“I kid you not, I knew I was something special when at just six years, I announced in front of my whole family that I was going to be a breadwinner,” chuckles Samuel Moobeng, one of most diverse entrepreneurs in Mamelodi.

His business, Moobeng Trading and Projects Ltd, focuses on providing multiple products and services based on the gaps that exist within his community. “We are based in the underdeveloped part of Mamelodi, a township with working-age people that are desperate for economic opportunity, so my company’s services range from supply chain, consulting and outsourcing to selling meat products, fresh produce and operating a shisanyama. I did not want to limit and rob myself of opportunities, so I cast the net as wide as possible,” says Samuel.

The dream kicked off in late 2017 when Moobeng Trading started operating as a conglomerate (multi-industry) company, offering solutions within a tough economic climate. “The objective of my business is to provide multiple products and services to our community by working with various local service providers to ensure that we create a diverse and vibrant township economy,” he explains.

When the going gets tough
It is difficult enough trying to establish a business in a struggling economy, but it is twice as hard when you do not have any formal business training. “I didn’t get an opportunity to further my studies, so my lack of education becomes apparent in some cases, but I soldier on and try to educate myself as best as I can. Another thing that is a hindrance in the growth of my business is the lack of resources. Sometimes it’s hard to take on projects when you don’t have the finances and certain resources to pull them off. But you know what? I might not have the formal education like some people, but I’m street smart, I’m a hustler and I know what my customers want,” he adds.

Manifesting thoughts
Samuel was very young when his father died and growing up in what he calls a ‘poorly functioning family’, he allowed himself to be raised by the streets. “In primary school, I started working for street vendors at the taxi rank and as a teenager, I became a barber and also sold beverages as a means of survival. After I matriculated, I started a small business selling Mala mogodu (tripe) on a bicycle. A couple of years later, my business has grown into what it is today: a successful shisanyama,” he adds.

The effects of Covid-19
“Covid had both a negative and a positive impact on our business; negative in the sense that a lot of people lost their jobs, resulting in the loss of income, which means they can’t afford our products and services,” says Samuel.

On the up side, Samuel says that the pandemic required him to find innovative ways to run his business and with each crisis, he says, new opportunities are born.

During the pandemic, Samuel was introduced to the Nedbank-funded Ranyaka Building Business programme, which gave him access to business mentors, tools to grow his business, a stipend to assist him to stay afloat and investment in his business during this difficult time. “The programme allowed us to interact with other entrepreneurs who challenged and inspired us to do more with our business. The mentors gave great advice and they are still invested in us even after the programme has ended,” he says.

What does the future look like?
“I want to educate myself on business management, market behaviour, and financial strategies that will help me generate enough profit to sustain my business. One of my short-term goals involved adding fresh produce to my line of services, but unfortunately, there was a break-in and all our equipment was stolen, which set our plans back by at least a few months while we pick up the pieces,” explains Samuel. He says one of the challenges is generating enough income to buy new equipment.

His long-term goals include finding innovative ways to reach his customers and developing soft skills that will help him run his business effectively.

To young entrepreneurs, Samuel says: “Never give yourself an excuse for mediocrity and failure!”

Images by Devin Lester Photography

Mamelodi is one of 13 communities in 8 provinces across South Africa that is part of the Nedbank Proud of my Town programme, implemented by urban planning social enterprise, Ranyaka Community  Transformation. Building Business is one of ten programmes that forms part of the Proud of my Town initiative.