Luvuyo Rani's star in ascendancy

Township techie soars

Luvuyo Rani outside his Internet Cafe in Khayelitsha


As a pioneering township entrepreneur, Luvuyo Rani has managed to overcome adversity and find a spot near the top. He wants his company up there now, so he’s throwing down a rope.


Township entrepreneurs have it hard; it is more difficult in all respects when you are operating on the periphery, far from all the information and support a start-up needs. These entrepreneurs find themselves at the poker table with no strong cards in hand, willing to play but almost certain to fold. Luvuyo Rani knows all about it. He has been there, played right, and came out on top. Now he is teaching others to turn adversity into success.


Eight years ago, after leaving his teaching career in Khayelitsha, Rani started selling refurbished computers out of the boot of his car. At first, without any kind of funding, it was slim pickings until he had an idea.


“There was this one group of teachers that desperately wanted computers but individually they could not afford them,” he says. “I struggled with this problem because I wanted to be able to give them the computers, but I could not afford to just give them away for nothing. And then it hit me – stokvel.”


Stokvels are basically money saving clubs – on an invitation only basis. Members of the club contribute a predetermined amount of money to a central fund every month, for example. And every month one of the members receives the money in the fund. So, if there are twelve people in the stokvel, each paying R1 000 into the fund every month, each month of the year one person is paid out R12 000.


According to some studies, billions of rands are rotated through stokvels across South Africa, as nearly half of the country’s black population is part of these community credit unions. Apparently, this practice of rotating savings dates back to “stock fairs” practiced by English settlers in the 19th century Eastern Cape. Rani saw an opportunity with this well-ingrained cultural practice.


By getting the group of teachers to consider stokvel as a means to pool their resources, Rani had, at the end of six months, installed a computer in each of their homes.

“That felt good,” he says. “And after a while I went to visit these teachers to see how they were doing with their new computers, and to my surprise, the computers were gathering dust.”


Rani realised that the problem was more than just lack of funds. The teachers had no computer skills and no access to the Internet. This is when he started the business he runs today.


Rani’s idea was to give people in Khayelitsha access to the Internet and teach them how to use computers as well as how to access the information stored on the web.




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