I’ve been following Mpumelelo’s business activities on twitter for a while now. Due to the outbreak of #COVID19 it has seriously dented a promising small business. But an entrepreneur doesn’t seatback and mourn on lost opportunities, instead create new avenues to keep the income flowing in.
Book Ibhoni is pivoting now to take advantage of delivery services as a result of the new lockdown regulations.
Let’s find out how Book Ibhoni came about and what it does…enjoy the read and remember, if you want bicycle delivery services…Book Ibhoni is ready to deliver.
Hello! Briefly introduce yourself, your career background and Book Ibhoni?
My name is Mpumelelo Mtintso, born in Soweto (Dlamini). I went to 8 different schools, then college. I studied marketing and advertising, after college, opened an events / marketing company. I hosted 5-aside events merged with fashion, music and street culture. This didn’t do so well and was not impacting the community in a positive way. So I stopped and started a company with a positive impact on the community.
What motivated you to get started with Book Ibhoni?
The #FeesMustFall movement motivated me to start Book Ibhoni. I remember reading an article about how the youth is using the movement to be disruptive, lazy and not go to school. I then decided to do and tell a different narrative. When I started Book Ibhoni, I offered people discounted bicycle tours in exchange for books. I then collected the books and donated them to community libraries. I wanted to contribute positively for youth in my community.
What went into launching Book Ibhoni?
A lot went into launching, I had to outsource bicycles because my company didn’t own any bicycles. I had to do a lot of marketing through social media. I was able to get the attention of radio stations and TV producers. Convincing people to support a bicycle initiative was also a big challenge since bicycles aren’t seen as a mode of transport / profit making thing.
How did you raise your startup capital to make your dream a reality?
I had to save from the discounted prices I was offering. Later on, after a couple of years, my grandmothers & the love of my life donated a few rands to keep me going.
How has your role changed since Book Ibhoni opened for business?
Well, I have always done everything by myself, from being a tour guide, marketing manager, sales person and and and…I now have a full-time tour guide that works with me. I still do almost everything, so my role hasn’t changed that much.
How have you attracted customers and grown Book Ibhoni?
The power of social media, word of mouth and listing my business on relevant platforms. I believe if you give good product / service your business will grow. I’ve lived by this motto forever and it has helped me grow.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced and how did you overcome them?
Biggest challenge I’ve faced was at the beginning, starting with no bicycles. Having to outsource bicycles all the time was a big challenge. Also having a monthly sustainable income, with tourism there are no guarantees when it comes to tourists. They change their minds and cancel bookings hahaha.
What has been your proudest moment since opening for business?
The proudest moment since opening business has to be the Tour De Libraries initiative. This is a group bicycle ride I organize after collecting books (from Book Ibhoni tours). We come together with over 80 cyclists from around Johannesburg, we then cycle to community libraries to donate the books. Hearing how appreciative the recipients are, makes me proud of what I am doing with my Book Ibhoni business.
What keeps you motivated each day, in the face of operational challenges?
What is one lesson that you’ve learned through #COVID-19, about being an entrepreneur?
There is a lot, but I think the important lesson is adapting as an entrepreneur. Being able to transition in this Covid19 time is a journey with many lessons.