ULTRAGADGETS – From rags to riches, entrepreneurship at it’s finest

Township born and bred Tomas Nyoni and Dikesto Libe grew up in different parts of South Africa and in difficult economic circumstances. Tomas completed his high school at Ikakgeng Barnato High School in Johannesburg where he lived. He picked up freelance work where he could in the township of Soweto.

Diketso on the other hand grew up in a rural village of Jagersfontein in the Orange Free State and through sheer perseverance completed a Diploma in Business Administration and Human Resources at the Richfield Institute of Technology.

Their paths crossed when they met in Cape Town, where they were thrown into the thick of survival after leaving their family homes. They were soon faced with the reality of youth unemployment in South Africa, where the realities of graduates having too little experience or lack of positions available dampened their future possibilities. But they soon realized that markets are the ideal platform to obtain work and as casual workers, they sold the original grater plate that was being imported from Europe.

Within time the cost of import duties and freight outweighed the profit made on these unique grater plates. We then decided to adapt a well-performing product to the SA market and to bring the manufacture back home to empower local unemployed persons. The idea was borne to add creative design to entice purchasing of the product as functional artwork and the attractiveness to tourists was enhanced by adding vibrant African colors.

They then set about to find local artists to hand paint identifiable African shapes and patterns and added impressions of Cape Fynbos, Protea, Table Mountain, Wild Animals, Prints and the national flag. They then gathered all their resources and found a local African pottery workshop on the outskirts of the city to bake the plates.

This operation has expanded and employs 9 previously disadvantaged people and generates work for 7 more sales staff who work at various markets around Cape Town. They developed the perfect gift or souvenir, which is proudly South African, and can be easily tucked away in your hand luggage.

The Ultragadgets team is most thankful and wanted us to express their gratitude to both their customers and our management team for consulting them on just how to grow and build a business. Without the team at the V&A Food Market, they don’t believe it would have been possible. We beg to differ however. It has been evident to us that their pure determination and never-give-up attitude is the key to their business and without their commitment to making this concept work it could not have happened.