Khululekani (whose name means “Be Free”) never had life easy – coming from a life infested with crime and substance abuse. However, he decided to clean up his act and today is the owner of a successful business. We interviewed Khulah (as he is affectionately known) about his journey, challenges and successes.
From a challenging upbringing to a successful entrepreneur – Can you tell us more about your background and your journey leading up to now?
My journey hasn’t been unique; it is an “ordinary” life of a boy who grew up in a township infested with crime and substance abuse. I eventually increased the statistics when I also partook in this risky behaviour.
At school I was very bright but, owing to the drugs and gang-related violence, my academic performance started deteriorating – I wasted two years of my academic career. However, that was not the end of the road. I dusted myself off and continued, even though I felt embarrassed being in a class with children who were younger than I was. Nonetheless, I persisted and passed Grade 12.
There was no money for me to go study, so I took a gap year and later got a job. I worked for a year and then resigned to further my studies. I enrolled for a BA degree at the University of the Western Cape, majoring in political science, ethics and history.
In my third year I got introduced to an environmental approach called teleology, which denotes that nature possesses its own purpose; it has its inherent intrinsic worth. Thus, it should be treated as such. Since then my environmentalism light bulb was switched on. I had always wanted to do something that has a positive impact on people and the environment, so I founded Nurturer – locally produced, cruelty-free, natural products for personal, home and office care.
Where did the idea for your startup, Nurturer, come from?
I’ve always been fascinated with cleanliness, so much so that my friends used to tease me and call me a “clean freak”. I knew that developing a business out of something that you are passionate about will not just bring you contentment, but will sustain you when you do not have the energy. It becomes like fuel in a car, giving you endurance and stamina.
How does your business model work?
We are a direct selling company like Avon, Tupperware, etc. With this model we seek to combat financial instability. People can become Nurturers (agents) while they work. However, we are also visible in health stores and we supply cleaning companies, hotels and B&Bs.
What have been some of your biggest challenges?
I have had quite a few. The vision of the company is to make natural/eco- friendly products accessible and affordable, even to the less fortunate. However, the message is not received easily. With 54% of the population having not completed an adequate level of education, illiteracy impedes the process. And so, we educate our people on issues of environmental sustainability.
What have been some of your greatest successes?
Starting this business has been my dream since 2013. To see it come to fruition is mind-boggling.
Greates lesson(s) you’ve learned so far?
I have learnt that life is full of possibilities when you know who you are. What you can achieve is a reflection of being in sync with your purpose and, ultimately, your destiny.
Do you have any advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs?
In all honesty, this life is not for the faint-hearted. You need more than courage. Courage is good enough for you to start. Passion and endurance is what will sustain you when you are stagnant and despondent. The world awaits for people who will bring solutions, and that person is you.