Businessman, Mbulelo Nkqayi, shares his lessons with aspiring local entrepreneurs in honour of Global Entrepreneurship Week
12 November 2021: Global Entrepreneurship Week, which extends from 8 – 14 November is a celebration of entrepreneurs that brings together a diverse ecosystem of entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, policymakers and other startup champions across 180 countries. In appreciation of the role that South African small businesses continue to play as key drivers of gross domestic product (GDP), Business Partners Limited salutes its client, Mbulelo Nkqayi, the owner of Man Buy and Braai, a King William’s Town establishment that celebrates an iconic part of traditional South African culture – the tshisanyama.
Bustling crowds, gyrating to the beat of local music. The cheerful clinking of bottles. And the familiar sound of meat sizzling on the braai. These are the sights and sounds that permeate the premises of Man Buy and Braai – a butchery by day and a pub-cum-restaurant by night, founded and owned by entrepreneur Mbulelo Nkqayi, whose journey to becoming a fully fledged business owner began at the age of 40.
“Entrepreneurs are people who can identify a need and find an innovative and creative way to meet that need. For me, I realised that the need for convenient access to good food; and, more importantly, good quality meat, was important and unique in the South African context. I found a way to cater to that need in a way that merges eating, drinking and entertainment. It’s a combination that speaks to how South Africans enjoy socialising,” says Nkqayi.
Man Buy and Braai was founded at the turn of the millennium. Up until that point, Nkqayi was a civil servant and a trainer, teaching unemployed people how to become entrepreneurs. With a drive to begin to “practice what he was preaching,” Nkqayi spent his savings and pension payout buying and transforming a derelict building in Mdantsane into a butchery, for which there was a clear need in the area.
Soon afterwards, Nkqayi realised the importance of raising a loan in order to fund the equipment he needed for the butchery. On paper, Nkqayi was the ideal candidate for a small business loan – he had researched and defined his target market clearly, developed a business plan on which he had spent personal resources, he was well-versed in how to start a business and also had collateral in the form of a building. Initially however, he struggled to get approval from a state-run small business finance scheme.
On this point, Nkayi offers the following advice for entrepreneurs: “When approaching a potential funder, you need to go ‘above and beyond’ having a business plan. It will be to your advantage if you can show evidence of the steps you have taken towards achieving everything you can up until the point that you need funding in order to go further. It’s important to be proactive and always take initiative.”
Later, Nkqayi spotted an advertisement for the Small Business Development Corporation (Business Partners Limited’s predecessor) and approached the organisation for SME finance. He was successfully able to secure a loan of R160 000, repayable over five years. Business Partners Limited used the building as security, and required that Nkqayi appoint a qualified blockman to cut the meat. It was the start of something remarkable.
“In entrepreneurs like Mbulelo Nkqayi, we see the determination and tenacity of the archetypal South African small business owner. Our team saw his potential to flourish and we are proud to say that we were right in our assessment of Mbulelo’s entrepreneurial prowess and commitment to his business’s success. Man Buy and Braai epitomises true South African culture and we’re honoured to have been a part of its journey as it grows and expands nationally,” says Arnold February, Regional Investment Manager at Business Partners Limited.
Nkqayi’s butchery has evolved into one of the most popular tshisanyama restaurants in Mdantsane and expanded to include two more outlets, which were also financed with loans from Business Partners Limited.
“It is only through never lowering my guard that I believe Man Buy and Braai has grown to the extent that it has. With constant challenges being thrown along my path, I needed to become innovative. Remember – someone not far from you is starting what you want to start, or doing what you do, so you always have to be one step ahead of the competition,” says Nkqayi.
Today, Nkqayi is proudly debt-free and has survived the hardships brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite business being slow due to the various levels of lockdown, Nkqayi is confident that things will pick up again in 2022 and offers this advice for local entrepreneurs: “Running a business is like driving a 26-wheeler truck – you have to constantly make sure that all the wheels are turning. Even when there is progress and movement; as a South African entrepreneur, complacency is simply not an option – the busier a business is, the more you need to be on your toes.”