Entrepreneurial fire burns in Njabulo

Young businessman sees future in farming

By Nerissa Card

Spend a long weekend working to earn some money or enjoy one of South Africa’s best music festivals?

I’m willing to bet that, offered the choice, most 16-year-olds would opt for the latter. Not, however, Howick High School’s Njabulo Andile Mtolo (pictured above).

“I’d rather make money than have fun at Splashy,” he says.

Ironically, Njabulo’s business idea came to him while he was attending the festival a few years back.

Picture: Almos Bechtold/Unsplash

So what is it that he does to grow his bank balance?

He heads to the Spar in Underberg every year to sell 50kg bags of firewood to those heading for the annual music festival.

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“It all started one year when I was at Splashy and noticed there was a shortage of firewood.

“I asked my dad if we could go into the forest on the farm at home and gather wood to sell to people going to the festival. He agreed, so I collected what I needed and set up a stall outside the Spar, like a street vendor,” says Njabulo.

“My main reason for doing it is to save money to buy cows. Since I started two years ago, I have made enough money to buy a cow, which has since had a calf.”

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Sadly, Njabulo’s father passed away recently, but he is determined to follow in his footsteps.

“My dad was a taxi owner and emerging farmer. I would like to be a farmer because there is money in farming and it is a growing industry for black people.

“When I have finished school I want to study agriculture at Cedara,” he says, as he shows me around a vegetable garden he and some of his school friends have planted for one of the school’s house masters.

Money-making ideas

Njabulo’s business ventures don’t stop with firewood, though. He also buys and sells cellphones and, when he is at home in Underberg at weekends with his mom, Mpume, helps his sister, Kuhle, come up with money-making ideas for school projects.

“At the moment she has to raise R600 for an EMS (economic management studies) project, so I am helping her come up with ways to raise the cash.”

It’s not all work for the intrepid youngster, though. In the little spare time he has away from his studies and business interests, he enjoys playing rugby (he is in the U16 team at school) and soccer.

“I don’t like things like gaming. I am more of an outdoors, practical person,” he says.

• This regular column is sponsored by The Midmar Group.

**If you know of any other school kids showing entrepreneurial flair and working to make money, please let us know about it at meanderchronicle@gmail.com