Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Matimba Ngwenya Hello everyone! So I...
So I must admit, this year has been one of the years full of inconsistencies, mainly because I think for the most part of the year I have been walking blindly in terms of where to go with my career. I think a lot of people experience this when they complete their degrees. Everyone expects that when you are done you will instantly and seamlessly transition into a new chapter, working in a dream job, in an amazing company and thanking God for Mondays every week because your job is amazing and all. But the reality of a number of people is that it does not always go according to that plan and I am learning that sometimes this master plan that most of us grew up accustomed to and believing could do with some major alterations. I am learning to adapt to the reality of deviations from the plan. And while my steps towards fully figuring it out are still a work-in-progress, I believe that it is important to be open-minded and to trust God that no matter how much you deviate from your human plan, He will guide you towards the plan that is designed solely for you and it shall be great!
Now if you know a little about my plans, you will know that a major aspect of the career that I would like to venture into is entrepreneurship. Being in Durban which has such a great entrepreneurial drive and spirit has further encouraged me to pursue a path that some may consider to be extremely risky. I am grateful that although this year has been a bit of a weird one, I have stood firm on the fact that this is where I would ultimately love to be. To further encourage my entrepreneurial goals, I have been moving around Durban trying to meet as many people as I can and learn their stories about their entrepreneurial journeys. One of my adventures led me to the Artisan CoffeeWorks. This is a speciality coffee shop with a great vibe and modern feel situated in 8 Morrison which is a budding business hub and social scene that I discussed in this post.
I was very interested to find out more about one of the founding partners of Artisan CoffeeWorks, Matimba Ngwenya who is a jazz loving, salsa dancing serial entrepreneur. Not only is he in the coffee business but he also has a cleaning company, is a brand strategist, property broker and is launching some fashion projects in 2017. Julian and I met him when we had gone to check out 8 Morrison and we were instantly fond of his friendly character!
I wanted to break this interview into some of the key aspects I have found quite common in a number of the entrepreneurs I have spoken to in Durban this year and that I have found very useful to know as I pave my own way.
The first business
A story is not complete unless you have an idea of the history behind it and I thought an idea of Matimba's past business ventures would not be a good way to end the story but would be a good way to start. Many entrepreneurs can testify to having had a first business and for many others this is the business that failed or just stopped running. I can also testify to this. The thing about this vision to be an entrepreneur is that it is not fail safe. You are bound to make a few mistakes here and there and for a lot of people this could lead to their first failed business. I read somewhere once that entrepreneurs should be proud of their failed ventures because from these you learn your most invaluable lessons that with drive and passion can potentially lead to the successful business. Before completing his Engineering degree, Matimba ventured into an entertainment business called Afro-Sikotic Entertainment. He explained that before the company stopped running in 2010, the team at Afro-Sikotic Entertainment "...hosted fashion shows, poetry sessions, managed a jazz band, produced theatre productions and almost launched a fashion line..." While I am not saying Matimba's first venture was not successful and I don't know the history of his first business and the reasons behind its closure, the fact that a business did exist prior to his existing ones is something to draw inspiration from.
It also confirms what so many people say about starting a business in University or even in high school, as in these less risky conditions, you are able to have a head start to your entrepreneurial journey and figure out if this is the route for you. From Matimba's next ventures, it is clear that his first venture was probably a rewarding experience for his future businesses.
The big risk
One thing I have always said is that if you are born to be an entrepreneur, you will never be able to shake off that vision and dream to own your own business no matter how successful you become as an employee! Matimba confirmed this for me. While Matimba completed his degree and pursued a successful career in civil engineering which led him to work on some amazing projects and to also share the expertise with developing engineers as chairman of the South African Institution of Civil Engineering, Young Members Panel, it appears he could not shake off the entrepreneurial bug he had developed through Afro-Sikotic Entertainment.
In 2014, Matimba took the risk and quit his job. He explains that after making this move he "...took a job as a barista at one of South Africa's top cafes (Factory Cafe), to learn about the coffee business and understand the hospitality industry as a whole". I think this is one thing that really stood out for me about this story. It is not often that people take such risks! It is not often that people quit their engineering jobs to make coffee, certainly not here in Africa!!! But he did and that is true indication of passion, creating your own path for success and deviating from society's master plan. Ultimately this risk led him to co-establishing Artisan CoffeeWorks.
I asked him what inspired this venture and he said, " I enjoy connecting with people. After I quit my civil engineering career, I fell in love with the cafe lifestyle. I needed to find a way to really connect with people. Coffee has done just that. Not only do I enjoy drinking it, but the process of preparing a cup and sharing a genuine conversation with someone can go a long way". You certainly can't be in the hospitality business if you don't have a passion for people and Matimba's passion for people and his open-mindedness is what made Julian and I think he would be a great guy to work with for this post and he certainly was. Him and his barista were absolutely hilarious when we were taking these pictures and the passion they both have for coffee and for people makes it such a wonderful place to get your coffee and make a friend!
Location is a critical factor when starting a business. One thing I realised about Durban, although it was a lot more active and busy compared to the city I lived in before, it was still not fully considered a major business hub compared to Johannesburg and Cape Town. A lot of people always say that if you want your business to quickly succeed, those two cities are where you should be. Many have always said that the Durban market, in comparison to the latter, is not as open and fast to adapt but as the year has gone by I have learned that this may not be so for too long. For Matimba, who had studied in Johannesburg, 8 Morrison and particularly Durban was the perfect place to launch Artisan CoffeeWorks as he says, " It's an action towards challenging the status quo. I believe Durban City is the next hub that will boom economically. It's only a matter of time. We are here because we believe in Durban. Also it's about extending the reach of specialty coffee to new markets".
Choosing to venture into the unknown is not something very common for us all and especially taking risks that may or may not lead to success is a huge gamble few people are willing to take. For Matimba this gamble was not only leaving a successful career in civil engineering, which he had studied for, but it was also completely changing industries to one that he probably was not as completely used to. Upon asking him what inspires him to get up each morning to pursue his dreams and take such risks, he said, "That I'm going out there to build something that will last forever".
Sometimes it definitely is not just about surviving or succeeding in this life but it is about leaving a legacy and (bear with me because I am going to quote Beyonce here) letting everyone know that you were here.
To the dream procrastinators (like myself...I am ashamed but I will admit it) and to those seeking to establish their own businesses one day, Matimba had this to say, " 'One day' will never come. Start now. Fail fast and fail forward."
I will conclude on that note but if you guys are ever in Durban, you will certainly enjoy a visit to 8 Morrison and while you are there, take time to also enjoy a nice cup of coffee from one of Durban's finest budding coffee shops, Artisan CoffeeWorks!
Dress: Mr Price
Shoes- Cotton On
Location: Artisan CoffeeWorks, 8 Morrison
*This was not a sponsored post. The views regarding the subject of this post are entirely my own.
Thank you for stopping by.