Lindokuhle Duma is the founder of a Durban-based company, Iziko Stoves. Iziko Stoves are innovative cooking and braai stoves that utilize wood, coal or any biomass materials as a cooking fuel. Lindokuhle started his business straight after finishing his B.Com Accounting Degree when he identified a substance abuse problem in his community.

Iziko Stoves was founded with the main purpose of assisting substance abusers to re-integrate into society after completing a rehabilitation programme. At Iziko Stoves, ex- abusers are guided through the process of making stoves, how to be job ready after completing their course and how they can even start their own business down the road.

After a month of training, they receive potjie stoves and braai stands, an order form/shirt and have to sell these products in their communities in order to assist them in receiving income.

In the two years that Iziko Stoves has been in business, they have assisted 211 substance users and 179 have managed to completely change their lives.

Lindokuhle’s journey to establishing his business was not an easy one; along the way he had to make sacrifices and go through a year without any source of income. Lindokuhle explains that he ran out of petrol more than 14 times, got stuck on freeways and also had endless dilemmas with his landlord. However, through it all he pushed on and stayed motivated because he knew his business would be a success. Through perseverance, determination and hard work he was able to move past all these obstacles and now runs a business he is proud of.

A mere two years after establishing his business, Lindokuhle has grown as an individual and also as an entrepreneur and now looks back on his journey with a smile. In 2017, he was chosen to be part of the SABC programme “Brand South Africa Play Your Part” and last October, Iziko Stoves won R150 000 funding and R140 000 in business mentoring and support at the SAB Foundation Social Innovation Awards. Through this funding, Lindokuhle has been able to develop and grow his business enormously. He has improved the quality of products, invested in better equipment and machinery and employed more staff members. This March, he has been selected represent South Africa and travel to Israel to share ideas with social entrepreneurs in that country.

Lindokuhle encourages anyone who dreams of starting their own business to follow their heart, but believes that they must have a strong desire to succeed and not give up easily. His words of advice to people who want to start their own businesses are:

  • Define your values and protect your identity. Your identity carries your values, it carries your reputation and tells your story, that is your biggest asset.

  • Do a lot of planning, it will help you cut down on risks and will help you map out the direction you want to take.

  • Find a team, because you cannot do everything on your own.

His five top tips for start-up and established entrepreneurs to keep a business running are:

  • Cash flow: ensure there is cash coming in regularly, lack of cash suffocates growth.

  • Consistently communicate the vision and culture of the company to your team.

  • Invest in branding and marketing

  • Develop people, you can’t do everything on your own.

  • Always have a plan.

“There is a beautiful parallel between the stoves and the substance abusers; society views the substance abusers as junkies and many refer to them as trash, much like the geysers and gas cylinders from scrapyards we recycle to create our beautiful products. There is a parallel between the substance abuser and leaking geyser that have both been ‘written off’ by society, but we invest in both to create value and a new image” – Lindokuhle Duma, Iziko Stoves.