Open letter to South Africa’s students‚ universities and government‚ represented by Minister in the .
The ability to find novelty in the familiar and opportunities where others see nothing led the self-made businessman Malope Mojapelo and his wife Michelle Molatlou to start an Internet cafe in Soweto.
Molatlou is a former beauty queen, actress and TV personality.
Their Internet cafe is the first in Soweto. Though still in its infancy, Mojapelo says revenue has grown 26percent every week since March.
Business at Cyberock Internet Cafe in Rockville is booming.
"The business has achieved a 65percent growth in market share and is beginning to gain popularity," says Mojapelo.
How did he get the idea of opening an Internet cafe in Soweto?
"I used to live in Randburg and was used to the cyber lifestyle. On my return to Soweto I realised that there was no business communication centre one could go to.
"I felt frustrated by the absence of these resources and thought that I should do something about it."
Mojapelo saw an opportunity for an Internet cafe in Rockville. He did research and felt there was a viable business opportunity at the location next to The Rock, one of Soweto's top nightspots. He has also secured four other sites for similar Internet cafes in Soweto.
Because of his computer experience he knew exactly how to set up the facility. Start-up costs were low because he needed to acquire only the computers and the Internet connection line. He used savings to launch the business and did not have to borrow start-up funds.
What problems does he face running the business?
"Soweto does not have any accessible IT support systems," he says. "One always has to call providers from out of Soweto and this slows down the business because one has to wait longer if the systems are down."
Procuring consumables can also cause problems because there are no vendors in Soweto.
The community has flocked to the Internet cafe, "and the number of people visiting the shop is increasing", he says.
Internet access is popular, but he says there is a lot more scope as ever more potential clients learn about the cyber world.
Mojapelo attributes Cyberock's success to the right location, next to The Rock and close to the landmark Thokoza Park.
It is also close to other popular attractions in Soweto. Mojapelo strategically sited the business near Mandla Hair Salon, a well-known hair salon that is frequented by celebrities, and Panyaza's Butchery, popular with clients from throughout Gauteng.
All draw upscale visitors to the area who are potential clients for his Internet cafe.
Cyberock attracts sophisticated clients who are familiar with the Internet and e-mail. Many conduct business on the road and the cafe has become their offsite office.
Mojapelo hopes that Internet usage at Cyberock will increase as the cafe gains popularity.
The shop is open seven days a week, from 7am to 7pm Sunday to Thursday and from 7am to 9pm on Friday and Saturday. Services include Internet connections, offsite office facilities, corporate stationery and cellphone consumables. The shop also prints, photocopies, binds and laminates documents.
Mojapelo reinvests profits in his neighbourhood. His corporate social investment includes preparing and printing free burial programmes for the surrounding community.