Focus on youth
Education has been the lever to open doors and get out of poverty for this young businessman from Tshwane.
Ask Karidas Tshintsholo and he will tell you that poverty made him an entrepreneur. He was four when the ice cream van drove through his Ekangala township home. Like all children he asked his mother for a treat.
“My mom then grabbed me very tight and looked me in the eyes and said she couldn’t buy that ice-cream, even though she wanted to. But she told me that I am the man of the house and we needed to work together.”
In that moment he realised that his mother provided food and shelter, any extras he would need to work for. Tshintsholo was six when he started his first business, paying kids to make wire cars that he then sold on. Today he is business brain and co-founder, with a designer friend, of Push Ismokol Clothing.
The company designs, manufactures and markets its clothing, caps and sweaters from a factory close to where he grew up. Local manufacturing matters to him.
“I strongly believe in African solutions to African problems. The business is more sustainable in the long run when you grow your own capacity to produce, as opposed to just buying from China and selling.”
Tshintsholo is making his success the foundation for uplifting his community. His factory is based close to his home and he hires from the community. He has been open about creating opportunities and upskilling women and youth from Ekangala, in the City of Tshwane.
“I have been fortunate and now one of my goals is to be able to go and give back, because I know there are a lot of people where I come from who are skilled in ways that the system does not necessarily cater for.”
The University of Cape Town actuarial science graduate believes that the foundation of his success has been education. In Grade 9 his maths marks dropped, he spent the rest of the year working harder and by the end of the year was the top maths student in his school.
“The people who can get out of a township are the people who can either write an essay or solve a maths problem. If you can’t do those things then you are basically trapped because the system doesn’t really cater for those gifted in other ways, such as with their hands.”
Tshintsholo’s success has not gone unnoticed. He was a finalist for the Anzisha Prize, Africa’s biggest prize for young entrepreneurs and business disruptors. He has also been selected as an Allan Gray Orbis Foundation fellow. The fund is the investment management firm's investment in young entrepreneurs, providing access to education and entrepreneurial development..