Book iBhoni is as good an example as you’ll find of turning one’s passion into a positive enterprise. Mpumelelo Mtintso, its founder and marketing director, developed a savvy and altruistic business model: he offers discounted bicycle tours in exchange for books, which are donated to schools and libraries across his community.
Through this model, Mtintso has found a way to build a business, inspire healthy lifestyles through cycling and exercise, and give directly back to his community. He says, “My proudest moment was being named as part of the Top 10 Best Bicycle Tour Operators in Soweto by TripAdvisor, being listed on Airbnb Experiences and having my bicycle-tour company associated with the South African professional cycling team, CyclingBox Racing Team. There are too many proud moments to just mention one.”
As for surprises encountered along the way, the answer is sadly not unexpected: “Covid-19, what more can one say? This caused the collapse in the tourism industry that no one saw coming.” However, Mtintso and Book iBhoni remain flexible and optimistic, adjusting their model to provide courier services in the areas they know best until the tourism industry picks up again.
His advice to young entrepreneurs is one of patience. “Give yourself time to plan. Do not rush: entrepreneurship is a journey,” Mtintso says. “There are a lot of returns that come with better planning and research before embarking on changes in the business.”
Even with setbacks such as the pandemic, the legacy Mtintso would like to leave remains on track: “[I’d like to see] greater social impact, with job creation and the elevation of small businesses in communities like Soweto, [as well as] the increased awareness around literacy for children and adults along with the benefits of cycling and bicycles as a mode of transport and business.”