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Castrol Celebrates Youth Day with the Official Launch of Kya Sands Independent Workshop

What better way to mark 16th June and Youth Month than by celebrating the progress of a young entrepreneur, Thabiso Mkhize of Mumbo Repairs? Today, Castrol officially launched the latest Castrol-branded Mumbo Repairs workshop in Kya Sands, located in the north of Johannesburg.

“This is actually the second Castrol-branded Mumbo Repairs workshop—there’s already one operating in Durban. Thabiso is an inspirational entrepreneur who is well on his way to building a significant company,” says Melanie van Straaten, Sales Director at Castrol Southern Africa “We’re thrilled to be associated with a businessman of his calibre and look forward to journeying alongside him into the future.”

Mkhize was born and raised in the rural areas around Greytown in KwaZulu-Natal. Mumbo, the name he chose for his business, is his clan name, anchoring traditional Zulu culture in a thoroughly modern setting. He always knew he wanted to work with his hands, and when his dream of studying electrical engineering didn’t materialise, he was fortunate enough to obtain an apprenticeship with Hyundai.

Once he completed his apprenticeship, he couldn’t find a job, so he began servicing and repairing vehicles at home, also offering a mobile service. He briefly opened a workshop in Durban but had to close it after multiple break-ins, continuing to work from home. Then COVID struck, and with extra time on his hands, he began his meteoric rise as an influencer on social media channels, most notably TikTok.

“There just wasn’t anybody in South Africa offering advice on how to repair a car or what to look out for when buying one,” he says. Before long, he had 150,000 followers. He had also begun making monthly visits to Joburg to service clients there, many of whom he gained via social media.

He started looking for premises in Gauteng but couldn’t find what he was looking for until he found his current premises in Jacobs, Durban, which have now been open for 14 months. During this period, Castrol approached him to become one of its branded independent workshops.

He continued his monthly visits to Joburg, constantly on the lookout for suitable premises. One driver of this strategy was the demographic analysis of his TikTok following.

“With 14% of my followers in KZN, I had a three-week waiting list for my Durban workshop. That made me realize that with over 70% of them in Gauteng, there was a clear business case for a branch here,” Mkhize says. Just at the right moment, he located the premises in Kya Sands, close to the majority of his existing customers, and began trading two months ago.

“Partnering with Castrol was a good move for me. It gives vehicle owners great peace of mind to know that their vehicles are getting the best oil, and it builds trust in the Mumbo Repairs brand too,” Mkhize says.

While he’s totally focused on building up his business, he still finds time to help community members who have bad luck with their vehicles. A recent example was Aselondwe Mtimandze, a Durban woman who bought a vehicle for her 30th  birthday, only for it to break down. Getting no help from the dealer or the finance company, she was rescued by Mumbo Repairs. Mkhize heard about her problem and had the car towed to his workshop, where it was repaired free of charge.

Mtimandze calls him a “good Samaritan” in a Facebook post and praises his dedication and professionalism. “The guy is a legend…I am overjoyed; words are not enough to show how grateful I am,” she wrote.

Mkhize says that getting finance was his biggest challenge. He was unsuccessful in obtaining funding from the numerous government entrepreneur-support schemes. “As an entrepreneur, I’ve been impressed by the readiness with which the private sector offers help.”

Overall, he advises would-be entrepreneurs to remain true to themselves, give their best, and be patient. “Rome wasn’t built in a day—just look after your customers, and they will look after you,” he says. “It may take time.”

A current challenge is the need to open a second Gauteng workshop to cut down the long waiting lists at the Kya Sands operation. A challenge is finding good mechanics. On the one hand, he says existing mechanics tend to be old school and so are hard to reach using digital channels, so he’s had to start using traditional recruitment agencies. More importantly, perhaps, he is using his social-media channels to encourage young people to consider mechanics as a career, thus hopefully building up the pipeline of potential recruits.

“Castrol is proud of what Thabiso has achieved, and we’re always on the lookout for independent workshops run by entrepreneurs of this calibre,” concludes Melanie. “If you’re the owner of an independent workshop and want to be considered for a partnership with Castrol, do reach out to us at [email protected]  —we’d love to hear from you.”