“I gave a voice to the unheard.” – Nkululeko Lehapa, Transparent Masks inventor.
Johannesburg, South Africa (27 October 2020) – COVID-19 has taught Nkululeko Lehapa, the Founder of Busani Clothing Enterprise, that an effective entrepreneur is one who can solve problems!
Lehapa business recently launched its deaf-friendly clear face masks. These locally made, proudly South African masks, which allow deaf people to communicate effectively during COVID-19, are clear and don’t fog at all when you breathe or speak.
“I’m very proud of our team, who have been innovative and considerate. Our community matters, and now deaf people will never be neglected.
COVID-19 has taught me that an effective entrepreneur is one who can easily solve problems and adjust to current market trends, an entrepreneur who can see opportunity in challenges. I’ve learnt that I need to be open-minded, resourceful and adaptable. And most importantly, I’ll be able to ask for help when needed.”
The passionate South African has been an entrepreneur since he was 20. While studying a Bachelor of Sciences degree in Applied Maths and Economics at Wits University, he faced the risk of being financially excluded.
He decided to seek employment and began working at an investment bank, but since his income was going towards paying for his fees, Lehapa had no money for formal work clothing… so he decided to make his own.
“I became known at work for being incredibly well dressed, and my colleagues insisted that I make suits for them as well. What made my brand unique was the level of customisation you could get with us at a price that was really affordable. “
Since then, he has maintained full-time employment to be able to fund his business when needed, and in early 2020, Standard Bank provided him with funding via its enterprise development programme.
“I learnt about the programme through a close friend of mine who previously worked for Standard Bank and who saw great potential in our business.”
On helping others and the way forward
While running a textile company, Lehapa came across a few entrepreneurs in the same industry, many of them unsure about what the next steps for their businesses should be.
“So, I personally offer private consultations to these entrepreneurs, where I allow them to ask me questions. I provide them with tips and suggestions on how to market and source for their businesses. I also offer them full access to my facility with regards to product designs and production.
I have a strong passion for mass production, as I believe that this is a strong solution for unemployment in our immediate community as well as a great contribution to skills development.”
His facility has a capacity of 12 full-time tailors.
“Our short-term goal is to build a facility that accommodates 50 to 100 full-time tailors. This type of facility will require us to build long-term relationships with well-known major retailers and suppliers. This will allow us to be sustainable well into the future.”