Many youths are fulsome of bright ideas to start businesses and, once they have initiated one, keeping it on its feet is another thing.
A proud resident at Zava village in Giyani and a third-year management services student at University of Johannesburg, Akani Malungana (21) is a founder and managing director at A-Images. He is one youth whose business has stood the test of time and survived possible closure.
“I am a self-taught photographer and graphic designer, who used to play around with Photoshop and other Adobe tools, doing edits to his personal pictures until it turned into a hobby, then later into a career.”
Today he is a photography specialist, and it has not been easy for him to realise his dream either. He wanted to take his business to another level and not only focus on mini-events.
“So I turned to National Youth Development Agency for funding, where I sent applications for consecutive two years, with no luck.”
He then decided to ask for some financial help from his family members. His mother was the only one who seemed to show interest in his career as a photographer and graphic designer.
“My mother, Lilly Rikhotso, knew how much I wanted to pursue this career and she tried by all means to help me even though she pays school fees and rentals for two of my siblings at varsity, including myself.”
He had delved into photography as a business around November 2015, where he founded his business, A-Images, after getting positive feedback from his posts on social media such as Facebook and Instagram.
“A year later A-Images reached 10 000 followers on Facebook. More and more people started booking us for professional photography. That’s when I took everything serious.”
For Akani, there’s nothing as exciting on earth as doing what one loves and making money through it.
“There’s too much pressure on me since I also do graphic design for big companies, and having to do photography on the other hand. I am also very proud to have received the Mapungubwe Designer of The Year 2016 award.”
He says that getting starting capital is always a challenge for any youth-owned business. He remembers that during his first year at the University of Johannesburg he had to sell his first iPhone in order to get the equipment which he needed to run the business at the time.
“But that wasn’t enough, my vision for A-Images was beyond that of doing basic photography and graphic design. In 2017, the company was not running for a full year due to lack of professional equipment, and that’s when I started saving some money through the monthly allowance from my mother. I can really attest that support is very important if you want to achieve anything in life, and I am really thankful for having such a supportive mother – may God continue to bless her.”
He had just struck a serious deal early this year, where after the job he managed to purchase his first professional camera and other professional equipment worth R100 000.
“It was difficult but what made it easier was my level of discipline. I bubbled with joy and happiness and decided to expand my business and reach of clients. With the kind of sophisticated equipment, I will satisfy many clients.”
A-Images has just entered into partnership with a high profile corporate for a rewarding deal which will see them employ a few young people.
“It has always been my desire to contribute to society by giving youths some opportunities where they’ll pick themselves up economically. There are many youths with Grade 12 but are currently undergoing a gap year. I would like to target them and assist. If I give them a job stint during their gap year, they can still pursue their studies the following year.”
So far, Akani’s future as a young business man who also contributes to society is looking even brighter. With more hard work, he will achieve more.
“I will never stop hustling until my name is on Forbes,” he says.
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