Stitching together a stronger community
It was over 20 years ago in Umlazi, KZN, when Mthembu's Lounge served its first customer. Today, it's run by the passionate Sicelo Mthembu who in the beginning was a child, eagerly watching his mom and dad create what has become an incredible example of a thriving family business. The popular meeting place, well-known in the local area and surroundings has expanded far beyond its beginnings as a spaza shop. In fact, even its shop, which now supplies groceries, airtime, travel bookings and bill-payments to the community, has flourished as part of a bigger vision.
Surviving the ultimate test
After his father passed away in 1996, Sicelo watched his mom give years of tireless service to the business. In 2018, he took the lead to build upon that legacy with ambitious and well-considered expansion plans. This included the integration of technology such as FNB Speedpoint ® devices to enhance the ability to serve the increasing number of customers. The impact of the devices was immediate and positive. Unfortunately, soon after he took the reins that Sicelo and the family would be put to the ultimate test.
In 2020 the business had to cease operating, literally overnight, as unexpected, and severe lockdown restrictions were suddenly enforced in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Mthembu's Lounge, like all businesses in the sector went silent - a devastating blow to any growth plans. As businesses around Umlazi shut their doors permanently one by one, and with customers and staff struggling to survive, Mthembu's Lounge could so easily have been another statistic. It was however purely through the family's ability to adapt and their foresight of ensuring the business had savings to fall back on, that it could weather the storm. Since then, the customers have happily returned and the staff serve them with a sense of gratitude.
Flying the flag even higher
Having experienced the benefits of sound financial planning Sicelo's relationship with his FNB business manager is stronger than ever. According to Sicelo, 'It's important for Mthembu's Lounge to have FNB as a partner, as one of the key things you need in a business is reliability. FNB makes things much easier, faster and efficient. Even details like separating your business from your personal accounts gives you the power to more wisely monitor your spend.'
Innovative products tailored to Mthembu's Lounge make all the difference. Sicelo concluded by saying, 'My parents had already chosen FNB as a partner since the beginning, which is why I appreciate my conversations with FNB even more, including the details that make a difference like using our eBucks to pay for fuel.'
For every business, a lasting and beneficial partnership is built on a clear direction, planning for the unplanned and adapting boldly to change. Owners like Sicelo are clear proof that partnerships and conversations change everything, and how legacies are created.
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