Business venture helps employees shine

Having a disability should not determine how you lead your life.

This is the message from the members of the Master Shoeshine Invigorator (MSI).

MSI founder Anda Mthulu said all the members of his team are physically disabled but were keen to improve their lives. Mr Mthulu started the shoe shining business in 2010 and since then they have been nominated for various business awards.

The seven-member team operates a shoe-shining service at Old Mutual’s headquarters in Pinelands and the Cape Sun in Cape Town on alternating weeks.

“It’s very difficult being a disabled person but sitting down and doing nothing about your situation will not help,” Mr Mthulu said.

The other six members, Noxolo Langa, Masixole Mawonga, Abongile Qaba, Andile Krenya, Makhosandile Fongoma and Babalo Pholose were all recruited by Mr Mthulu.

“I have known them for years and when I got this idea I approached them and they liked the idea of working for themselves,” he said.

Ms Langa, the only woman in the group, said she was truly appreciative of the opportunity given to her by MSI.

“Instead of sitting at home and doing nothing we are now servicing people and they really appreciate what we do.They give us a lot of encouragement,” she said.

“I support my four children. The little I get here puts food on the table. Also by being here I am saying to others, disability is not the end of life, “ she said.

The group said they were motivated by the prospect of waking up every day to do what they like. It also acts a bonding session for most of because they are involved in wheelchair sports.

Mr Qama, from Langa, said he was happy with his work and the group’s focus. “When you are disabled you face a lot of stereotypes and when Mr Mthulu approached me, I saw an opportunity to rebuild my life,” he said.

He said people were often fascinated by their story. “As we polish their shoes they are more interested in us. How did we become like this? But others are shy to ask. We like retelling our stories because it heals us,” he added.

Mr Mthulu thanked the local businesses who helped them buy necessary equipment for the job.

“It’s really nice when black businesses help their own people,” he said.

He added that their business was in the top 20 companies vying for the 2018 National Small Business Chamber awards and was shortlisted for the Never Surrender Award.

“We did not win but by the virtue of being there we are still celebrating. It shows that we have potential,” said Mr Mthulu.