From the dumpsites to the pulpit

From the dumpsites to the pulpit

… one man’s rise from wretched poverty…

MASERU – FORSAKEN by his father at a young age and growing up collecting rubbish for recycling, Matsoso Khanyapa seemed doomed. Instead, the experiences have shaped him into the man he is today — a pastor and successful businessman.
Khanyapa is running a successful butchery in Maseru, Maluckzen Butchery, and a small beef and pork farm in Ha-Foso, about 10 kilometres north of the capital city.
The 42-year-old is widely known for his radio programme every Thursday morning on Harvest FM where he motivates greenhorns in business, exhorting them to keep fighting when the going gets tough.
His Maluckzen Butchery, just three years old, is so well known as if it has been in existence for decades – thanks to an aggressive marketing drive.
So popular is the butchery that it has become normal to find people from outside Maseru asking for directions to get to Maluckzen Butchery, which is fast becoming the go-to-place for those in need of large quantities of meat for their parties and other feasts. The butchery is in Khubetsoana, less than 10 kilometres north of Maseru.
But how did Khanyapa manage to build a business that is growing so rapidly?
For answers, one has to dig into the man’s personal character and upbringing.
Born in Durban, South Africa, to a Mosotho woman and a Zulu man, Khanyapa is self-made.
His mother fled the matrimonial home to escape abuse when Khanyapa was just four. Taking her four children with her back to her maiden home in Liphiring, Ha-Raboroko, in Mohale’s Hoek, she changed their surname from their Zulu’s Khoza to her Sesotho Khanyapa.
Khanyapa takes thepost through his life journey from humble beginnings to what he has become.
“To be a son of a daughter who returned from a marriage is obviously not easy at all. It was quite a tough situation growing up without a biological father,” Khanyapa says.
He says they had to live with an uncle.
The tough financial situation always added as a challenge to the fact that he would always be reminded that he belonged to another family.
“Among all the situations I have come across growing up, the worst was when I had a fight with my uncle’s step daughter and she accused me of saying we didn’t know who her father was,” Khanyapa says.
“That became a big deal and the whole family gathered against me and asked me who my father was. It was a really painful experience because I didn’t really know him,” he says.
“That’s an incident I am unable to forget,” says Khanyapa, his voice trembling with emotions.
One day things got rocky when they crossed paths with their aunt (uncle’s wife) and were forced to move out and stay with their mother who unfortunately passed in 1995, when Khanyapa was 18 years old.
His uncle took over again and cared for Khanyapa and his siblings.
“I was in form C at the time and my uncle helped me from then until I finished form E, which I didn’t do so well,” he says.
He started primary school at the age of 10 after herding from a young age.
“I remember that I attended standard one with my little sister who was six years old at the time,” he says.
After the death of his mother, he moved from Makena High School in Mafeteng to Moshoeshoe II High School in Matsieng where he did form D and form E.
“I didn’t do well. So I decided to stay in Maseru and started applying for jobs at security companies, shops and basically anything that could help put bread on the table.”
Having sought a job for two years without success, he then opted for the business of collecting empty beer and cold drink cans for recycling just to make a living.
“I was staying with my elder sister in Khubetsoana and when she had to go to South Africa to further her studies. I had no option but to go home since I was unemployed.”
Khanyapa says bereft of options, he pitched a “collect-a-can” business idea to a few friends since it was a venture they could embark on without the need for start-up capital.
From then on, nothing could stop Khanyapa from pursuing business as his ticket to escape poverty but it was no easy ride.
The business was a challenge for the young men because their peers would laugh at them and as a result most of them quit out of shame leaving Khanyapa and another friend to soldier on alone.
“Every time my friend had doubts I would always remind him to never mind what people say because what we were doing was better than doing nothing,” he says.
The first amount they earned from the cans was a mere M47.
“We found it very small as we had anticipated getting about M400.” But they didn’t abandon their dream.
With that amount they bought some apples and a packet of cigarettes to sell.
“We walked from town to Khubetsoana and started selling by the roadside on the main North One Road by Willie’s Hospital,” he says, adding: “We managed to sell everything on the same day.”
On the following day, they bought more stock and “had a great support from the community until we expanded the range of our products”.
He says they managed to build a shack and started a tuck shop.
His friend later left and Khanyapa was left alone to run the spaza shop and he did it successfully.
Thinking out of the box, Khanyapa decided to broaden the venture to include items such as steering covers, car mats, tire polish and dash board sprays.
“One day I took M1 000 raised from the spaza shop and went to Jo’burg to buy stock. I sold those in the streets of Maseru and I was able to make M700 on the first day and went back to Jozi again on the same day to buy more stock.”
When Khanyapa sees an opportunity he grabs it with both hands.
Smelling an opportunity with the venture, he hired someone to run the spaza shop while he pushed the new frontier.
After a while, the spaza shop shut down due to lack of profitability.
He stuck to the car products business for a few years in town until it became slow due to increased competition.
Instead of sticking around and wait for Messiah to come, he moved the business to Mafeteng and it worked.
Along the way he found Jesus and he became a born-again Christian.
As he grew spiritually, in 2007 he went to the Assemblies Bible College to pursue a Diploma in Theology, graduating in 2010 while juggling his studies with business.
He bought a car and turned it into a 4+1 taxi after getting married.
The taxi business became so successful that he bought three more sedan taxis.
Being a pastor comes with more responsibilities, which meant missing work on Wednesdays and Sundays to attend church services.
“Because now I had many pastoral commitments, I had to quit driving and hired a driver. They became very challenging and difficult to manage so after a while I decided to sell all three cars at once and got M100 000,” he says.
He invested the entire M100 000 on ‘kipi’, a pyramid scheme, hoping to reap from the interest.
The Ponzi scheme promised M2 million after just two years.
As is the case with pyramid schemes, it collapsed and Khanyapa lost his investment.
“While waiting on kipi I was selling many things from lady’s bags, clothes, brooms and basically anything because it didn’t interfere with my work as a pastor.”
After losing from the kipi Ponzi scheme he sat down to restrategise and in 2016 he started Maluckzen Biltong, a now defunct company.
“I started off selling biltong and people would complain that they didn’t have enough meat. Finding out that not every meat makes biltong I then started going for the butchery.”
That’s how Maluckzen Butchery was born.
He has created jobs for nine people, eight in the butchery and one at the farm in Ha-Foso.
He says business challenges are very common in Lesotho “because we live where many people are unemployed so the market is very low”.
Getting into business without proper knowledge is another huge challenge for many start-ups, he says.
For example, he didn’t know how to properly store biltong resulting in wastage and spoilage.
“Pricing was one thing that I didn’t get right,” he says.
“We would always sell at very low prices and we would run at a loss.”
He says he started equipping himself with knowledge from the internet as well as from colleagues running a similar business.
His message to young people thinking of starting a business: “Thinking and not acting won’t change a thing.”
“I collected cans and everyone was laughing at me but it put me where I am today. So do something with your life because if you don’t, nobody else will.”

’Mamakhooa Rapolaki

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