Leah Shone / 22 April 2014
Twenty-three-year-old Ilembe Chamber of Commerce Entrepreneur competition winner Sphesihle Gumede believes focus is the one thing you need to make a true success of your dreams. And he is dreaming big.
Ambitious, grateful and humble, Groutville-based Sphe has turned his small carpentry business into a successful cupboard installation enterprise and one day he dreams of turning it into an international franchise.
Sphe, who entered and won the Ilembe Chamber of Commerce Entrepreneur competition at the end of last year, attributes his success to the fact that he is putting into practice the training and mentoring he has received thus far.
The competition, now in its fourth year, offers prizes to the value of R500 000 and is sponsored by ACSA, the North Coast Courier, Enterprise Ilembe, and the provincial Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDT).
Having grown up in Stanger, Sphe says there was no money for him to study further once he finished high school. Everything he learned about the carpentry trade he learnt while working for his uncle, before he passed away in 2008. Sphe then took over the business and grew it slowly over the next few years. When he saw the entry forms for the Entrepreneur competition at The Ballito Lifestyle Centre last year, Sphe decided to give it a go.
He and 29 other semi-finalists went through an eight-week mentoring and training course where they were taught the ins and outs of running a business. After being cut down to the top 10 they went through another four weeks of training and Sphe was announced the winner in October.
His prize included R25 000 towards his business, an on-going mentorship programme, advertising in the North Coast Courier newspaper and a trip to the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry convention in Johanesburg where he attended a gala dinner with the president Jacob Zuma – a big highlight for Sphe!
Sphe says much of his clientele fall into the middle-income bracket and he believes there is a lot of room for growth here. He is currently working on jobs at the Umhlali Country Club and says the value of his business has grown dramatically over the past 6 months.
Offering fully fitted kitchen, wardrobes and bathroom cupboards, Sphe says he thrives on being constantly challenged to improve his quality and service.
“I love walking into a space and coming up with ideas and suggestions. I am always challenging myself to do better.“
When he’s not at work Sphe says he spends almost every waking hour at his church, the Life Renewal Centre in Groutville where he says he is inspired to do better in every aspect of his life. Asked what advice he has for aspiring business owners, Sphe says, “So many people have ideas but they give up along the way because they don’t have money. I started with nothing. I believe that if you have a dream you have to believe in yourself. You need to focus and remember that knowledge is power. I am using the knowledge that I receive from my mentor to move forward.”
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Courtesy of Get It magazine