Despite owning 11 fast food outlets in four towns in the Eastern Cape, Sicelo Mntonga still regards himself as an emerging entrepreneur.
In his string of franchise stores the new baby on the block is the Debonairs Pizza store situated at the newly opened Idutywa Mall in Idutywa.
He started the store with a R2-million loan he received from the Eastern Cape Development Cooperation (ecdc). The outlet started operations in December 2016 and employs 21 people.
Mntonga says that he has a long-standing relationship with ECDC which has invested a total of more than R12-million into his ventures over the years. Today, Mntonga employs more than 350 people across the four towns.
”The ECDC made it possible for me to realise my dream and to apply my passion for entrepreneurship. When I started I only had the vision, but had no resources and ECDC effectively came to the rescue. ECDC opened doors for me, provided the needed funds and I benefitted from lucrative opportunities presented by the Debonairs Pizza franchise. They made my dream of personal and skills development a reality,” an animated Mntonga says.
The Mthatha-based businessman boasts a wealthy resume as a restaurateur spanning 13 years which has seen him operating stores in Idutywa, Mthatha and Butterworth while a fourth store is in Kokstad in the province of KwaZulu Natal. His franchises include Debonairs Pizza, Wimpy, Steers and Mugg & Bean – all under Famous Brands.
Of the eight Debonairs Pizza restaurants, five are in Mthatha and one in Dutywa, one in Butterworth and one Kokstad. All the three Wimpy stores are in Mthatha and so is the Mugg & Bean restaurant. He has only one Steers based in Butterworth.
”My passion is to work with people, to develop people, afford entrepreneurship opportunities to our people and improve their lives. This was my passion from the beginning and I am happy that many people are benefiting,” says the Ntabankulu-born businessman with a smile.
Mntonga had assisted many to become entrepreneurs by offering them partnerships in his business ventures without upfront capital.
”Most of our people could make good entrepreneurs or business people, but funding is a barrier in their lives,” Mntonga says.
ECDC head of development finance and business support Tandeka Rozani says the Corporation’s support for Mntonga’s ventures is in line with its commitment to extending its reach to deserving entrepreneurs in all corners of the province.
“This is particularly true for those entrepreneurs based in underserved and largely rural areas. ECDCs loan instruments are targeted to reach entrepreneurs in areas such as where Mntonga’s businesses are located. Loan funding helps businesses in these areas to grow, stimulates local economic activity as well as facilitating job creation.
“ECDC is pleased with the contribution it has made into realising Mntonga’s dreams. He has demonstrated the skills, acumen and temperament of the type of entrepreneur ECDC intends to cultivate throughout the Eastern Cape,” says Rozani.
”It does not end there, there are a number of people who when they were initially employed only had a Grade 12 education. Through our assistance they have managed to further their studies and they have ended up with tertiary qualifications either in the hospitality industry or other fields. That makes us happy,” he says.