Country: South Africa
There is little more satisfying than a simple solution to an annoying problem, especially when it makes money. Thomas Edison created the long-lasting lightbulb that everyone could afford; Henry Ford did the same with the family car; in South Africa, Ngwenya has invented an item to cover the gap between his pants and shoes.
Ngwenya is a tall man; 1.9 meters in his socks and struggled all his life to find trousers that would fit down to his shoes. So, he came up with socks to close the gap and made them in bright colors to make the point.
“I was teased growing up and given different names. I deliberately named the brand Skinny Sbu Socks because I thought I had been teased enough and it was high time we celebrate being tall and skinny,” says Ngwenya.
A sock collector at a tender age, his defining moment was reading of two Americans building sock brands.
A few weeks later, his mother suggested he sell them.
“I had bought 14 pairs of socks for R5 ($0.40) each and I repackaged them and sold them for R25 ($2) a pair.”
He counts former Top Billing presenter Tumisho Masha, politician Tony Yengeni, TV personality Maps Maponyane, celebrity entrepreneur and philanthropist Shaka Sisulu, and the leader of opposition political party the Democratic Alliance, Mmusi Maimane, among his clients.
“We are in the last stages of signing our biggest distribution deal with a major retailer… the product will be in 60 stores in October – the aim is to do all 320 stores by end of 2018. Thereafter I have my eyes fixed on opening my own flagship stores and taking over the African continent.”
At the risk of stretching a metaphor, his business knocks the socks off the rest.