Entrepreneur shines with disabled employees

“The drive for inclusion in the workplace for people with disabilities was one of the main reasons I started Msi Shoeshine and Services”, says Anda Mthulu.

Mthulu and six members of his team are physically disabled, but are determined to improve their lives. His left leg was amputated after a shooting accident that occurred on August 27, 2011. The experience inspired him to start his own business and help the disabled.

“Employing people with disabilities is great because it helps boost their self-confidence and makes them proud to be working. It also helps them provide for their families,” said Mthulu.

The shoeshine business is situated at Old Mutual’s Pinelands offices and the Cape Sun hotel in Cape Town. Mthulu informally started his business in 2010 and set-up station on the ground floor of Mutual Park in Pinelands.

Mthulu was initially not active in his business and had people work for him because he had a secure and full-time job at QuadPara association of the Western Cape, an organisation for the disabled.

“In early 2014 I got a job and interned at the organisation for a year, then after I got promoted as a facilitator and administrator, which I did for 3-years, my work there included teaching disabled people computer skills,” says Mthulu.
Mthulu is a highly ambitious man who has never given up after being shot and doesn’t allow his disability to affect him.

“I wouldn’t say my disability affects my work because I am a highly motivated person. I do have my tough days, but then again everyone else does as well,” says Mthulu.
He is a firm believer that being a disabled person and doing nothing to help your situation will not help at all. Mthulu echoes the importance of having faith in everything that you do because ‘it defines you as a person’ and helps you set goals in life.

He advises people, especially the disabled to never get discouraged or give up because in life there are many opportunities to succeed. Even though Mthulu and his workers are determined, they do have challenges that include transport, which affects their business negatively.

“My daily mode of transport is a taxi and sometimes the driver may not want to accommodate me due to my wheelchair and the time taken to get in the taxi. When I catch a taxi, not only do I have to pay for my taxi fare, I have to pay for my wheelchair too,” says Mthulu.

Since joining the SAB foundation Tholoana programme, Mthulu says that he has accomplished his goals and is grateful for the opportunity, “I didn’t know much about running a business, so being in the programme has helped me grow a lot.”

The Tholoana programme is an initiative that invests in entrepreneurs who show passion and commitment to growing the South African economy. The business support programme offers mentorship, business development workshops, and seed funding. It also provides opportunities for women, persons with disabilities and youth in rural areas.

Determined to create jobs for people with disability, he is very aware that it is not always achievable because he can’t help everyone. “People without disabilities also struggle to get jobs, so it is more difficult if you are disabled with no matric certificate,” says Mthulu. “All I can ever wish for is that when people leave my stables, they see that I, like so many other people living with a disability are perfectly able to be a valuable part of society.”

Article By Khanyisa Tyelela