Issa Finds Solace in Tyre Repair Business

| November 11, 2014 | 0 Comments

His name is Mr Lebogang Supang, but most people in Tonota where he was born and raised call him Issa for reasons he will rather reserve for another day.

At 32, Issa has already defied the odds to become one of the poorly industrialised Tonota community’s promising young entrepreneurs running a steadily growing tyre repair business.

And his is a rags-to-riches narrative.Born in a family of five children headed by a single and poor mother, Issa’s life as a child was always a difficult affair, and so he says, but that was before he had decided to radically do something about it.

Today, as he stands in front of his spacious and well-equipped tyre repair workshop, he is not ashamed of telling as it is the story of his life growing up in a poor family.”I gly believe that my story will serve as an inspiration to fellow young people out there who might be experiencing the same plight I went through and are probably losing hope,” Issa tells BOPA in an interview.

He recalls how one day his mother fell sick and remained so for a long time without anybody understanding the nature of her disease.

And, being one of the youngest children, he together with his two younger siblings had to be raised by an ailing mom, as the situation had forced the older children to be raised by relatives,” he points out

Those were the sad days for the young entrepreneur who, together with his brothers and sisters, had to depend on the monotonous food the mom would bring home from her work in the local primary school kitchen which all her children also attended.

“As it were, it was the same beans for lunch at school and for supper in the evening at home, you can imagine how boring it was,” he winces, adding.His life, as he has come to realise, perfectly fits the saying that: ‘It does not matter where you come from, but where you are going’, and the young man believes it is this philosophy that has kept him going on against all odds and reaping handsome rewards in the course.

Of all the angels, he showers the government of Botswana with praises for making him what he is today – a promising young entrepreneur Mr Supang remembers how in 1996 a neighbour aised his mother to seek help from government through the social welfare officers.

“They came and made some assessment and from there we started receiving food rations from the government which included samp, maize meal, rice and beans, among others. We also received scool uniforms, with some coming from the Botswana Red Cross Society,” he notes.

The young man says, because of the poverty he lived in, he resorted to stealing anything from food, clothes and money from the shops around the village.

One day he stole P700 from a certain shop in the village at the age of 14 and, out the amount he gave his mother P300 only to invite questions as to where he had got the money from,” he remembers.

He confessed about stealing all along, and, like a loving parent, his mother cautioned him against such bad habits, otherwise he would end up in jail.

Mr Supang says it was only after his Form Three that he stopped stealing simply because his mother had passed on by then and he was overwhelmed by the fear of what would happen to him if he could get caught and arrested.

He started looking for proper employment immediately after writing his JC examinations, although he had hoped to further with his studies.While awaiting his results, Mr Supang worked under a certain individual patching tyres under a tree and when the results finally came out and showed that he had failed, it meant he could not go on school.His dreams had been shattered “it was at that point that I realised that I had to face life and think of my future,” he says, adding that he continued patching tyres for three years until at the end of 2001 when he decided to chase his dream of being a soccer player.

He says he left Tonota for Gaborone with the hopes of being signed by any big soccer team, citing Mogoditshane Fighters as his first preference.

Staying in Gaborone with his older sister, who was working but not earning much, was not ideal according to Mr Supang, and, within two weeks he felt the situation was better back home because he could afford to at least have three meals a day as they were being provided for by the government.

“I had tried looking for a job but I could not find one so I felt like I was a burden to my sister, I decided to go back home,” he says.

Back at in Tonota, he settled for his former work as a tyre repairer but his long term plan was to open up his own tyre shop.

Meanwhile, while he was working, he was busy building a shack just along the main road into the village where he would operate his own business and it commenced in the same year that he had returned from Gaborone in 2002.

He says, besides the shack that he had built, he needed only P200 to buy the pumps and patches for the business and in the process of opening his business, he had people who were really helpful, amongst them Mr Tomeletso Ngake who helped him with a welding machine.

Because there were customers who already knew him from his previous employer, it was not much of a hustle to get customers and he had loyal clientele.

During the initial stages of the business, one of his cousins offered him an opportunity and sponsorship to go and study at a vocational training centre.

“I turned the offer down simply because at that point in time I had made up my mind that I was going into business. I had erased the thought of studying, and working for someone else was not an option either,” he said.

During the growing of his business, Mr Supang said he felt challenged as he was not only focusing on business but also on his home issues.

“At the time, we were sleeping in a tent back home because the hut that we had, had fallen due to heavy rains. We got the tent from Red Cross. I had to see to it that we had shelter,” he said.

He is grateful to his uncle, Mr Buzwani Mannathoko and other relatives who grouped themselves and built them a two roomed house, which he resided in with his younger brothers before he could build his own in 2005.

In 2007, he approached the Youth Development Fund (YDF) for financial assistance and was by then renting a place.

Because the business was already operational, he did not endure any challenges with YDF and was financed to the tune of P37 000. He said with the grant, he bought tyre changers, air compressors, wheel balancers and patches and he is really thankful to the government for assisting him in that regard.

Two years later, Mr Supang approached Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) as he wanted to grow his business.

He said he wanted the sum of P84 000 but they said they could only assist him with P50 000, which he was to pay in four years.

“I then paid them back in two years and they asked me if I needed more. I said yes and this time around I wanted half a million pula,” he said confidently. He had to do a business plan and all the procedures and in the end he received the money.

The man is grateful to government because today he operates his business called Spills Tyre Services, which is situated along the A1 Road in Tonota.

“The government nurtured me right from childhood to this day,” he says and words cannot describe how grateful he is to the government.

Mr Supang has aised other young people who might have not done well at school to never give up in life and grab the opportunities they are presented with by government.

Source : BOPA

Source : Botswana Daily News

Category: General

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