Khayalethu Maphongwana is a 32-year-old entrepreneur from Khayelitsha who is currently based in Johannesburg. After successfully completing his Diploma in Business Management, he went on to become a banker at one of the top banks in South Africa. We caught up with him about his journey from being an ordinary kasi guy to doing entrepreneurship in the city of gold.

Ndibulele Sotondoshe: Please tell us, who is Khayalethu?

Khayalethu Maphongwana: I’m a people’s person with a big heart for positive change, growth and development in life. I’m full of life, inspired by life-changing experiences, both good and bad. I also believe in God as my Creator. I’m a public speaker who enjoys constructive debates. I enjoy travelling and exploring different spaces and anything that I’m not familiar with. I find pleasure in helping those who are less fortunate and I’m a very principled, accountable and responsible individual.

NS: Tell us about life in Khayelitsha.

KM: I grew up like any ordinary boy in the township. I was raised by a single parent and we depended on one source of income. It was me, my mom and my late eldest sister. Me being the only male in the house came with expectations but there was no basic value system in place laid as a foundation to prepare me for these expectations. My mom did her very best she could do for us. But she didn’t know much about the spiritual and emotional needs of a child as she never received it from her parents. We had to find a way to jell and make things work so that life could continue smoothly.

NS: And your school days?

KM: I was an average student at school. I had no encouragement and motivation about education. There was no role model at home, no track record of a graduate and all these known success stories. But one thing I know, I was a hard worker. That was something I just had in me and my favourite subject was Business Economics. I passed the subject with A+. At our award ceremonies, I was recognised as a top achiever in the subject in my class.

NS: Would you say this was the defining moment for you?

KM: Yes. My confidence grew as people started recognising and congratulating me. People talked about me when I walked past them. This was a self-discovery moment. It was time to find myself, who I was, what I wanted and the picture of where I was going.

NS: Then you went into the banking sector?

KM: After my matric, I wanted to study at CPUT but they put me on the waiting list. I ended up enrolling for a Diploma in Business Management at Oval Collage in Cape Town CBD. My neighbour brought me application forms for a Bank Seta learnership that was looking for young people. After numerous interviews and assessments, I was finally accepted.

NS: Tell us more…

KM: I was doing my work experience at [this leading bank] and was based at the head offices in town. I spent a year rotating within the departments, doing fulfilment and back office work of the branches. I was offered a temporary position as a home loans consultant. Unfortunately, the recession hit the country and I was retrenched. A year later, I was recalled. I applied for a permanent position as a credit risk officer and that was not the easiest time in my career but I made the most of the moment. In 2012, my department relocated and centralised to Jo’burg. It meant I had to relocate.

NS: And that’s when you became a banker?

KM: In 2013, I applied for a business banker position and I was appointed! That was a great learning journey that was filled with more self-discovery and in-depth learning about the financial world. It improved my skills on how to work with different people and unique individuals.

NS: But then you left for entrepreneurship?

KM: Leaving the bank sector was never in my plan. My relocation had somehow affected my finances negatively as I moved from staying at home to renting my own space. This is when I made some wrong financial decisions and that affected my take home salary. I found myself sinking in debt for three years and annual increments didn’t help in any way. In 2019, my role was directly affected by The Fourth Industrial Revolution. I settled my debts eventually and business ideas came into mind after exiting the institution.

NS: Please share with us…

KM: I then established a consulting company, Umngeni Business Enterprise, in training and facilitation as I love training and sharing knowledge with others. Since June 2019, I have been busy with upskilling myself with specialised skills and qualification. I’m training to be accredited as an assessor, moderator and skills development facilitator. I also sell ladies’ bags, perfumes, men’s tops and socks. This business has shown amazing growth in the past three to four months with a great clientele base. We’re only going up from here!

NS: Any last words before we go?

I must say life is a school. We need to give life and people a chance, and be mindful about letting the past repeat itself. Also, be watchful who is in your circle. Never get tired of doing well for others when you have means to do so and remember you reap what you have sown.

Find out how a kasi entrepreneur is cooking up a storm here


Tell us: What did you learn from Khayalethu’s story?