From a street child to entrepreneur

Success story: Dumi Mbona with his mentor James Preston at a march against xenophobia in Durban.Picture: Supplied

Dumisani Mbona is proof that people can rise above a tough childhood and seemingly insurmountable circumstances.

He went from living on the street and working odd jobs to owning his own events coordination company.

Mbona is a striving entrepreneur who took long strides to achieve his dream of one day owning a business.

His dream was formed in the dark corners and cold surfaces of cardboard boxes and cement floors.

In his formative years, he envisioned a life for himself that was beyond the streets.

The 33 year old has survived a life of abuse, abduction and abandonment.

He grew up in Durban with a single mother.

His mother worked on farms in Underberg, KwaZulu-Natal.

One day things took a turn for the worse when his estranged father abducted him from his primary school.

“Living with an abusive father was my personal hell.

“Eventually I just couldn’t take it. I ran away and never looked back.

“I moved from place to place, picking up odd jobs. The first job I ever had was in Grade 6.

“I did gardening as a means to make money and survive,” he said.

A family in Durban eventually took him in and gave him shelter and food.

“Through it all, the homelessness, joining a gang, living for days on end without food, I never missed a day of school.

“The odd jobs I worked on the weekend allowed me to make enough money to pay for my schooling,” he said.

Despite his rough background, Mbona is working hard to make his business a success.

“I started the business, UVim Events and Marketing, in 2013 with a vision to show off unique and talented artists in an environment that is family-friendly and entertaining,” he said.

UVim Events and Marketing started when he met a Norwegian angel investor at a church organisation.

Christopher Tonnosse decided to give him R30000 to help him start the business.

“I told him about my idea to start this events company that would showcase artists and musicians in a family-friendly environment.

“He believed in my idea and decided to invest in the start up,” Mbona said.

Mbona moved from Durban to Midrand to pursue his dream of opening an events company.

He believes the sacrifices he has made have allowed him to “step into who he was meant to be”.

“The business is still in its early stages but I have given up a lot to make it work and I am willing to give it everything I have,” he said.

Mbona’s business caters to different demographics and age groups.

He hires entertainers and venues where he organises events that people can attend for a fee.

He said that he is most proud of his event, Diva Status, which will cater specifically to women.

The event aims to celebrate women and also shine a light on the inequalities that still exist.

Diva Status has also attracted the attention of American television host of Diva Talk Tonite and recording artist Kelda Williams. She will be performing at Mbona’s event in August.

“It was surreal to receive an email from Kelda. She was keen on being a part of my event. I couldn’t believe it,” he said.

Another project close to his heart is his next event which is aimed at giving back to the homeless.

Music with Friends will be a live music show during Easter.

The show will raise funds to buy food and clothing for the homeless.

“I have not forgotten where I came from.

“I know the struggles that homeless people go through every day and this is why I have to dedicate this project to this cause.

“Easter is a time often spent with family and I know what it is like to not have anyone,” he said.

Mbona is scouting for homeless shelters that the event will benefit.

The journey of an entrepreneur is long, hard and often lonely journey therefore Mbona believes that entrepreneurs are born and not made.

“Remaining consistent and committed to a business requires something more than just money.

“You must want to keep at it and make it a success and that is not something that can be taught,” Mbona said.

“Building your life as an entrepreneur is not as easy choice.

“You are waiting for your life to begin while others are busy living theirs.

“I could have easily got a 9-5 job for the stability, especially after living on the streets for so many years, but this is what I was born to do,” he said.

Uvim Events want to give a platform to local and international musicians in the entertainment industry.

Mbona won the best business pitch award at an event by The Hook-up Dinner in Durban.

The dinner is hosted by a company that connects start-up companies to potential investors.

“The unique selling point in my business is that we group different types of entertainers under one roof.

“We also provide a space for families to come and be entertained. I am proud of that,” he said.

Thelma Ngoma