Youth in Business, a flagship programme hosted by the Khayelitsha Bandwidth Barn, is home to some of the most innovative and creative entrepreneurs in Cape Town.
An example of such a creative venture is Mr Loafty Entertainment, a local events company that aims to promote local clothing brands and aspiring models. It was founded in 2018 by Siyabulela Lengisi, an entrepreneur with a deep love for fashion.
His idea for the business came to Siyabulela years ago when he was interning at the District Six Museum as a Young Community Historian.
“Our primary work was to host exhibitions in local community libraries where we shared real stories of ex-residents of District Six and other communities that were forcefully removed from the areas now called suburbs,” explains Siyabulela. “On those exhibitions, we always got positive feedback from residents as it reminded them about the origins of our townships. And I felt the need to share the stories behind local brands through fashion shows since I already have the experience in staging events.
The young entrepreneur shares that by then, he’d already been into business as his love for entrepreneurship began when he was much younger.
“I got into the business at an early age. I used to draw graphs and cartoons in grade 3 for my fellow classmates. My love for business grew as I began to study commerce in high school. When I was in grade 10, I was selling paraffin at home in winter and shaving people’s heads on weekends with the help of my older brother.
“After high school, I ran my own PlayStation game shop as I had 2 consoles. From 2009 until 2016 I was a salesperson for a repairman who fixes computers and phones. My duty was bringing new customers and selling some of the fixed items. This is how I got into business.”
Since then, he’s had many highlights with Mr Loafty Entertainment.
“My business started operating on the 19th of June in 2019 because that month was my last month studying at the Raymond Ackerman Academy. My highlight would be the first show we hosted in Philippi Village. I was also a judge at models’ competition last year in October named Fierce Cape Town. Not forgetting the collaboration we had with 2 local models who needed my expertise in hosting a Fashion Show. I planned the event and used my models and they came with designers and one of them, Andilele Bobotyana, designer of Local Target showcased at the Khayelitsha Fashion Week.
However, the journey has not been without its fair share of challenges.
“One of them is people not attending your event even though they promised – that goes for attendees, models and designers. The other is having to change people’s perception about local brands as they believe local brands are not quality brands so they rather pay large amounts of cash to the international brands than supporting a local brother or sister.
“COVID-19 has affected my daily routine as I now have to be at home and communicate with models and designers via live chats, and I still have to teach some of my clients how to use the Zoom App.
“We also had to change the dates we’d set for the fashion shows this year, the classes we had to host for models and the photoshoots we planned. All this postponement means no money coming in for the business. Even now most people don’t want to transfer cash for online classes but at least now the lockdown is not that bad, we might actually make some money.”
Despite these setbacks, the young entrepreneur shares that, it’s with this experience that he hopes to take Mr Loafty Entertainment to new heights.
“In the next 20 years, we want to be known all over the world for doing a marvellous job. My 10-year plan is to have 8 stores that will be selling local brands and be based in local communities. I call these businesses “Edgars waseKasi” or Community Edgars. The 5-year plan is to have 2 stores – 1 in Nyanga and the other in Gugulethu. My 3-year plan is to place 100 local models in good agencies that will promote them in the fashion industry and become well-known models. My 1-year plan is to have 5 models mentoring aspiring models so they can understand the industry at an early stage.”