Anele Siyotula, 22, started cleaning students’ sneakers for an income while in UCT res four years ago, and since then, his efforts have bloomed into a full-time business.
Siyotula, a mathematics BSc honours student, now runs his business, 1Stop Tekkie Wash, a team of three, from premises in Mowbray, but it has its roots in the Leo Marquard Hall where he was in residence in 2018 when he started cleaning five to ten sneakers a day.
“When I started cleaning the sneakers, I could only sleep three hours per night because it was so demanding with school work on the side,” he said.
“I ended up getting a business partner, Onke Yeye, to assist me in growing the business. Students don’t have much time to clean their shoes, but they still want to look cool, so it made sense to me to fill the gap in the market and start 1Stop Tekkie Wash.”
Mr Yeye said: “1Stop Tekkie Wash has grown so much from the previous years. When I came in to work with Anele on this, the business was offering basic services, so we began working on new ideas during the strict level-5 lockdown, and we had a dream of 1Stop being the Amazon of laundry services.”
Mr Siyotula opened his Mowbray shop in November last year, but he still operates on campus.
He said he had soon realised that his business would have to offer other services if it was to thrive.
“The pandemic reinforced my business philosophy, which is not to put all your eggs in one basket. It challenged me to think outside the box and to keep the business afloat. We first added shoe renovations, then shoe dyeing and then later customisations. This helped us to gain traction and gain more customers,” he said.
They explored online marketing to connect with existing clients and attract new ones, and the business also offers a collect-and-deliver service.
“Entrepreneurship is one potential solution to end joblessness,” Mr Siyotula said. “As entrepreneurs, we can help to solve one of the biggest problems in this country by simply creating employment. It’s one way of breaking the cycle and helping people out of poverty.”