'The internet guy' Zifungo still sees future as bright

Bilal Zifungo, left, and technician Simon musekiwa./SUPPLIED
Bilal Zifungo, left, and technician Simon musekiwa./SUPPLIED

Bilal Zifungo is best known as "the internet guy".

The 32-year-old entrepreneur from Giyani, Limpopo, has made it his mission to make internet connections in rural areas such as his village faster and more reliable.

Zifungo's company, CoalHub, is a 100% black-owned telecommunication services provider offering solutions in the broadband ICT sector.

"After obtaining my qualifications in IT from the Tshwane University of Technology in 2014, I kick-started my career at Huawei and Nokia," he said.

"That [was] followed by promotion after promotion. I then realised that I have managed to acquire skills that will enable me to run my own company."

He said he worked two-and-a-half years at Huawei and two years at Nokia.

Zifungo, who has been operating his company full-time for just over a year, has 15 employees. "We have three skilled technicians and two team leaders who are spearheading our projects.

"We are aiming to offer skills and development training to 10 graduates over a period of 24 months and offer them employment in our company," he said.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, his biggest challenge was keeping talent within his company. "As an employer, you are constantly faced with a challenge of employees moving from one company to another.

"This affects production as the recruitment and training process of a new employee requires time and money."

The coronavirus pandemic has hit his business hard.

During this time, he has secured deals to update WiFi at two schools in the North West but still had to place eight employees on unpaid leave.

"It has not been easy. Everything is very slow, we do not have new projects from our clients, we therefore have been generating less income than ever before.

"We applied for the relief fund offered by the government last month but we still haven't received anything to this day," he said.

However, he is optimistic about the future.

"Our aim is to create more opportunities in the company, employing more people and creating more teams so we can work on more projects.

"We want to invest more in the wireless network, especially in rural areas."

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