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“Not everyone who inherits a business can make a success of it”, these are the words of Hlogi Makau, the owner of Caprivi Lounge in Tembisa.
You may have seen Makau in one of the Hansa Dreamers adverts which celebrate entrepreneurship but his journey began way before that, in 2006 to be precise.
Hlogi Makau was studying towards becoming a chartered accountant whilst working for a top accounting firm when a death occurred in the family, changing his career path completely.
“I lost my father to cancer, and as the only son in the family, the responsibility fell on me to keep his business going,” Makau says.
Under the leadership of his father, Caprivi was a popular Jazz bar where friends would gather to listen to good music while having drinks, but Hlogi had bigger plans for the joint.
“I saw how people were driving out of the township to hang out at places like Newscafe in the surburbs and this made me realize that there was a gap in the market.”
“I wanted to bring an element of sophistication to the place, to bring town to the townships.”
This is when Makau decided to redesign the establishment and add a few other elements to the customer experience such as live events, comedy and poetry nights as well a ‘shisa nyama’.
The changes proved popular with customers who started flocking in from different areas in Joburg, making Caprivi one of the city’s most loved township hang out joints.
Although Makau admits that he was fortunate to inherit the business from his father, he believes that his hard work and determination are what made it the booming establishment it is today.
“You come across a lot of challenges, not everyone who inherits a business can make a success of it”, he says.
Some of the challenges he met along the way included a lack of qualified and skilled staff.
“Businesses in the townships have a problem attracting talent, so one has to hire unskilled workers which means you have to provide extra training.”
“Another problem is having to compete with major corporates who run on bigger budgets, he adds.
When it comes to tips for those who wish to follow in his footsteps, Hlogi advises that one should find something that they are passionate about and grow it into something profitable.
“Put passion before profit,” he says. Identify your specialty and invest in that.”
“Don’t focus too much on the money at first; money is the handshake you get for good work.”