28 October 2021

The 24-year old is reaping the rewards of participating in the Entrepreneurship Student Programme, where he learnt a lot about business and funding. In 2019, UMP Dean Of Students, Dr Paul Maminza, appointed him as a member of the CoP (Community of Practice), where he acted as the ambassador for UMP in the National Committee of Entrepreneurship Development In Higher Education (EDHE) in association with the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and Universities South Africa (USAF).

Tshiloane says that opportunity to be part of the programme played a pivotal role in his life and business. “It allowed me to grow and learn more about entrepreneurship: the challenges and rewards that comes with it. I’m hoping to complete my Honours so that I can continue with my entrepreneurship journey after graduation." 

The Honours student currently juggles studies and running StayHope Student Accommodation, which houses mostly UMP learners. The idea he says came about in 2019 when he realised that UMP was growing and did not have enough student accommodation, and that there was a shortage of beds at the Mbombela campus.

“I’ve spent time studying the property business and trying to find the gap in the market, until I saw that there was no enough accommodation for students. I started trying to secure funding back in 2018 when I was only 21. Though I could not get it that time, I never gave up. I continued knocking on different doors,” he says.

Then in 2020 he secured a small portion of the required funding. That managed to provide him with a space that could house 20 students. 

"I kept on dreaming bigger and by God’s grace I managed to find an investor. I took a chance and approached my mentor over a WhatsApp, conversation, which is not a very conventional method, but because he knows me, my background, and what I am capable of, he decided to fund my business," Tshiloane continues. 

“I’m proud to say that I have created a safe residence for over 50 students and managed to create employment for five people. Even when the pandemic affected my profits and there was a decline, I was able to keep going by using my savings.”


Hunger for success rewarded

An eager entrepreneur, the housing project was not Tshiloane’s first attempt at running his own business. In 2018 he bought himself a laptop with his NSFAS allowance and used it to start selling T-shirts. At that same time he created his own YouTube channel, which, by 2020, had over 16 000 subscribers and 4.5 million streams. He sold the channel and used the money to reinvest in a branding business, which struggled because that same year he was nominated to be in the SRC/CRC 2018/2019.

"I had to discontinue certain engagements to focus on students, my academics and self-development. Though I was not active in business but I never stopped learning. I participated in political organizations to gain more knowledge about governance and leadership. I started attending seminars outside campus as well. My hunger for success has been the big driving force." 

Tshiloane has received many accolades and awards over a short period of time. In 2018 he received the National Community Champion award from the Black Management Forum for his participation and creation of community projects that were fighting food security and provision of knowledge. That same year he was nominated and became the youngest finalist in the SAPPI Community Outreach programme.

In 2019 he was awarded Student Philanthropist of the year by the South African Student Union (SAUS) in Cape Town. The same year, he was awarded Best Male Vice-Chancellor Excellence award for Student Leadership. And also in 2019. In 2020 he received a scholarship to study at the Stellenbosch University Centre of Leadership and Governance, where he completed his NQF Level 6 Certificate through part-time studying.

“These achievements and awards are a reflection of many as I never expected them. My focus was on doing my best and being the absolute best. With God on my side, my work and role in the University never went unnoticed.”

He adds that all his achievements and running his business came with plenty of patience and dedication. “Business is hard work; you need to equip yourself with the necessary knowledge and you need to understand how students operate. The most important aspect, especially while you are still young and green, is understanding financial management. It is very tempting, when you see the cash flow in, to get carried away and want to spend it all, but you have to save every last penny. You must also not forget why you are here, on campus, and that is your academics," he says.

“Remember that the very reason you are in the student entrepreneurship space, is the fact that you are a student. Never forget what your priorities are, and don’t abandon your studies; always give your all.”

@ Story by Cleopatra Makhaga. Pictures Supplied.