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The Business Hub: helping entrepreneurs thrive

26 October 2019

Gaba Tshabalala,  founder and managing director of Thelma’s Laundry Basket, had been struggling with a funding application for nearly four years before approaching The Business Hub for assistance.

Hub staff helped Tshabalala navigate the process and within a few weeks he managed to secure funding from the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) for two new washing machines, valued at nearly R50 000, and received support from the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda).

“Something I’d been struggling with for years got done in just a few weeks,” says Tshabalala. “When I walked into the Business Hub and told them my story, they immediately offered to assist. They listened, asked questions and provided sound advice.

“They gave me a lot of pointers and tips, which were quite helpful. On one occasion, they even let me use their phone. The free Wi-Fi also helped – I could check and respond to emails, and ended up making The Business Hub my base.”

There’s a genuine interest and a sincere willingness to assist, says entrepreneur of Business Hub experience

The idea to start Thelma’s Laundry Basket, named after Tshabalala’s grandmother, was born in 2014 after he struggled to find a laundry service close to his home in Langa.

“The closest laundrette was in Athlone, which is quite a distance. I then thought why not open my own, right here in Langa. Up until that point I’d been selling lifestyle magazines, going door-to-door.”

With limited business knowledge, Tshabalala took the plunge. “I started out with one washing machine, my mom’s,” he says with a chuckle. “At some point in 2016, she helped me with a loan which enabled me to buy a second-hand machine. But due to increasing demand, I had to find additional funding to get a few more machines.”

Tshabalala, who grew up in Johannesburg, has big plans for the future of his business. He recently signed on two business partners, who are helping him with marketing and a business expansion strategy.

“I’d recommend the Business Hub to anyone looking to start a business,” says Tshabalala. “I plan to continue using their facilities and services in the future, even though I got the initial support I needed. When I’m in town, I always pop by the hub for a chat with the team or to hear what’s new and whether there are any opportunities.”

Tshabalala moved to Cape Town in 2009 to study Theology at Helderberg College in Somerset West. He is currently doing a post-graduate diploma at the TSIBA Business School.

“When I moved here, I just fell in love with this city. Cape Town has so much to offer young entrepreneurs. The Business Hub is a big help. Big business (corporates) should partner with places like The Hub – that’s where they will find young aspiring entrepreneurs with great ideas.”

Need business advice or support? Contact The Business Hub for assistance.

An initiative of the City of Cape Town’s Enterprise & Investment Department, The Business Hub helps by: