In July of 2019 at around 00:30, I set off on a crazy journey. It was sudden, impulsive, in fact. But it was also necessary.
Roughly 3 years prior to this chilly winter’s night in July, I graduated from the University of KwaZulu-Natal with a qualification I believed would help me achieve my dream of becoming an award-winning journalist, who thrived in war zones and was at home in places of unrest. Strangely, I found myself working as a producer in the film and television industry, nowhere near the Sudanese crisis. During this stint in the production world, I got the opportunity to work alongside many small local businesses, which eventually led to me starting a business that was focused on equipping start-ups with digital marketing skills. This exposure to local, mostly black-owned businesses – coupled with a passion I had inherited from a close friend who wouldn’t stop going on about supporting local – nurtured a desire in me to see the businesses around me grow.
I had spent a good portion of the last 3 years trying to figure out how to build a tool for this very purpose. And in one moment it all came to me! In July of 2019 at around 00:30, I set off on a crazy journey. It was sudden, it was impulsive, but it was so so necessary. In July of 2019, 30 minutes after midnight, I started iZULU.
3 months later, our online store has been running for almost a month. I’ll be honest and admit that it’s been a total whirlwind – so many sleepless nights, so many crises, so many doubts. But also, so much support, so much faith in our vision, so many inspiring local talents opening their arms to collaborate with us.
What we’ve succeeded in building isn’t a miracle platform that will eradicate poverty, be a quick fix to the unemployment crisis and supernaturally scale businesses overnight. What we’ve succeeded in building is a platform that is proud to be South African and proud to be black. What we’ve succeeded in building is a platform that will form circles around local business owners and hold them up. What we’ve succeeded in building is a platform that chooses local FIRST and encourages others to do the same. I am both proud and eternally grateful.
So meet iZULU, an online marketplace that is passionate about empowering local makers, FIRST, and connecting people with high-quality local products, second.
We hope you’ll continue to walk this thing out with us as we continue to fight for growth, for visibility, and ultimately, for success – for ourselves but mostly, for all those who walk alongside us.
Remember, local truly is lekker.