By Georgia Horton
When I first met Luvuyo Rani during my global social enterprise Dialogue of Civilizations in Cape Town, South Africa, I was automatically impressed. I loved the work covered by Professor Shaughnessy and the local enterprise I was fortunate enough to have worked with, but Mr. Rani’s presentation of Silulo Technologies added even more to why I had decided to participate in this Dialogue.
Mr. Rani established his first internet cafe in the notorious township of Khayelitsha in 2006. Just like a true social entrepreneur, he saw holes in the business world surrounding computer knowledge and access, and sought to fill them. His goal was to connect individuals electronically and provide them with computer skills to better prepare them for employment. His first internet cafe immediately grew and since then he has expanded his business to 170 employees working in internet cafes all over the Eastern and Western Cape. Not one year after opening its doors, Silulo Technologies won the Cape Times/KPMG Editors Award for Business Excellence. Mr. Rani’s expertise shines through as he is continually showered with various awards and honors. He was the 2010 winner to represent South Africa in the US Young Entrepreneurship Program, 2011 Endeavor Global Entrepreneur, Forbes Magazine’s feature in the March 2015 issue, and 2016 winner of the Scwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year.
Of all of the compelling traits Mr. Rani holds, his persistence is above all inspiring. I remember Mr. Rani recounting many events of his internet cafe being broken into, his computer materials stolen, and his store wrecked. Each time he told another tale of destruction he responded with a smile and words of empathy and understanding. His perspective was framed around the thought process that it was not the sole responsibility of the individuals that broke into the store, but also the society that set up individuals to feel so desperate to turn to crime. Mr. Rani understood the desperation of the individuals and saw them as victims rather than enemies. And with every break in, Mr. Rani repaired his business to continue serving the community instead of giving up or changing his goal. After that presentation, I was even more aware of why I had travelled to Cape Town and why I wanted to work with social enterprises. The complete gratitude and power from Mr. Rani’s business ethic was all-consuming and exceptional.
This commitment that Mr. Rani holds, to leave the world in a better place than he found it, is the reason why I strive to work on my education and a future in social enterprise. He was a client in the Dialogue’s first year of the TSiBA program. After having the pleasure to meet him, 10 years after he started Silulo Technologies, I can only wish that there are more individuals like Mr. Rani in the future; individuals that look at others with an understanding eye and that work for the betterment of others above all else.