“Keep on going, keep on doing, and keep on knocking, we are all amazing and creative,” says the 24-year-old former security guard, Max ‘The Lion’ Maguga. Max is a young up-and-coming entrepreneur from Khayelitsha, Cape Town, who has started an initiative which aims to bridge the gap between corporate business and township markets. He is the founder of the ‘Get into the shack’ initiative.
“My vision was to see the many township people with interesting business ideas afforded a platform to better themselves; my goal is to create mutually beneficial partnerships between the big and the small,” he says.
He says he aims to bring understanding to big businesses about the needs of township people and the kind of difficulties which new businesses are facing.
Max says he always had the passion for innovation. His background has given him a keen understanding of the township environment and he has ventured on his own using this understanding to his advantage.
“I have seen the difficulties faced by start-up companies around poor neighbourhoods; my only vision for them is that they get afforded a chance.”
According to the ‘Get Into The Shack Website’, he is “passionate about market research and launching products into new markets in ways which mutually benefit both consumers and businesses.”
“It is important that businesses understand the specific needs of their markets in order to afford the best services possible; my aim is to make them understand township markets and propose ideal spaces for them to test their products.”
Max says he was always driven by curiosity and his love for people, which is how he got to engage with his former employer at ‘Reciprocity’ where he used to work as a security guard. This was only in 2013 when he says he had offered a solution for a company called ‘Information Logistics’.
Max was inspired by the meaning of the company’s name, ‘Reciprocity’, which is “the practice of exchanging things with others for mutual benefit, especially privileges granted by one country or organisation to another.”
He presented his idea of mediating between townships and cooperate markets, using his understanding of that environment, from which he grew up, to get big businesses to ‘Get into the shack’. “I had realised that there was a very big gap between corporate and township markets and I wanted to play a role in changing that.”
He was later mentored by the founder of Information Logistics in 2014 to 2015, David Campey, that was also the birth of Get into the Shack.
“I was given a platform where I could pitch my ideas and they gave me the mentorship after they had loved my ideas. They gave me a lot of advice on how I could best develop them.”
He also met Natalie Spays who he says helped him validate his business model and helped to develop the stunning ‘www.getintotheshack.co.za’ website.
Max hopes to help start-up companies make a name for themselves in the challenging trade market by helping them to develop relationships with bigger markets who, he says, are also keen to better understand how the township markets operate.
“The name ‘get into the shacks’ says it all; we get businesses to engage at ground level with their consumers and to understand what it is that people really want, and how to work with local small business to achieve their needs,” says Max.
Max didn’t have a successful schooling career after he was forced to drop out of his Information Technology studies at False Bay College due to financial reasons. “After that, I was simply obligated to look for ways to generate income for myself, and security is what I could get, so I took it.”
Get into the Shack officially lifted off earlier in March 2016 and it has not been an easy journey. Max says it is hard to get work and finances are a challenge; however he is determined to make this initiative succeed, even after he has been forced to do it part-time only due financial reasons. He is now closer to his passion for reading as he works at a library in Mowbray called ‘Tape Aids for the blind’.
“I always hated being seen as ‘stupid’ or ‘unintelligent’, which is why I always stayed close to reading because it is very powerful in opening up one’s mind. This job I chose because I wanted to be close to books, that is where my comfort is.”
Max’s encouragement to young people is that they must always be curious and to love knowing about things. “Young people much not sit and wait for a miracle to happen, they must whatever they have at their disposal to work hard towards achieving their dreams. It is important to ask and to speak to people.”