KickStart Catch Up: Mpendulo Maseko
2014 KickStart finalist Mpendulo Maseko joined forces with fellow KickStart participants to establish a growing waste management company called Eco-Buzz Investments. We caught up with him to hear what his experience in business has taught him as a young entrepreneur.
How did you find out about KickStart and which year did you participate in the programme?
I found out about KickStart in one of our local newspapers in 2014; that is also the year I joined the programme. I decided to enter the competition because I had drive and passion for business, and I believed in my idea.
Tell us about your business idea. How has it improved and changed since your involvement in KickStart?
When I entered KickStart my focus was on the forestry industry. I observed that companies in this sector use timber to make different products, but their production processes create a lot of sawdust that goes to waste. I then developed a business idea to reuse the sawdust by converting it to firewood.
Since my involvement in KickStart, my business idea has evolved in the sense that I have ventured deeper into the recycling element, with the support of my business partners that I met through the programme. They studied waste management, and our partnership has really strengthened the business. Our business is called Eco-Buzz Investments and we do Integrated Waste Management, with the ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ approach.
How did the KickStart training change the way you think about business?
The KickStart training helped me a lot because it taught me the basics of running a business and how to read and understand financial accounts even when they are not done by you as the business owner. More so, it gave me a platform to interact with other local entrepreneurs. This has worked out well for me because I ended up going into business with fellow KickStart participants.
What, in your opinion, are the three most important qualities of a successful entrepreneur?
For me, a successful entrepreneur is passionate about their work; they are determined to grow and improve, and they never stop learning and acquiring knowledge.
Do you have any words of encouragement for other young people who want to start their own businesses?
Keep these things in mind:
- Do proper research on your product or service. Do not do it because someone else is doing it.
- Ask yourself these questions:
- Am I ready to have sleepless nights and stressful days when the business is not doing well, especially during the early days? If so, then go for it.
- Am I starting this business because I just need money to survive or am I doing it to invest back into the business? If you start a business for the sole purpose of making money, you might achieve this goal, but you may not be able to sustain it because your profits will be used more for your personal needs than business needs. So combine the financial benefits with making sure that you invest in the growth of your business.
- Do not partner with your friends or loved ones who do not have the same idea and vision as you for your business. In addition to this, don’t start businesses with friends who have the same habits and skills as you. Build a diverse team and use your resources efficiently.
- Finally, know your service or product and always look for ways to improve it. Things are changing every day, so get with the times and add new things to your business.