With no more than R5,000 in hand, Nic Haralambous founded his bespoke sock empire, Nic Harry, selling 800 pairs in just 10 days.
“I wanted to shut up the people who say it’s too difficult to start a business in South Africa,” Haralambous says in an interview with Entrepreneur Magazine South Africa.
With a bit of creativity and grit, it is possible to bootstrap your way to a successful business, and there are a number of brave entrepreneurs, both locally and globally who prove this; following in the footsteps of giants such as Richard Maponya and Herman Mashaba who started their empires with virtually no money.
Is it possible to start a business with less than R10K? These 6 entrepreneurs did – here are quotes about their hows and whys.
Business: Nic Harry
Total Startup Capital: R5,000
“With [Nic Harry], I wanted to prove to South Africans that you can spend a very little amount of capital and start something that is worth something.”
Nic Haralambous started his sock company Nic Harry from his bedroom with only R5,000, yet he turned a small profit after a month, according to Tech Central.
Business: Orgella Media
Total Startup Capital: R 7,000
“You have to invest in your dream before anyone else does. Once investors see you’re willing to risk everything, they start believing in you. Struggling to find financial support taught me independence – and persistence when it felt like no-one would back me.”
Allegro Dinkwanyane founded her public relations startup while studying journalism at UJ, at the age of 21 with zero cash. Unfazed by the challenge, she turned to her grind and eventually had hustled R7,000 to start the business, which has now grown into a holding company for seven other companies, she says in an interview with Cosmopolitan magazine.
Business: 1000 Beautiful Bracelets
Total Startup Capital: R1,000
“I thought somebody has to show them how to do it and I was that someone. I knew how to start a business with hardly any money so this was a personal challenge I took upon myself.”
Entrepreneur Valerie Pole started 1000 Beautiful Bracelets from a R1,000 she won from 702/CapeTalk presenter Bruce Whitfield in an entrepreneurship competition on The Money Show.
MPUMELELO ‘FRYPAN’ MFULA
Total Startup Capital: R2,000
“There are a great number of challenges I may not even know of, but with what I have experienced, a lot of us want to start too big and that requires great resources that we either do not conveniently have access to or have the adequate skills to raise. I recommend that we not shy away from starting small and give ourselves fair time to develop.”
Mpumelelo ‘Frypan’ Mfula, told lifestyle publication 10and5 that he started his online street wear store RHTC, with just R2,000 he was left with from a commercial he was featured in.
Business: Espinaca Innovations
Total Startup Capital: R40
“Back then it was not about profits. I was building the brand, and actually educating people about [healthy eating]. Life is about having something to give in order for you to receive. And what is it that you have? You’ve got the brains, the intellectual capital and that will actually open many doors for you. So the first capital that you need, more than money, is intellectual capital.”
29-year-old Lufefe Nomjana launched his company, Espinaca Innovations, a bakery that produces spinach bread, as well as other spinach-based products like muffins and sandwiches, in 2012 with just R40 in his pocket, according to How We Made It In Africa. He baked his first loaf using a neighbour’s oven after he Googled a few recipes and found spinach bread was both tasty and nutritious.
BOJAN & LIDIJA IVANOVIC
Business: Balkan Burger
Total Startup Capital: R4,700
“Because it wasn’t our intention to become entrepreneurs – we were merely following a hunch while keeping our day jobs – our startup capital was minimal: I had bought a braai for R4,700, and we paid for ingredients and other business expenses with our salaries. It was quite some time before we started gaining traction, so we must have put about six pay cheques into the business. We only started turning a profit after a year at markets.”
The brother and sister team started Balkan Burger, a burger experience with a Serbian twist, on a hunch, with only R5,000 in 2012, according to an article on Standard Bank’s entrepreneurship portal, Bizconnect.