The Sunday News
Sunday Life Reporter
Quite often, emerging black business people are expected to fail, almost fated to fail!
More so in the leisure sector where customer choices are fairly fickle: happy to chill here one moment and across town the next.
The entire country has experienced severe economic challenges in recent years that have taken a toll on a lot of businesses, both emerging and established.
The leisure sector perhaps more so due to the expectedly high cost of being entertained or providing entertainment in a depressed economy: disposable incomes are almost always too depressed for one to spend on braais and what not. Bread winners have been forced to do away with many of their weekend excursions to keep food on the table at home.
Over the years, both urban and rural pleasure seekers have had to watch their wallets get thinner and thinner every time they open them. Braaing tons of meat and imbibing copious amounts of the proverbial wise waters has become more difficult by the payslip (sic): what your payslip can do today is not what it can do next month end!
But one Plumtree businessman and rancher has defied these odds, managing to stay not just afloat and in business but relevant to the local leisure scene for almost three decades. He has “kept on walking” when others have crawled into oblivion, his business growing from strength to strength despite the harsh business environment.
How? “Quality, reasonable prices, cold beverages but most importantly respectful customer service is why I have been able to stay in business this long,” 45-year old Dingulwazi Ndlovu told Sunday Life.
Popularly known as “Dingi” in Plumtree (Matabeleland South) and the two rural districts of Bulilima and Mangwe, is the proprietor of Masisa Inns Bar and Butchery situated at Nxele Business Centre but also supplies beef to restaurants in the border town, has been in business for the last 27 years. The Nxele operation is well within walking distance from Plumtree Border Post.
“I started operating my butchery and bottle store in 1992 and I have somehow managed to stay afloat since then. It hasn’t been easy but thankfully we’ve managed to make it work,” Dingi says.
And for Dingi keeping his empire on its feet has been a lot of hard work. A typical day for Dingi often begins with occasionally very long drives into rural Bulilima and Mangwe to search for cattle for his butchery. Prices today can range anything between R3 500 and R8 000 depending on their weight and age.
“The first thing I do on any given day is drive into the rural areas to look for cattle for the butchery. Its harder these days and cattle are more expensive which means sometimes we have had to drive long distances to find reasonably priced beasts,” he shares.
He also revealed that many beasts at this time of the year have been severely affected by the prolonged drought making it more difficult for his business to acquire top quality beef. Ndlovu said this has forced him and other businesspeople to buy cattle for fattening before slaughter.
“These days its rare to come across a beast ready for slaughter straight from the farmer so we have had to fatten them first before we slaughter for the butchery. And what this then translates to higher prices as we try to incorporate the high cost of stock feed,” revealed Ndlovu who employs eight people.
Dingi also decried the shortage of beverages from suppliers as well as the poor road network which makes it difficult for suppliers to reach Nxele.
“The poor road network makes it difficult for suppliers and patrons to get to us. We have also been struggling to get adequate supplies of beverages making it difficult to operate efficiently,” he said.
The experienced businessman’s other business interests include a grocery store in Dingumuzi Township in Plumtree called Masisa Investments which was opened in 1992. He has, however, closed the Dingumuzi shop to concentrate on his Nxele operations. Dingi also owns a farm in Marula where his herd of cattle currently stands at 140 beasts with 35 currently in feed lots on the farm.