Inspired by a car show on DStv, Nosipho Kholutsoane started Lereku Trading Classic Car – a business that repairs and stores vintages cars. Nicknamed umama wasezikoro-korweni (the lady of broken-down cars), Nosipho says it’s intimidating working in a male-dominated industry but taking the risk of starting her own business was worth it.
“I was visiting a friend and there was a car show playing on one of the TV channels. It inspired me to start Lereku. I didn’t even ask the name of the show nor the channel it was screened on,” says Nosipho. With only R2 000 and no prior experience in the automotive industry, the 39-year old bought a rusted 1947 Pontiac and got to work fixing it up.
“My team and I have a passion for old cars. Restoring and repairing those cars is easier compared with modern cars, which are made up of too much technology. Finding the right parts for vintage cars isn’t much of a struggle either.”
However, with Mount Fletcher in the Eastern Cape being as rural as it is, Nosipho needs to market her business in order to gain customers. She does this via social media and word of mouth – and both approaches have worked in her favour. Lereku’s services are commissioned countrywide by vintage car owners who had no hope of ever restoring their golden oldies. She also has the advantage of tourists travelling between Durban and Cape Town and passing through the Eastern Cape.
“Outside of social media, I attend car shows to put myself out there and with the easing of lockdown restrictions, the business has started gaining momentum again. The main challenge is network coverage in our area. It is difficult and costly to receive car part deliveries on-time given the communication barrier between myself and suppliers,” Nosipho explains.
Currently completing the Small Business Academy (SBA) programme offered by the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) and sponsored by the Joe Gqabi Economic Development Agency (JoGEBA), the mother of four admits that balancing family life, school and a business isn’t child’s play.
“It’s hectic being a wife, a mother and a businesswoman completing school, but the programme has been a lifesaver to Lereku. I have learnt – and I’m still learning – so much. I can now track my business’ growth better and understand where losses come from. My family has been supportive and understand that I sometimes have to sacrifice family time to achieve my goals.”
Nosipho would love to leave a legacy of being known as the “queen of classic cars” in her village. With four employees, her aim is to grow her business and create more employment opportunities within the community.
“My hope for my business to grow and have workshop premises outside my home yard; obtain bigger machinery and in a few years, expand out of Mount Fletcher,” Nosipho concludes. Lereku also hires out vintage cars for photoshoots.
Contact Lereku on: 066 201 6639
Author: Yonga Balfour