Raymond Kahmbule, a 27 year old from Pietermaritzburg, left his company after working with them for six years to try and make something of his life. Unhappy and unfulfilled in his job, he decided to start this new journey in Johannesburg, where his brothers and sisters already lived.
Raymond’s brothers were running a tuck shop in a settlement called Zevenfontein, situated outside Fourways in Johannesburg. Upon his first visit to the township, Raymond described it as a developing settlement with huge potential for both new and existing businesses. Noticing that there were no public phone services offered in the area, Raymond went straight to the Carlton Centre and purchased his first Onecell public phone. His brother insisted that he position the phone next to the tuck shop, because the shop was highly frequented and customers were yearning for the convenience of a public phone service. Raymond started to work from the tuck shop, and, as his brother predicted, the phone business was an instant success.
||It was exciting to see this business working and bringing good profit, because it meant that I was making positive strides in my life.
After a few months, Raymond had made enough profit to purchase another Onecell public phone. This strategic business decision saw him breaking away from his brother's business to setup his own tuck shop in the area closer to his home. Business began to boom and Raymond had to hire assistants to help him run the phone business while he attended to the shop.
Raymond says that since becoming a Onecell business owner, he has not even considered looking for another job. "Competitors are heavily present, but it doesn't make a difference, because I will always be the first person to have ever operated a Onecell public phone in that area, something which I am very proud of!"
Zolani Jevu of Orlando West, Soweto, always wanted to run his own successful business, but realized that in order to do so, he would have to improve his business skills and find the strength and courage to manage a profitable enterprise. Still employed at the time, Zolani first started a business of landline public phones, but encountering problems with fraud, he decided to trade with public cellular phones, which he was told were a safer bet. He bought the first phone he saw in his newspaper and continued trading from the same location. However, the phone soon began giving him problems. It needed regular repairs and its profit margin was very low. Once again, Zolani's business was in trouble.
Still believing in his dream, Zolani took a risk and borrowed money from the bank to save his business. He went out in search of a public phone that was both affordable and afforded high profit margins. During his search, he came across Onecell Community Phones, and, after talking to one of their consultants, decided that this was the phone for him. "I remember thinking that my problems were about to be solved", recounts Zolani. "I bought a Onecell phone and immediately changed my trading spot. In my new spot, I included stock of cakes, sweets, cigarettes and snacks."
||The response I received was incredible. Customers came in droves and I began to make real profit.
"I found myself with cash in hand, which I started to use to repay my bank loan. The positive business response also gave me the courage to start renovating my house", says Zolani.
His next goal was to expand his business. So, a few months later, he bought another Onecell phone. Zolani says he is always on the lookout for potential trading spots, and plans to own as many Onecell public phones as he can afford. Having already renovated his home, Zolani has recently started a transportation business.
Aspirant entrepreneur, Andries Mabuza, has always known that building a successful business requires commitment, sacrifice and tireless work. Andries currently operates a public phone business outside a block of student flats in Pretoria, in which he lives and works as a security guard. During his stay in the block, Andries could not help but notice the constant buzz of student activity. It was this daily observation that led him to the idea of running a telephone business.
"Having no idea of where to start with this business", comments Andries, "I went around asking other vendors how they used their phones. Then a business partner who was helping with the investigation told me about the affordability of Onecell public phones and their high profit return." After receiving their bonuses, Andries and his partner invested some of their money in a single Onecell phone, and upon setting it up in their current location, it became an instant hit with the students. He explains: "There are about three schools within 300m from the phone and the building, which most students stay in, so most of my customers are made up of these students. They come throughout the day and I trade until well past sunset."
Due to this constant flow of student activity, Andries' business hours are from 06h30 to 20h00, and, after completing a night shift as security guard of the block, he sometimes gets only three hours sleep before returning to his phone stall. He explains: "It's tough going on like this, 'cause I sacrifice my sleep, but my life has changed from what it used to be. I'm now able to pay my accounts and buy my groceries, and part of my salary helps my brother with his education. The rest is invested at the bank." Andries believes that only dedication and hard work will bring his dreams to life, and, as a result of his current success, he soon plans to open and run a Onecell Community Shop.
Lucas Malaji from Moletji in Limpopo says he has been driven to his current success by a simple principle in life – "give as much as you'd like to get". Lucas has made it his goal to uphold his family's name by helping his community to improve its living conditions.
As the eldest of four brothers, Lucas left his hometown in Limpopo in search of better options. He moved in with his younger brother, Tshepo, who was living in Mamelodi, Pretoria. "When I arrived, it was very difficult. I survived on all kinds of jobs and even became active in some community projects."
With the help of his brother, Lucas established a small spaza shop situated in front of Pienaarspoort station. Since the area he traded from had heavy foot traffic, Lucas was confident that he could grow his business. Public phones were the first option to spring to mind. It proved a difficult task to choose a phone company, but finally he agreed with Tshepo to approach Onecell, whose name they saw on a newspaper advert. "As Tshepo had a better understanding of paperwork, he went to buy the phone last year, and came back and taught me how to use it."
||Not only was it easy to use, but the customers loved it too.
As word got around of his phone business, Lucas found himself having to lengthen his trading hours. In order for customers to use his phone before the first train left, he had to get up as early as 03:30am. The last train of the day arrived at about 09:30pm, which became his new closing time.
"The changes to my working hours brought a lot of business for me, as my customers grew in loyalty. I was now making a sizeable profit and my family in Limpopo also benefited. In the past they had to walk a long distance to fetch water, but since I installed water pipes in the yard, this is no longer a problem." Not only has Lucas been able to give back to his community and family, but he is also establishing another Pienaarspoort spaza for which he and his brother have already bought a second Onecell phone.
Ma Jerry, a 62 year old pensioner from Vincent Road in Meadowlands, is enjoying a higher quality of life because of her decision to invest in a public phone business. This "go-getter" of a business lady has only fond memories of the day she saw the Onecell advertisement in the local newspaper.
Having taken over her late brother's public phone business, Ma Jerry ran into trouble when the phone used by her brother was repossessed. She turned to Onecell to save her recently inherited business.
||With Onecell, once you have bought the phone, it is yours and will never be taken away.
The busy location of her stall as well as her passion for working with people has contributed to Ma Jerry's success, and, in an effort to provide her customers with a one-stop convenience shop, her outlet now offers a range of spaza goods. The fact that her stall stays open until late not only allows for added convenience, but also makes her customers feel important.
Today, Ma Jerry owns two Onecell phones and is planning to open another public phone outlet in Bram Fischer Drive. Due to her sizeable airtime purchases, Onecell has also recently awarded her a free public phone. Her advice to other would-be public phone owners is never to lose hope. "The gift of running your own business is the independence it gives you as a person, because now I do not have to worry my children for anything that I need."