Making lemonade out of the lemons of adversity
12 Jul 2017
By Thabiso Molopo
SKS Business Solutions is a construction company that offers services in civil works and access control. Based in Khanda Industrial Park, Roodepoort, the company employs 28 permanent staff and 50 casuals in three locations – Rustenburg in North West, Amersfoort in Mpumalanga and Roodepoort, Gauteng.
The power behind SKS is founder and director, Siphiwe Zwane, who is a paraplegic. “My company has a turnover of R30-million a year, our main clients being PRASA and Eskom. I try by all means to make a difference in our country as we know that the unemployment rate is very high, especially amongst the youth,” says the man from Meadowlands, Soweto.
Zwane was shot by three men in 1992, when he and his wife visited a friend in Meadowlands.
“They wanted my car and I gave them willingly, but when I tried walking away, one of them shot me in my spinal code I was later told by the doctors that I would never walk again. That was the most difficult time of my life.” From then on, he had to use a wheelchair.
“I got a pay cut after my accident because I could no longer be more productive at my previous employer. I had to take the risk and I eventually started my own business in1995. I wanted to be independent and support my family properly,” says the 50-year-old entrepreneur. Zwane’s entrepreneurial skills showed after he was retrenched, for medical reasons. “I decided to buy a car after my payout so I could use it to go and sell chicken livers at Dube Taxi Rank. I took my kids along when they came back from school which made things easier for me.”
He did not give up even after he lost his wife to cancer in 2010. He was then left to raise their three children, Khanyisile, Siphamandla and Nhlakanipho, now 27, 24 and 14, respectively.
“Being raised by a father with disability has never been any different to being raised by an abled-bodied father, because my dad is an amazing man, says Siphamandla, who is an operations coordinator at SKS Business Solutions. “His lack of mobility has made our relationship very strong as I go with him everywhere.”
He mentors a number of persons with disability. “I also have a passion to help persons with disability, especially knowing that it’s hard to get jobs if you have disability. I help other people with disability, especially those who have companies. I send them information about opportunities they can look out for,” says Zwane.
Zwane says information sharing is vital for entrepreneurs and that he is not afraid to voice his concerns when he sees that government institutions or private companies’ facilities are not accommodative.
“Opportunities must come to the communities,” he says. “The government must do so because transport is a problem for persons with disability. The policies in the government are right, but transport is the main problem for people with disability.”
Zwane says he is building his company so he can employ more people. He encourages persons with disabilities to start their own companies. “Having your own company will make you more independent. It won’t only benefit persons with disability but the country as a whole.”