From rags to riches, a business success story

Philani Sola was raised in poverty, but instead of allowing that to affect him, he made a vow not to subject his own family to the same situation. Now, he is a successful businessman, both here and in his homeland.

Philani Sola, the owner of a successful catering training school in South Africa.
Philani Sola, the owner of a successful catering training school in South Africa.

“I know what it means to have nothing of your own,” he said. “As a boy, I took my situation to be an inspiration of how not to live life and it has helped.”

After an under-privileged beginning restricted his academic life to the Zimbabwe Junior Certificate, the Plumtree-born Sola migrated to South Africa in 1980, at 20-years-old. He was employed in various restaurants and hotels – first as a cleaner and then as a waiter, developing affection for a trade that would later shape his life.

“I learnt many things in the trade, which later became a part of my life. I really liked the food and service aspect of it and felt lonely when I did not go to work.”

Then misfortune struck.

“I got involved in a nasty car accident in 1999, which left me badly injured. As a result, I could not continue to work and that really hurt me. I had to find something to do.”

After his full recovery, he bought a vehicle and began a goods carrier – Malayisha, but that did not last. With no passion for the job, he wanted to return to his first love, the hospitality industry.

Inkeldon Catering

In 2005, Sola launched Inkeldon Catering, a company that trains waiters and barmen and hires them out for major events. The company currently has hundreds of employees.

“I am now a respected man in the industry here and the company is one of the most sought-after because of its professional service,” said Sola. “We have had clients in high places and provided service to some well-known guests, who I cannot disclose, but I am a happy man.”

He provided a simple recipe for success: hard work, following your dream and believing in yourself, however the odds are stacked.

With big plans for his homeland, the businessman has already bought a cocktail bar, and eating house in Kezi, Matabeleland South, where he is also building a shop.

“My businesses are all high quality, judging by Zimbabwean standards, but I cannot sit back and say I have done enough. I still have big plans for that community, which has been very supportive of me since my childhood. My other dream is to build a big shopping mall in Bulawayo, which will be the size of Nkulumane Complex.”

He also had a message for the youth. “My advice is that they should not set targets that are easily achievable, but those that are only achievable with the greatest effort. They should remember that the world only makes way for those who know where they are going.”

Post published in: Opinions & Analysis
  1. Zamani Ngwenya

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