It’s a warm day in downtown Johannesburg, South Africa. As we park, an empty can dances merrily down the street, leaving a sticky trail behind. The streets are packed with the ambitious, in the city of gold. Mpendulo Dlamini wants to leave a big mark with his little kingdom – Umbuso Lubricants.
“I love the name Umbuso because it is kingdom in siSwati and I want to create a kingdom for myself. It doesn’t matter where the business is, but people want to know where you are located because when you say you work from home, sometimes people don’t take you seriously,” says Dlamini.
The lubricants company is Dlamini’s hope of a multi-million-dollar empire.
“I got tired of reporting to a superior and I had to make a decision to be my own boss. I had always had a dream that one day I will start my own company. Entrepreneurship is what Africa needs because it creates more jobs and contributes positively to the economy.”
Dlamini quit his job as a banker at one of the world’s largest banks for this dream. It was a risk.
“It is very difficult when you start your own company and you don’t know how things will go. There is no longer the comfort of a monthly salary to pay the bills and take care of the family. It was tough but sometimes you have to stick with the business even though you have nothing. It takes time for anything to grow,” he says.
“When we started, we wanted to sell diesel and lubricants but diesel was a bit problematic and we have since stopped and are concentrating on lubricants alone.”
The lubricants market is segmented into different sectors, mainly automotive, industrial power and general industrial. Dlamini hopes to grow his business to be a major supplier to big companies.
“I have had an opportunity to supply a lot of products before. Someone wanted a lot of lubricants from me but I didn’t have enough money for stock and I lost him as a client. As a banker, I had a lawyer and a support system. I don’t have that now. Everything becomes a hustle because I have to do things myself but that is the beauty of business. You can be put down but you can always rise again and that keeps me going until you get to where you want to be.”
Like many who come to Johannesburg to make money, Dlamini might just make it as a king of oil.