It is easy to understand why Isaac Mbatha, an entrepreneur from Durban, deserves a place in the hall of fame for young people who had to work smart and hard to build a thriving business.
Today he employs more than 40 people in a business that started small, it has spread its wings to the length and breadth of South Africa, and amassed clients in other countries such as Namibia, Botswana, Nigeria, Algeria, Swaziland, Uganda, Lesotho, the Seychelles Zambia, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe.
“When I embark on a project, I do so with tenacity. My advice to young people who want to go into business is that they should stay focused and true to the vision and never give up. It is also very important to surround yourself with capable people, who share your vision and see value for themselves in pursuing it with a great passion,” he said.
His company Sky Tents supplies quality tents to the general public, government departments, municipalities, corporate companies, disaster relief concerns and multi-lateral institutions. All products come with full workmanship guarantees which provide customers with peace of mind.
“At Sky Tents, we believe that education is very important and it is the key to change society through skills development. That is why we are not only involved in upskilling young people, but we also give them the tools to start their own businesses.” Mbatha said.
Growing up, Mbatha immersed himself in the family transport business, starting out as a taxi conductor, moving on to becoming a helping hand for auto mechanics, and devouring books on entrepreneurship.
“I was forced by the environment of growing up in a family of hard workers to learn to fend for myself and appreciate the value of money and the importance of saving it. Even whilst at school, I would sell sweets and other perishables so that I could raise money for myself,” Mbatha said.
He was dealt a hard blow when his mother passed away, “In 1996 I lost my mother. That was the saddest time of my life and I was thoroughly devastated by the loss as she was my pillar of strength. I then had to move to Newlands in East Durban. I still miss her a lot even today, but I draw strength from the lessons she taught me. I am sure she would be proud of me and my achievements.” he explained.
“In that way we subscribe to the notion that if you give someone a fish they will always come back for more; but if you teach someone how to fish you would have empowered them with a life skill that will help them fend for themselves and improve their lives,” said Mbatha.
His parting shot to young people is that they should work hard and be consistent in everything that they do.