From a Single Internet Café to a Technology Company: The Story of South Africa’s Rani Brothers.

Born in a little town in Eastern Cape of South Africa, the Rani Brothers, Luvuyo and Lonwabo, grew up with little exposure to information technology.

Through secondary school, the brothers worked in different places. They tried raising money. They did whatever they could to augment the financial support from their parents.

Upon gaining admission to Cape Peninsula University of Technology, the brothers moved to Khayelitsha a town near the university.

In college when completing projects, checking mails and carrying out assignments students required internet connection. This was a problem. Students had to travel over an hour to get internet service.

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The Rani brothers and the technician they first hired, Photo credit: www.entrepreneurmag.co.za

This was a big concern to students of the university: the Rani Brothers inclusive. As time went, their school hours was spent traveling far distances to get school work done.

Few years later, one of the brothers was confronted with this same problem again. Luvuyo got a teaching job at a secondary school in Khayelitsha.

 South Africa’s government introduced a new curriculum that required all school teachers have computer skills.

Sensing an opportunity, as a result of government policy, Luvuyo took a loan. He bought used computers and began selling computers to his fellow teachers from the back of his truck.

He recruited his brother Lonwabo and together they brought in a third partner.

The brothers brought together sales and marketing experience and the third person had technical experience in computers repair and maintenance.

As the months went by, the need for computer and IT skills became so great. In 2005, the brothers cashed in on this need. Using their savings, the brothers leased a small store in Khayelitsha and began an internet café business.

Starting with about 10 computers and a dial up internet connection, the Silulo café provided IT skills, internet services as well as sales and repair of computers.

As the business grew, the brothers re-invested their profits in the business.

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Graduants from Silulo Training Programme. Photo credit: silulo.comthe business.

By 2006, the café offered all kinds of business center services such as printing, photocopying, curriculum vitae design, publishing and a whole lot more.

In the same year, the brothers launched and graduated students from its first computer training school.

Being the only internet and computer skill-acquisition center in Khayelitsha, the number of students wanting to register were enormous.

The Rani Brothers in 2010 signed a partnership with Vodacom, one of Africa’s leading mobile cellular network.

The deal provided Silulo café the right to sell Vodacom products and in turn Vodacom finance the establishment of five new Silulo centers every year. Then refurbish old ones and provide cellular network training to staff at Silulo centers.

Operating in more than 17 centers in the Western Cape of South Africa, Silulo enterprise has become synonymous with technology in Khayelitsha as the company graduates and empower over 1000 students every year in information technology.

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One of silulo centers, photo credit: www.fin24.com

 

These graduates some of whom are unemployed before they enrolled into Silulo have gone on to become call center operators, internet café operators and IT sales representatives.

Some of them have been retained as staff of Silulo.

More recently, Silulo has opened online training program to bridge the learning gap distance can create.

Two brothers have changed the way IT services are provided in townships and inner cities across South Africa. They have created a brand for themselves, bringing job opportunities to people in need.

 

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