, I do not just cave in, but I spend time planning and strategising,” he said. “I believe that a businessman should not just know how to do one thing but should have many ideas from which to make money. “One must also consider providing people what they need, and in filling such a gap, business opportunities will always be available.”