PROFILE: Out with the new, in with the old 

This thrift maven is not only drastically growing her own local, inclusive, sustainable business, but she also empowers others to do the same. 

Wits graduate Gabrielle Onay has redefined much of the second-hand scene in Johannesburg through their thrift store “Crybaby Thrift”  and popular sustainable flea market “Picnic and Thrift”. 

Born in 1999 in Johannesburg, Onay describes herself as a “seichel” – a Yiddish term which is associated with someone who uses ingenuity, creativity, subtlety and nuance in their work and life. 

Sustainable businesswoman Gabrielle Onay posing in her office in front of many of the things she is proud of, one being her BA degree from Wits. Photo: Seth Thorne

While doing her undergraduate BA degree in sociology and Portuguese – she would later achieve an honours in sociology – Onay wanted to find a way to make money as a university student to not only feed her cigarette addiction but to pay for fees.  

With a lifelong interest in fashion, “thrifting” (the reselling of second-hand items) and passion for sustainability, culminated in her online business. Onay hates everything about fast fashion due to its harmful effects on both labour and the environment. “[Big companies] have proven themselves as bad for this earth,” she said.  

In 2018, she began marketing her second-hand clothing on Instagram using the name “Crybaby Thrift,” which gained a substantial following and quickly expanded into selling merchandise made with upcycled clothes. In the process of upcycling, Onay uses businesses run by other Wits students to print and embryoid designs.  

In an interview with Wits Vuvuzela, Onay said that she believes that a new future of exchange is dawning – with thrift being its new currency. “Sustainability is our generation’s way forward,” said Onay.  

In 2019 Onay, alongside sustainable gift shop owner and close friend Ruby Prager created a market, Picnic and Thrift,  comprised of young business owners from the university community. Onay described them as “the thrifters of Wits”.  

Underestimating their pull, Onay and Prager needed to find a bigger space after attracting several hundred visitors to their own backyard in Houghton. The monthly market attracts around 2 000 visitors, with around 40 thrift and sustainable product stalls. 

The market also prides itself on being a “queer-friendly space” – one which allows members and allies of the LGBTQIA+ community to not only grow and support their businesses but allow for free, unfiltered self-expression for attendees. Truthfully so, the event has become very much synonymous with the Johannesburg queer scene. 

Rewoven, a company that sells materials and products made from textile waste, came across Onay’s work, and wrote the following: 

“Crybaby Thrift sits in the heart of queer eccentric culture – it is a curated and unique brand that is centred around sustainability, high fashion, and ethical consumption and development. Crybaby Thrift is also a community and small business development hub.

Onay describes this as intentional to change a narrative around the Joburg queer community as “not just being associated with hard nightlife.” She describes the space as “lovely, gentle and welcoming.” 

Prager described their pure happiness at witnessing Onay’s business and personal growth. “Watching Gabi [alongside other student businesses] grow in the space that they have, has been incredible. I cannot wait to see what they do next. I cannot wait to see what we do next.” 

As much as Onay has achieved in this sustainable business adventure, she says that she is just getting started. So, watch out fashion industry – Gabrielle is coming for you one pre-loved item at a time.  

FEATURED: Thrifter and businesswoman Gabrielle Onay sorting through her upcycled Crybaby Thrift clothing products. Photo: Seth Thorne


The barbershop where generations have come to let their hair down

Melville’s 4th Avenue has had its share of the hustle and bustle of shops opening and closing, but the barbershop and the man who owns it tell a different story. The barbershop is a marvel that has seen the changes of the Melville landscape but has remained as it is, where it is, for 48 years.

WALKING ALONG 4th Avenue in Melville, a car races past me, whizzing into the oblivion that thrives in the city life. On the side of the road, a car washer smothers a red Fiat in soap bubbles as the sun dries the soapy water away before he can wipe it down. Across the road I notice a small shop in between a framer and a Lebanese restaurant.

TIMELESS: Fred Moss is Melville’s friendly face
and owner of the Scala hair salon. 

Scissors are cut into the shop’s gate and the old rustic feel of the windows and signage tell me that the shop has been in existence for a while. Peering through the words written on the window, I spot an older man in a white coat. His hands working precisely to get that perfect cut for the grey-haired man sitting in his chair.

The Melville barbershop, Scala, has been in existence for 48 years and is one of the oldest existing shops in the Melville area. The hair salon was originally part of the Scala corner, an establishment at the corner of 4th Avenue and 7th Street Melville, which included a bakery, supermarket and bioscope. The barbershop was passed down from father to son. Little did the young 17-year-old know that the shop would exist for a lifetime and that he would become part of the tapestry of the Melville suburb.

Entering the small shop, I am met with a welcoming smile. The man in the white coat introduces himself as Fred Moss. His wrinkled, red-faced facial features tell tales of a long-winded road; a journey of where he is now. His calloused fingers seem rough with years of experience and his piercing blue eyes peer into the soul of every person who walks through the salon’s doors.

“I hated working here,” Fred tells me one afternoon. For Fred, becoming a barber was not his first dream, he had wanted to become a sign writer as he loved drawing. Unfortunately, Fred doesn’t have much time to draw today as he did back in the day.

The 65-year-old didn’t have it easy when he was younger. At 17, he was forced by his father to leave school and work in the barbershop. At the time, the shop was owned by Fred’s father, George Moss, and Fred’s brother-in-law, Piet Wessels. He spent his days cleaning up the shop.

In 1970, Fred joined the army for three months. That was when he realised that “In for a penny, in for a pound” (meaning, if you’re going to do something you should see it through till the end and put your all into it) and reconciled himself with being in the business.

During the time, he had no choice as the army was an obligation for every white man, once they had turned 18 in South Africa. At the time, under apartheid, Melville was a white suburb. Fred’s brother-in-law had left the business and Fred’s father had told him that he had to either take over the business or the barbershop would close. In 1971, Fred took out a loan and bought the business for R900, an investment that he is reaping the rewards of today. 

After Fred took over the business, he became a master at cutting hair and completed his apprenticeship, in a year. He also found it hard to fulfil his obligations in relation to the 10-year contract with the army. In 1974, he managed to amend his contract with the army so that he was commissioned to cut hair and became known as the army barber.

VINTAGE: These red chairs line one side of Fred’s shop. He bought them at a bargain price from the army and believes that they give his shop an authentic barber feel. 

The carved chairs that line the left side of his store are a relic from his army days. Fred grins as he tells me, “I stole them legally.” When the army was getting rid of the chairs, Fred asked whether he could buy them for R150 each. The general at the time refused his request at first, believing that the chairs were worth way more than that, but Fred didn’t back down and eventually got the chairs for what he believes was a ‘steal’. “Even if someone came today and offered me R20 000 for each chair, I would not sell them, they are part of me and the barbershop,” Fred says.

Asked about what made him fall in love with the job eventually, Fred says that the people with whom he interacted made him realise his passion. “I haven’t actually got customers, I have friends. They all share very personal things with me. Sometimes I feel like I am a psychologist rather than a barber,” Fred chuckles.

George and Piet had to take out surety for Fred in case he encountered any debt while running the business.

“There have been ups and downs in the business and some months are more difficult than others,” Fred says.

When times get tough, customers cut down on luxuries, says Fred. A haircut is one of those luxuries, but Fred says that his customers tell him that things are a bit tight for the month, so they will return the following month.

Surprisingly, Fred has never spent a cent on an advertisement. All his clients have come from word of mouth because of how well-known he has become in the Melville community. He says that over the past few years, he has been privileged to gain traction from being featured on the popular South African television show, 7de Laan. Scala is also often hired out for companies and brands to shoot their advertisements in, and from there people want to come and see the famous Scala barber.

In the 1970s monthly rental for the barbershop was R45. Today Fred pays R10 000, which Fred says has come under the economic pressures of the times. But he says that it is fair considering that the price for a haircut has also gone up. Fred used to charge 35c for an adult’s haircut in the 1970s. Today he charges R100.

FAMILIAR: Fred sits on the steps leading into his shop as he observes the bustle of 4th Avenue.
Despite his age, he has no plans to retire anytime soon, saying that he has put his whole life into the business.

The 65-year-old talks about how he has adapted to what goes on around him, but has never changed the salon. For Fred, he wanted to keep the authenticity of the barbershop and never felt the need to change the decor in or outside the shop.

“Never mind, I’ll find someone like you…”, singer Adele whispers in the background as I look around the barbershop. Where the ceiling meets the walls, are hanging caps – blue, red, green, South African. Three old-fashioned barber chairs are lined up on one side of the shop, while on the right-hand side are the old, magical, red chairs.

They look as if when you sit on them, they would transform into time machines, shooting you back to a time when hippies were a whole generation. Nothing has changed inside the salon. But looking out on 7th Street, a Chevy Camaro bounces down the street with Michael Jackson’s “The way you make me feel, you really turn me on…” blasting from its speakers.

STREETWISE: If you visit Melville, you are sure to spot James, who is the only car guard on 4th Avenue. He and Fred have a family-like relationship and James is grateful for Fred’s presence in the neighbourhood. 

I approached the car washer after I had seen him enter Fred’s shop multiple times. James Mokhalinyane seems a lot younger than his 33 years. The red bucket-cap that has swallowed his face hides his big eyes and eerie smile. His hands tell tales of a hard worker, finding whatever jobs he can to survive, on a tar that has adopted him as part of the road signs.

James has been hustling on 7th Street for more than 20 years and has a bond with Fred that one can only describe as being part of the family. “To me, [Fred] is like my father. When he has some jobs at his shop, when I need some money or even when the police come and try to chase me away, he negotiates my stay with them,” a grateful James says.

James says that since he started working in the area there has been a lot of shift and change. “Before it used to be good, now it’s too much clubs and crime,” he says.

Even while the suburb is over-run by students roaming the street, if one stops and listens closely enough, one can hear the hum of the wind or the buzz of sunshine on a hot summer’s day. It is hard to believe that crime has grimly seeped its way into the suburb, destroying the atmosphere that once was.

James invites me to sit on the side of the hot pavement as he tells me about how the businesses that have opened in Melville now don’t know what the people want, and that is why some of them are failing miserably.

“Fred is different,” he says as he allows me the privilege of a grin, “He has his regular customers and he knows what people want. He hasn’t changed a lot over the years and he isn’t like other barbers where you must make an appointment. You can just walk into Fred’s shop at any time and the man is happy to help.”

VIDEO: Fred has been cutting hair for most of his life and says that one has to be an artist in order to cut someone’s hair. Fred has cut hair for four generations of men and will continue to do so until he cannot anymore. He shares some of his tips and techniques he has learnt over the years.

A tall, grey man enters the salon, and greets Fred like an old friend. Taking a seat on one of the shop’s barber chairs, he begins to engage with Fred over the troubles that have recently taken over his life. Fred’s hands work precisely, cutting stray strands and neatening up the fellow’s hair as he listens with intent and offers sound advice.

Brahm Spies, a 70-year-old lawyer, needs no invitation for introductions. “Fred is part of the furniture. He has been cutting my hair for 40 years, back when it was all black,” the gentleman throws his head back as he lets out a roar of laughter.

Brahm is moving to Cape Town in December and is distraught that he might have to change barbers. “I might just fly back to get my hair cut once a month,” Spies says. 

A bare-footed older man, Japie Le Roux, pads his way into the shop when he decides to take a seat next to me. He yaps on about how he has known Fred for 48-years and has only ever cut his hair in the comfort of the Scala hair salon.

“I have never had any complaints about Fred, but I would suggest that you don’t believe a word that comes out of his mouth,” he and Fred chuckle as they share an inside joke.

For Natasha Hunter, another customer, until five years ago, Melville had been her whole life. St Swithins Avenue is the street that Natasha used to live with her family.

Natasha says that she loved growing up in Melville. “When I was 12 or so, I remember one year for Mardi Gras, that we camped out in Fred’s shop watching the festivities,” she says.

Now 33 years old, Natasha says she was little when her father started taking her to Scala to get her hair cut. As a little girl Natasha was not keen on cutting her hair but with Fred being the barber everything was always a little bit more humorous. “I was so upset, that he then took the hair and put it on my head and said, ‘See, it will stick and grow back,” Natasha recounts the fiasco that took place that first day at Scala.

SNIP, SNIP: Fred attends to a regular customer, Mauritz Cloete. Although Mauritz has only been coming to Scala for two years, he says that Fred has the best expertise of the barbers in the area. He adds that Fred’s prices are good, which keeps him coming back. 

Although she has not visited the area for five years, Natasha says it would be disappointing to come to Melville and not see Fred or the barbershop. Hers is a testimony to Fred’s friendliness that has kept Scala going for the 48-years that he has run the business.

According to Natasha, Fred has managed to stay in the area for so long because, “He gets to know his customers on a personal basis, his friendly way with people, and the fact that through thick and thin, he has stuck it out.”

FEATURED IMAGE: Fred Moss is Melville’s friendly face and owner of the Scala hair salon. Photo: Naeemah Dudan.


‘Kasipreneurs’ rise above

Soweto sees a rise in residents turning to the business side in efforts to earn a living.

The gate noisily creaks as you step inside, hearing the hum of machinery; whirring, clanking and grind as the gears press together. In the middle of the warehouse a young short stout man wearing khaki pants and slops due to the heat, is cutting and sewing a piece of leather on the sewing machine, with his brows knitted together in deep concentration.

Initially the warehouse looks messy, filled with different materials scattered on the floor and various furniture items. From traditional old upholstered couches to beautiful green couches with a golden trimmings. The place reeks of old carpet and dust.

Across from the young man, a timid middle-aged woman wearing a green pinafore is also sewing and quietly humming along to the faint tune playing in the background. As you draw closer to the noise, on the left of the warehouse in the office, an awkward skinny young man is working on a laptop bobbing his head to the now audible tune.

The big warehouse that has outlasted the others has a rusty relic of ages gone, is where these two young Kliptown residents, now 33-year-old entrepreneurs Nhlanhla Maseko and Tshepo Selaelo Ramalapa have been running Kidos Design and Upholstery furniture for the past 10 years.

Maseko and Ramalapa opened their doors for business in 2007 with the financial assistance of Soweto Kliptown Youth founder Bob Nameng. The two man show assisted by their trusty seamstress Lungile Gumbi, Maseko and Ramalapa have survived the test of time, self-funding their passion for their design business starting with about R10 000 capital while facing the challenges of raising more funds.

In the country of growing entrepreneurship success stories, victory is often the measure in money. However, in this case it is about the many years of hard work, determination and perseverance.

Maseko and Ramalapa are deciding to take a leap of faith and abandon their biggest money maker of furniture upholstery. This money-making model saw Kidos make R15 000 to R30 000 turnover a month. The duo has decided duo to enter the next phase of their business, expanding Kidos into manufacturing and supplying its unique furniture in large quantities of 100 units and more, which they expect to double their profits.

SEWFUL: Kido’s Design and Upholstery co-owner Nhlanhla Maseko prepares to make a new couch, cutting the piece of leather before sewing it.

For the young entrepreneurs, realising their dream in Kliptown will come at a cost. “For us to supply big furniture shops, we need more staff with proper workmanship. One of our biggest challenges is that in most cases that many people are not skilled. We still have to teach and it’s a bit difficult because people are motivated by cash,” said Maseko.

Maseko often rubs the back of his neck to ease the aches and pains from bending over the sewing machine for most of the day.

Despite the challenges and hardships Kidos has endured over the last decade, Maseko and Ramalapa are proud of the work they have done and business they have created. “This is [our] passion, more than anything this is what we love,” said the owners smiling optimistically.

Thus far their clientele comes from all over Soweto to source their meticulous workmanship at an affordable price. Maseko and Ramalapa created their business out of an idea that came to them from the environment in which they live, work and play. “For most black people, most furniture shops are too expensive to buy. The mark-up is so high. A lounge suite in the mall is like R30 000, but when you come to us, you’ll get the same suite with the same quality for 19 000,” said Maseko.

An elderly man of quiet demeanour walks into the shop looking for Maseko, to get his daughter’s car seats repaired. As a loyal customer for years, Henry Bopape from Diepsloot found Kidos through word of mouth.

Bopape said, “I trust Kliks [Maseko]. Ngiyawuthanda umsebenzi wabo [I love their work] and proud that they are creating opportunities for themselves and others. However, [Kidos] need more support from like government or other assisting stakeholders.”

The young business owners believe that Kliptown is one of the perfect places to start building and uplifting South Africa’s black community. Kidos provides skills to the fellow youth of Kliptown.

ORDER IN THE MESS: Co-owner Nhanhla Maseko plans and designs all the furniture Kidos Design and Upholstery manufactures.

Transforming townships into sites for productive activities

WE HAVE A DREAM: Sentiments of the iconic and historical freedom charter, which was signed in Kliptown in 1955.

There is chatter between sellers and buyers, old friends catching up and new friends made 25 kilometres south west of the Johannesburg CBD. Upon first glance in the Kliptown’s CBD, the average shops and market stalls seem to be in an organised disarray. Usually, one shop sells everything from cooked food to general household items.

There is always a hustle and bustle of someone trying to make a buck and trying to steer clear of the big black hole of unemployment.

Kliptown is one of the oldest urban settlements in the city rich with history: work, play and home to South Africa’s diverse ethnic and racial groupings. Kliptown was the backdrop of the adoption of the Freedom Charter in 1955 by the Congress of the People. In the Freedom Charter it states that “The People Shall Share in the Country’s Wealth: furthermore, all people shall have equal rights to trade where they choose, to manufacture and to enter all trades, crafts and professions.”

Today, Kliptown has become a community of hope, opportunity, growth and severe heartbreak. However, this diverse and unique environment brings with it opportunities to develop and create products and services that service the people of Kliptown.

The long road ahead …

On The Redi Tlhabi show June 2015, Gordons Institute for Business Science (GIBS) head of faculty of entrepreneurship Dr Jonathan Marks said, entrepreneurship is not yet recognised for the impact it can have on unemployment in South Africa.

According to City of Joburg, 2006, “Chapter 7: Sustainable Human Settlements” in “Reflecting on a solid foundation: Building developmental local government 2000 – 2005 Report” the Kliptown area has a population size of between 38 000 and 45 000 people.

The total labour force is estimated at 41 994, with the unemployment rate between 60%-70%. More than half of the population has no monthly income.

The Kliptown job centre that was opened in June 2016, is part of the Gauteng provincial government’s Tshepo 500 000 Programme. The programme was established to create half a million new sustainable jobs for the youth by 2019.

According to the centre’s data capture officer Thulisile Nyakame the centre has only registered 3000 peoples CVs. Only 10% to 15% of those people have been successful in getting a job with local companies and businesses.

However, the job centre has not achieved what it hoped to do. The deputy chairperson of the Kliptown business forum, United Business Empowerment Network (UBEN) Khotso Malaba said, the development and infrastructure of Kliptown does not support the necessary growth for employment and entrepreneurship.

PLAZA HUSTLE AND BUSTLE: The Kliptown Plaza is the CBD Kliptown area, where it always busy with traders, shop owners and consumers selling and buying their goods everyday.

Molaba said primary business sectors within Kliptown need to assist with the formation of a secondary economic trading sector/industry such as a recycling business started by fellow Kliptownians. “These are opportunities that are not being exploited. There quite a lot of development that needs to be done,” said Molaba.

In the last few years, Kliptown has seen a huge injection of funds towards its heritage status, with business developments centred on the development of Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication. However, majority of the Kliptown residents still do not have access to land that can be effectively developed for development and entrepreneurship.

However, resourceful individuals like Albert Mmbengwa has found an “interesting” ways of providing food services to consumers and creating his own opportunity of employment by turning to the gamble of entrepreneurship.

After being unemployed for almost three years, 54-year-old Mmbengwa took his future into his own hands, starting his fried chip business six months ago on the side fourth street, about 150m away from the Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication.

ORDER NO. 1: Chip seller Albert Mmbengwa.

Attempting to support his family of four with the R350 he makes a day from his chip business Mmbengwa said in isiZulu, “I took the decision to buy the necessary equipment to make the chips and open my business so that I can survive and have something to wake up to everyday. My goal is that one day I will have my own fast food store and make it a franchise.”

According to a Gordons Institute for Business Science (GIBS) 2015 report on entrepreneurship in South Africa, the entrepreneurial activity is improving but still falls short in comparison with other parts of the world.

THE DESTINATION: Come taste some African goodness and have a fine dining express at Boja Nala, located at the Walter Sisulu Square in Kliptown.

The GIBS report claims that aspirant and existing entrepreneurs still face huge challenges and frustrations. GIBS said South Africa’s financial and operating environment is not supportive enough of entrepreneurs, particularly in terms of regulations, policies and access to capital.

Loyal customer of Mmbengwa’s chip business Manfred Thompson said, as a causal unemployed worker he loves to support the local business in Kliptown.

“I buy here almost every day. It’s something cheaper for us because most the time we can’t afford to buy the R15 packet of chips at the store. There is no time for us to sit and eat, so the little we got we use for Albert’s chips,” said Thompson.

After Thompson gets his chips, he and Mmbengwa exchange brief parting words. Mmbengwa takes a deep breath and lets out a fatigued puff. The harsh Kliptown spring sunshine illuminates Mmbengwa’s tired, worn face, wrinkles boring deeply into his skin. He smiles to himself, happy with his earnings for the day thus far.

Many consumers who live in the townships enjoy the convenience of being able to find the same services and goods that people in the city have access to. Since, Kliptown is a primary trading space, Boja Nala restaurant brings the city flair of fine dining and eating experience.

Boja Nala serves steak and other various cuts of meat with a side starch of your choice – ranging from R90-110.

The atmosphere in Boja Nala is laid back, warm and inviting with a cosy lounge feel. Although the restaurant is dimly lit, the high beaming ceilings, earthy African décor and works wonders for the ambience.

After being around for only three months at the square, Boja Nala 39-year-old self-funded owner Mike Menyasto said he chose Kliptown in order to bring South Africa’s buying power to the impoverished but improving township.

“We are starting to attract people with buying power. We don’t want to attract just anyone but the people who make the market. We have not reached the level we want yet. Success is affordability and making money and that is what we aim to do. Currently we are making a turnover of R21 000 on average per month,” said Menyatso.

HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS: Boja Nala has an eclectic African décor, which gives warm and inviting atmosphere.

Loyal daily customer, well-built vivacious Beefy Q. Rayners speaks highly of Boja Nala and the great potential it has.

“There is no coffee shop here in Kliptown and the food they serve here is different. It is exciting coming here every day finding something new.”

Boja Nala which means destination in Tshwana has become thee food destination for Rayners. “Everyone else is selling pap and meat. The chefs at Boja Nala compile their menu thinking what it is new that they can do to attract each and every customer that walks by the board, which keeps me wondering ‘ooh what’s for lunch’. Soweto Hotel has not seen me again.

Manyatso has learnt that entrepreneurship one has to be able to roll with the punches and adapt to the unpredictable climate of business. Initially starting as a coffee shop, Manyatso expanded with the demand to a fully-fledged restaurant.

Slowly the economic developments driven by the township economy are finding entrepreneurial prospects more viable as a means to create one’s own opportunities.

‘Passion to enterprise’ is quickly outweighing the desperation to make ends meet, proving that Kliptown has an enterprising spirit.

“Mike’s ideas and what it is that he wants to achieve with the restaurant is very good over a long period of time. So it’s going to take some time to get to where he needs to be.” Said Rayners.

Yes, Kliptown has shabby run-down third-world streets lined with dirt, and unemployed people but do not be fooled by the poverty and restlessness in the old township.

There is an incredible spirit of resilience and creativity that will help Kliptown become a part of Johannesburg’s entrepreneurial heartbeat.

WINNING BARGAIN: Vegetable seller at Walter Sisulu Dedication Square sucessfully bargains with a customer.

The deputy chairperson UBEN Molaba agreed with the sentiment that entrepreneurship empowers citizens and is required for any emerging market to move forward.

He said the “black industry needs to thrive and need to circulate the rand. The rand doesn’t circulate enough times in Kliptown. This will assist in alienating the depression of Kliptown. Trust and buy black products and services in order to grow Kliptown entrepreneurship.”

Township entrepreneurship is important to South Africa’s economic and social development. Entrepreneurs create innovative and sometimes new competitive markets and businesses, which can lead to job creation and community upskilling.

FEATURED IMAGE: Kido’s Design and Upholstery co-owner Nhlanhla Maseko prepares to make a new couch, cutting the piece of leather before sewing it.. Photo: Nomvelo Chalumbira.


Cool kid on campus: Thando Gumede

Thando Sibongiseni Gumede, a final year Law student at Wits, is not only an Allan Gray Scholarship recipient and a Brightest Young Minds (BYM) awardee, but is also an advocate for the education of black girl children and substantive equality. A self-proclaimed feminist, she remains highly competitive in a male dominated industry.

COOL KID: Thando Gumede, a final year law student is not only interested in Law but in the advancement of black girl children through education. Photo: Katleho Sekhotho

COOL KID: Thando Gumede, a final year law student is not only interested in Law but in the advancement of black girl children through education. Photo: Katleho Sekhotho

You are studying Law but also have a keen interest in entrepreneurial activities, why?

Where the world is going is something I like to call cross-educational pollination. It means that gone are the days where law students go to law school to become a lawyer. So now, faculties will be teaching skills, skills that can go anywhere and in any way they want to.

Entrepreneurship is a mind-set where you identify inefficiencies and then solve those problems. So when you have cross-educational pollination, then someone who’s an engineer has got the hopes of becoming the president, not just a politics student.

You were chosen as one of the ‘Brightest Young Minds’. What exactly does that mean and how do you feel to be chosen as one?

It’s about collecting the brightest young minds on the African continent, 100 people all over Africa came together through a selection process. It wasn’t about marks, it was really just about people who presented ideas and presented themselves in a genuine way. All I can say is wow! The event was a great networking opportunity.

What are you currently working on?

There are basically two things I’m working on, it’s a new technology for sanitary pads and the other is a tech company. I’ve written a research paper on that [the former], it was about the right to basic education for black girl children in rural South Africa; one of the hindrances of going to school is [a girls] menstruation, so their biological disposition.

The postulation I make is that I say to the state, it has a constitutional obligation to balance the scales for both boys and girls.

You say you are an advocate for education and particularly substantive education, what does that mean?

Government needs to provide proper sanitation in schools, pads and panties to girls, particularly to girls in that community, either through social grants or making those things freely available to them.

That is called substantive equality. It’s better than formal equality, substantive equality asks why? At the starting line you need to remove all the rocks and boulders that are on the race track for girls to be able to manoeuvre themselves freely and equally.

DJ Sbu talks business at Wits

MOFAYA: DJ Sbu powers up while he motivates Wits students to start own businesses. Photo: Tanisha Heigberg

MOFAYA: DJ Sbu powers up while he motivates Wits students to start own businesses. Photo: Tanisha Heigberg

“You are stronger than the strongest washing powder,” were one of the words of wisdom dished out by popular South African DJ Sbu at Wits University on Wednesday.

Sbu, whose real name is Sibusiso Leope, was speaking at a talk hosted by the Wits Black Lawyers Association (BLA) on west campus.

Leope, focused his talk on his prolific rise in business and was full of entrepreneurships hints and tips.

“Be good in selling yourself, a lot of graduates cannot sell themselves during job interviews,” he said.

Leope describes himself as a musician, producer, author and entrepreneur. Leope was raised in Gauteng townships including Tembisa, Daveyton and Soshanguve and started working at the age of 12 in his parents’ spaza shop.

Patrick Mahlangu, a UJ (University of Johannesburg) BComm Masters student told Wits Vuvuzela that the talk was inspirational and it was “encouraging seeing a fellow black person doing great in South Africa, someone we can relate to, who has a similar background to many black young South Africans”.

“A positive attitude, mentorships and internships gets you one foot in the door to success,” Leope said.

The DJ told Wits Vuvuzela that he being an entrepreneur gives him an opportunity to serve people, particularly his community. He urged students to read more, emphasizing that knowledge is power quoting Robert Kiyosaki: “Knowledge is very important but what is more amazing is imagination.”

Anti-establishment bar aims to challenge conformity in Braamfontein

Clashing colour pallets, unconventional paintings and purposeful misspellings on the wall are a few of the things that catch your eye when you enter Anti-Est.

Braamfontein’s newest hotspot, located on the trendy Juta Street, aims to enforce the concepts of ‘unlearning’, free thinking and originality.

GIRL ON TOP:  Manager, Roxanne Reid  Photo: Palesa Tshandu

GIRL ON TOP: Manager, Roxanne Read says Anti-Est is more than a bar, it is a movement. Photo: Palesa Tshandu

Manager Roxanne Read said the establishment intends on challenging conformity by turning the lounge/bar into a place “where young artists can help challenge the culture of googling and encourage society to be accustomed to asking relevant questions and to move away from the norm.”

The bar has set the trend by creating rectangular shaped pizzas that are enveloped in unconventional packaging printed in eccentric statements that “fit the concept” of non-conformity.

A fresh range of cocktails and ‘uncommercial’ music created solely for the enjoyment of its audience is the way in which Anti entertains its customers every Wednesday to Saturday.

Read said the Neighbourgoods Market hosts more than 6000 people every Saturday and Anti benefits from this foot traffic, allowing the establishment to showcase its space and ensuring that  Joburgers participate in its movement.

MIXOLOGIST: A barman gets your drinks ready while you soak in cool jazzy tunes.   Photo: Percy Matshoba

MIXOLOGIST: A barman gets your drinks ready while you soak in cool jazzy tunes. Photo: Palesa Tshandu

Anti is owned by four people: Nathan Reddy, Paul Shafer, Adam Levy and David Cohen, who, as a collective aim to eradicate the conventional thinking in society.

“At the end of the day we want to push people’s buttons, but at the same time allow them to demonstrate their crazy ideas sing this space as a platform,” said Read.


Wits’ res tuck shop entreprenuer

Shweet entrepreneur: JT guarding his future's investment

YOUNG people, especially graduates, are continuously encouraged by government to pursue entrepreneurial options to curb the high unemployment figures.

Witsie Tshepiso Justice Siane, or “JT” as he is popularly known, has his sights set on becoming his own boss right here on campus. Siane, a 3rd year BCom finance student, owns and runs the tuckshops at Barnato and Jubilee Hall residences.

He says he identified the opportunity of running the tuck shop in Barnato after he moved in and was unimpressed with the poor service the tuck shop offered. “I enquired with the house committee on how I could go about running the tuck shop and they told me to prepare a proposal, and they would decide on who gets the tender to run the tuck shop.”

JT`s tuck-shop acquisitions have not been without controversy. He put in a proposal to acquire the David Webster Hall tuck shop, and got the tender for it. On the day he was unpacking his stock into the Webster tuck shop, three house committee members told him they did not want a Barnato person running their tuck shop. “I didn`t open the tuck shop that day as I waited for the Webster house committee to resolve their problems,” he says.

He said that during the tuck-shop dispute, his car tyres were slashed twice a week for two weeks and he believes it was done by people who did not want him near the Webster tuck shop, which was eventually handed to someone else.

He remains unfazed by the incident and acknowledges that businesses are competitive, even at Wits. “If your business is making money, competitors will arise, so be able to adapt and don`t get comfortable.

The average 3rd year Witsie aims to work for a big corporation but JT says he chose to go on his own after he realised that he could make more money working for himself than for someone else. “I was at the graduate presentation last year where the largest salary offer was R17 500, and I asked myself how much more would I be making for that company.”

This young man has his future mapped out and is working hard to ensure that he builds his business empire.