Young online trader scoops top prize

Lamla Gqolodashe, of Motherwell, is Gumtree South Africa’s Gumtrepreneur competition winner
Picture: Werner Hills

‘Gumtrepreneur’ boost for PE woman

When Lamla Gqolodashe bought a second-hand wardrobe for R500 in October and sold it for R1 000 on the same day, she knew she was onto a good thing.

Barely six months later, the 21year-old entrepreneur from Motherwell in Port Elizabeth has been named online trading platform Gumtree’s very first Gumtrepreneur competition winner – scooping a business booster pack and a R50 000 cash prize for her novel online and social media trading strategy.

That the young business star now has a registered small business, Oomatahole (“Young stars” in isiXhosa), which focuses on the hiring of tents, stoves, chairs and jumping castles, is relatively impressive – but she also operates and manages it all from her cellphone.

This is because the core of her company’s business model involves purchasing goods on Gumtree and then reselling the same items, some of which she has had repaired, on the same online platform or on social media sites like Facebook.

“After I bought the wardrobe, I bought a fridge for R600 and resold it for R1 500. It has just grown from there,” Gqolodashe said yesterday.

“I don’t have a laptop or any other computer, I just run the business on my phone.”

However, and since the business has grown exponentially, Gqolodashe now employs two people directly, while using her friends to effect the necessary repairs to the items she has bought for resale.

“I used to stay with my family and now I have my own place,” she said.

“I use a garage for the storage of my goods and until now I have been hiring a bakkie to do the general transport and deliveries.

“That is the next thing I need to do to grow the business – get a bakkie of my own, as this will cut out the significant transport costs involved.”

Her next goal is to secure her own store.

“This will allow me to continue with my current business model, but have a place where I can store my goods, while using the premises as a showroom and shop for walk-in trade,” Gqolodashe said.

The resourceful entrepreneur, who has never had a permanent job, but secured her first part-time job on Gumtree, said she also used posters to source her goods from prospective sellers, as well as word of mouth.

“I am very happy how this has worked out and I see plenty of opportunity to grow this business.”

Gumtree, which hailed Gqolodashe as a “symbol of an economic revolution”, said the award was directed at encouraging and rewarding those using online spaces to build businesses.

Commenting on the entrepreneurship opportunities offered by the site, Gumtree South Africa’s core business head Claire Cobbledick said: “You can test the market and reach a far broader base of potential customers online without major start-up costs.

“We have seen tens of thousands of entrepreneurs begin in a small, localised way and then rapidly scale up or diversify their offerings.

“It represents a true revolution in the economy.”

She said Gqolodashe was an excellent example of the way that entrepreneurship was changing in South Africa.

Leave a Reply