Uniform supplier happy to rethink business model

Shabangu turned to masks, thanks to state agency's help

Happy Shabangu is a serial entrepreneur who has had to realign his business.
Happy Shabangu is a serial entrepreneur who has had to realign his business.
Image: Vukuzenzele

Pretoria-based serial entrepreneur Happy Shabangu has had to make a few adjustments over the years as his business empire grew.

In 2013, Shabangu started Bizrocket Trade and Projects, whose first business was  branding, promotions and supply services.

“We were basically a printing shop,” says the 33-year-old. 

Three years ago, Shabangu ventured into textile industry to produce school uniforms, corporate clothing and embroidery. Things went well until disaster struck with the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

During level 5 of the national lockdown last year, companies like his could not operate because they did not provide essential services. This meant a loss of income for him and his employees.

“We started manufacturing general Personal Protective Equipment, including face masks, so that our business could be allowed to operate,” Shabangu says.

The business was lucky to receive Covid-19 relief funds worth R80,000 from the Small Enterprise Finance Agency. The money bought more sewing machines to meet the increased demand for cloth face masks.

During the lockdown, the demand for school uniforms went down because the school calendar was interrupted. The business was thrown another lifeline when the department of small business development created a database of face mask suppliers across the country.

“We made it to the list and were able to get business from various clients. In some instances, we had to outsource other products like sanitisers for our clients. We stayed afloat as a business,” Shabangu says.

The biggest order the business has received has been for the manufacture of 44,000 face masks for Transnet, which the business recently completed.

The company has achieved great strides with only five permanent employees. Shabangu has proven that he’s a born entrepreneur, someone who is unfazed by challenges.

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