This word stuck in my mind after the completion of an unscheduled reading session of 228-worded Facebook status shared by a friend on Thursday afternoon. Attached was a picture of a bald-shaven gentleman – donned in a white long sleeve shirt, blue formal jacket and visibly pleased to pose in front of the camera.
His name is Luvuyo Rani. He wrote: “It is a great pleasure and honour being nominated in the Junior Chamber International Top 20 Most influential young persons of the year. Out of the 20 Nominees I am one of the only two in Africa and the only one in South Africa.”
Incredible news! His status brightened up my day. It is a story that worth celebrating and certainly the one to be proud of, as South Africans.
The findings after a quick research about Luyuyo, which includes watching his television interviews on You Tube channel, were incredibly inspiring. This persuaded my decision to submit an interview request to his direction, of which he kindly agreed.
I wanted to learn more about the man from Queenstown, Port Elizabeth: his background, entrepreneurship and JCI Awards. Besides, Mr Rani mentioned that he needs the support to help him bring this award home: “I have never at any point asked any favours, I always believed in doing things for myself and build relationships, but today for the first time in my life I am asking everyone to vote for me to get the opportunity to go and represent the country in Germany. That would be greatest gift in for the last year of my youth.”
Luvuyo deserves our vote. Here is how the interview went and the voting procedure is explained in this interview. Let us vote for Luvuyo Vani.
(Warning: The interview is lengthy but worth reading and sharing. You can also read more about Luvuyo’s company here: http://www.silulo.co.za/)
• Congratulations on your nomination! You must be delighted!
Luvuyo: Thank you. I am humbled.
• Tell us a bit about yourself, family background and how they inspired you?
Luvuyo: I was born in the Eastern Cape in Queenstown, the first of four brothers. My mother was running a tavern and selling liquor and that’s where I learnt to sell and deal with customers. My mother inspired me through her hard work and determination. My father was a male nurse in a mental hospital in Queenstown. He was a rugby player and took pride in all our achievements. He invested in our education but passed away in 1997.
• How would your childhood friends describe the personality of the young Luvuyo?
Luvuyo: They describe the young Luvuyo as a person who was very social, good organiser who showed leadership skills at a young age.
• Share with us some of your best memories of primary and high school days?
Luvuyo: The best in primary was spending time with my friends and playing. My best memories at high school were when I was a ballroom and Latin American dancer.
• What is your business all about and how does it help the community?
Luvuyo: SiluloUlutho Technologies is a one-stop-shop IT Company that provides computer access. We offer computer training, access to internet, printing and IT repair and maintenance service and provide mobile support services.
• Why did you choose to do this particular business?
Luvuyo: When I was still a teacher I noticed that the teachers had a bit of a hard time with computers, and at the time the Department of education was introducing a new curriculum called the Outcomes Based Education, which meant that the teachers had to become equipped with computer knowledge and skills, that is when I started selling computers to them from the back boot of my car, after selling the computers I opened the first internet café with my partners.
• I watched one of your TV interviews and one of the messages that got my attention was when you said: ‘This is your calling’. How did you realise this was your calling?
Luvuyo: My mother used to own a Tavern, which I used to assist in after school. That shaped my entrepreneurship skills from an early life because I used to assist in the selling, which sharpened my sales and customer skills.
When I eventually started Silulo, I realized that it was much deeper. It was something I was born to do, even when I faced so many challenges I strived on because I knew it was my calling. I am even surprised myself at times when I look at the obstacles I have overcome and wonder how I made it happen.
• What challenges have you battled with since the beginning of your business?
Luvuyo: At the beginning of the business the one major challenge was finances. The one way I dealt with that was entering small business competitions like the SAB Kick Start.
One of the challenges we are currently facing is crime in the areas, fortunately Silulo has built a brand that is trusted and protected by the community.
Another challenge is managing the rapid speedy growth of the business, and attracting the best staff to come and work for us.
• The best thing about being an entrepreneur?
Luvuyo: The best thing about being an entrepreneur is being a visionary with big dreams, and being able to do things that no one else can do. The greatest feeling is when you impact and change the lives of different people in the community.
• To be where you are today, what are you most proud of looking back at your journey?
Cape Times/ KPMG Editors Award for Business Excellence
1st Runner Up for Velociti run by CITi
1st Runner up for National SAB Kick Start Award
Runner Africa SMME Awards (Service Business Sector)
Winner to represent SA in USA on a Young Entrepreneurship Program
2nd Runner up for SAB Ultimate Kick start
1 Selected as an Endeavour Global Entrepreneur
Winners of the National Productivity Award
Opening first Silulo centre in the Eastern Cape
Selected to be part of Entrepreneurs Organization
Chosen to be part of the Brand SA Play your part campaign
Featured on Forbes Magazine March issue
• If it was not with the help of these people, your business wouldn’t be where it is today. Who are these people and how did they help you?
Luvuyo: My brother Lonwabo Rani who introduced me to a friend Sigqibo Pangabantu who was more in the technical side of computers and Nandipha Matshoba who is my sister in law joined us a year later; the first staff that believed in the vision when they were only earning R500 a month. The big cooperates such as Mweb, SAB, Vodacom and Microsoft that have contributed in our growth. Higher learning institutions like the University of Stellenbosch Business School, TSIBA, UCT Graduate School of Business, organisations such as Endeavour and Entrepreneurship Organisation (EO)
• What has been the proudest moment of your career as an entrepreneur?
Luvuyo: It is when I realised that 2014 is our 10th year in Business. It made me pause for a bit and reflect so proudly on what we have achieved through our hard work, passion and dedication. The 10 year celebration is testimony to me that anything is possible if you out your mind to it.
• How many employees have you employed so far and the number of students trained by your company?
Luvuyo: We’ve trained more than 20 000 students on computer skills, currently employ 132 full time employees and have 32 IT Centre’s around the Eastern and Western Cape of South Africa.
• How do people get to be nominated?
Luvuyo: JCI runs local organizations all over the world, with the TOYP program that runs annually. Each local organisation then selects their nominees based on each category of the TOYP programme they then send their nominations through to the national office which then gets sent to the international office.
• Out of 20 Nominees, you are one of the two Africans and the one in South Africa – what does this mean to you?
Luvuyo: It is a great honour for me to be chosen as the only one in South Africa, and one of the only two in the whole entire African Continent.
• Are you surprised by the nomination?
Luvuyo: Indeed. At first I took it very lightly as I didn’t realise how prestige the JCI Awards are.
• How do people get to vote?
1. Follow the JCI link www.jci.cc/toypvote
2. 20 nominess will pop up and you will do down to my name
3. Select read more, and go down the biography to the facebook like option
4. And click ‘Like’. Once you like the vote has been casted.
• One of the UK based influential South Africans asked me to let you know that they are voting and she also asked her US Diaspora contacts to vote for you. What would you like to tell your voters abroad?
Luvuyo: I would like to tell them that it really means a whole lot to me to be voted by persons abroad. I am humbled and deeply grateful. Thank You.
• How many awards have you won so far?
Luvuyo: 9 (nine) Awards.
• Assume you win this award, who would you like to thank?
Firstly I would thank God for the blessings that he has given me and every single person that has voted.
• And your message to the youth of South Africa or African continent?
Luvuyo: We need to dream big stating with the smaller steps, work hard loving what we do. Anything is possible when we put our minds to it.