‘When I was younger, my friend said to me, “People are suffering in the township. What are you going to do after school, Themba?”
I replied, “I will not let myself suffer. I will do something. I will be like the gogo that sells vegetables; it’s not much, but at least she is earning something.”
Themba Dlamini started developing his entrepreneurial skills from a young age. His dad was the breadwinner of the house and so, when he passed on, there was very little money to support the family of five. His job experience ranged from selling packets of soup and oranges to working for an air-conditioning company. In his Matric year, money at home got really tight, and Themba was offered a job as a barman at the ICC. Although his teacher tried to persuade him to finish his studies, young Themba knew that his first priority was making sure that there was food on the table for his family.
Because of the economic problems that the country was going through at the time, he lost his job as a barman and it was back to square one. So, he decided to pursue his initial dream of being an entrepreneur and opened up his own car wash in KwaDabeka – the community he had grown up in.
“It was hard. I didn’t have the capital to start the business. I only had water and a square piece of land. But I tried anyway. I would maybe get to wash one car a day and then I would get happy because I was earning R30 from that one car”
It was around this time that Themba heard about CAST’s Paradigm Shift course from his pastor at KwaDabeka Baptist Church. Dennis De Chalain was Themba’s mentor, and he helped to teach and guide Themba as to how to effectively run his car wash. Through Paradigm Shift, Themba was given a loan of R1500, which helped him to buy a proper car port. Slowly, his business started growing. Within a year, it was running effectively, and people were even coming to get their cars washed on the rainy days.
But 27 year old Themba still dreams of a bigger future for his car wash.
“I want it to be a Shisinyama. For there to be a place where people can hang out, eat food and socialise while their cars are being washed. Maybe even have a big flat screen television so that my customers can watch sports”
At Paradigm Shift, Themba learnt a lot about customers and running a business, but he maintains that one of the biggest lessons he took away with him is that God and business go hand in hand.
“Don’t plan by yourself; put God into your plans cause He is the one that’s going to make it happen for you”
From the boy who sold packets of soup, to the man who never stops dreaming, Themba Dlamini is an inspiration to all of us who just give up when things get a little tough.
“It was not an easy journey. I never had the freedom to do whatever I wanted. But now things are happening and God has been a part of all of it”.