Siyabulela Mandla Carwash business branches into string of entities
When Siyabulela Mandla launched his carwash business in 2012, little did he know that he would soon make a clean sweep of business development competitions and ultimately soak up a number of business enterprises in Port Elizabeth’s Motherwell area.
The 34-year-old businessman, whose personal experience of growing up in the township sparked a passion for the growth and development of the township economy, now owns a chain of enterprises, grouped under his flourishing company, 469 Enterprises.
Named after Telkom’s telephone prefix code for Motherwell, 469, the company’s unique business model for the carwash business in NU3 in Motherwell came out tops in the South African Breweries (SAB) KickStart competition, which earned Mandla a much-needed cash injection in 2012 .
He later won another competition – the Seda Small Business Stars competition – which, according to the energetic entrepreneur, gave him invaluable exposure.
“I see myself as a township economy fanatic and, having grown up in Motherwell, I have seen the disadvantages and am aware of the social ills in the township,” Mandla said.
“But that’s when the question of what contribution I could personally make to creating jobs and getting the youth off the streets arose.”
The company now comprises entities which include 469 Lifestyle and Property, 469 Bar and Lounge, a 469 butchery which includes a braai area, 469 Media and Events, and a transport offering – all of which serve the Motherwell area.
Mandla also recently made headlines after a partnership with Dockside Brewery saw the birth of his latest addition to the business, the Kasi Craft Beer.
“The Kasi Craft Beer initially received a negative reaction, with many people saying it would not work as it was not a premium product,” Mandla said.
“However, the response has been humbling with interest being shown by individuals from as far as Mozambique.”
He said his long-term plan was to use the beer as a launchpad for future expansion and growth, with a national distribution arm also being on the cards for 469.
“We are not just trying to start a business where it does not make any business sense; our goal is to bring to the township what people can normally find in sophisticated urban areas,” Mandla said.
“With 469 Lifestyle and Property, which is currently looking at commercial property, we want to build spaces that trigger ideas and leave people inspired rather than promote consumerism.”
The enterprise employs 25 people permanently, while it also creates some casual jobs when required for the company’s social events.
While his staff deals primarily with logistics and ensuring the enterprise functions like a well-oiled machine, Mandla handles the company’s administration, strategy, innovation and development drives.
He said while his business journey – which he believes has delivered futuristic ideas – has been educational, “like any business, 469 has encountered challenges of its own”.
“The challenges that have come with this business have included access to funds, a lack of understanding of the township business model and not being taken seriously.”
He advised aspiring entrepreneurs to start businesses based on things they were passionate about while continuing to educate themselves in both formal and informal business models.
Mandla, who highlighted the value of education, holds a master’s degree in business administration from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.