gaming zone scoops top prize

Xolile Bhengu

Xolile Bhengu

A 32-year-old Soweto entrepreneur, who started his business 13 months ago with the help of friends and family, yesterday won R100000 from Virgin boss Richard Branson.

Musa Maphongwane, co-owner of Gaming Zone, won the Soweto Entrepreneur Business Plan Competition sponsored by Virgin Mobile and presented by Branson at his Johannesburg-based Branson School of Entrepreneurship.

Maphongwane beat over 50 entrants who had to come up with their own innovative ideas.

Gaming Zone gives the children of Soweto access to expensive gaming consoles such as Playstation.

Maphongwane said: "Many children would love to own a game station. I recognised a gap for a digital entertainment centre for children whose parents couldn't afford to buy them these games."

The children pay R1 to play a game for 10 minutes and R10 buys them an hour of play.

Maphongwane and his partner Amos Mtsolongo own three entertainment centres, which are all housed in containers around the township. Four other containers have been franchised.

"I chose to have the game zones to be in containers because unlike a proper structure they can be placed directly where you have your target market, and they are safer because they are not easy to break into," he said.

Maphongwane said the containers have so far created 17 jobs. He said he does not rule out the option of expanding the business outside Johannesburg.

Gaming Zone plans to expand the business to offer DVD and game hiring in addition to the current game playing offer.

Branson said the Gaming Zone represented what he envisioned the Virgin brand to be all about.

Branson's school has trained over 1000 people, and encourages self-owned businesses to create jobs and alleviate poverty.