It’s not every day that we meet paint manufacturers, so we were only too pleased when entrepreneur, Eugene Hlongwane, agreed to sit down with us and chat about his business journey.
Raised in Johannesburg, Eugene’s company, Afroo, was founded in 2008. He manufactures decorative paint and employs three people.
He was doing well on the manufacturing side but, upon realising that he was unable to manage finances, market himself and strategize, he joined the Awethu Incubator.
“I came to seek help, I needed to learn marketing skills. Awethu showed me that people don’t know enough about brands so I wanted my brand to be more visible,” he said.
Even though Eugene still has a 9-5 job, he says that being part of the Awethu Project has inspired him to give his business 200% commitment.
Speaking of the learnings from the incubator he says, “It was tough being told that my ideas wouldn’t work, I was married to them so I learnt to take criticism and change a few things.”
He also mentioned that he is ready to implement the learnings from the 22-week programme into his business. “I am now ready to pitch, negotiate and start working on my website and it’s all thanks to Awethu”.
In the next five years, Eugene sees his business having steady customers and opening up branches all over South Africa.
His advice for entrepreneurs is to plan properly. “What’s the use of getting millions worth of funding if you don’t have a plan for your business?” he says.