Case Study: Fareast Mercantile Co. Limited
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Advanced wireless connectivity solution supports growth of local entrepreneurial business and its vision to empower communities
“Today, everyone can have their own Internet café where they are – at home, in small businesses and in schools. By targeting townships and areas close to main towns and setting up a reseller model for LTE-A and other connectivity services, Cyber Influx can create jobs and build communities.” Onesimus Malatji, Owner, Cyber Influx (Pty) Ltd
What started as a setback turned into an opportunity for entrepreneur Onesimus Malatji, when theft of equipment providing WiFi connectivity compelled him to invest in a different option: 3G. This enabled Cyber Influx to provide users with quality connectivity without them having to purchase expensive hardware. Today, thanks to LTE-Advanced from Internet Solutions, Cyber Influx can connect even more users over our extensive and reliable network, essentially putting an Internet café in every home, school or business that needs it.
Cyber Influx was established by Onesimus Malatji in 2012. Onesimus began his entrepreneurial venture in the technology business in 2002, running an Internet café in Ga-Rankuwa, a township north of Pretoria. This business was initially a great success, as there was a high demand for access to computers and the Internet, commodities that were expensive and therefore out of reach for many.
As new technology entered the market, these cost barriers fell away. People now wanted to connect to the Internet from their homes or places of work. Seeing a new opportunity in wireless solutions, Onesimus set up Cyber Influx to address the demand for data in townships and related communities. “One of our initial struggles was in obtaining a licence to operate as a telecommunications business,” he explains. “We also had no background in running this kind of business, so we learned everything on the go and had to overcome a lot of challenges in the beginning.”
Onesimus says that thorough research and a willingness to learn were crucial when he decided to tap into the telecoms market – and are an essential part of his business to this day. “We sell different services to what people are used to getting from mobile providers, and we recommend the services that are suitable for what they need. I had to do lots of research and reading to make a success of the business,” he says. “I believe research will never stop as new technology is entering the market all the time. But what I always tell people is telecommunication is the university of IT. Through dedication and focus, I know all the jargon in telecoms!”
The Cyber Influx journey has not been a lonely one and Onesimus is quick to acknowledge the support of industry experts and mentors along the way: “There were great people who played a role in our journey - Warney Stucky, Theo Treffer, Mark Bower, Juan Perrie Foucher, Ashwald Nchabeleng, Jonas Monaisa and the late Zola Daniel Mahobe, to name a few.”
Having obtained its Electronic Communications Network Service (ECNS) licence in November 2014, Cyber Influx moved into selling last mile fibre connectivity, investing in a solar-powered WiFi tower to provide the service. But the business took a huge knock when some of the equipment was stolen and the tower could no longer operate.
Undeterred, Onesimus investigated new ways to bring connectivity to the areas he wanted to serve – at less risk and cost to his business – and found 3G to be the solution. “Selling SIM cards was a better option because customers don’t want to invest in fixed routers,” Onesimus explains. “The hardware is expensive, and you still have to install and maintain it. The model of providing the hardware as part of a contract doesn’t work for customers who are looking for a month-by-month commitment only.”
The LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) solution from Internet Solutions has provided an opportunity for Cyber Influx to offer its customers the best of both worlds: fast, reliable and affordable connectivity that requires only a SIM card and a portable LTE-A router to connect over the Rain LTE-A network.
“With LTE-A, there are no landlines, no cables, no contracts, no waiting periods, and the connectivity is much faster and cheaper,” says Onesimus. “This is the kind of solution that fits into our distribution model, as we can reach individuals, businesses, schools, farms – anyone who needs reliable connectivity at a good price.”
The Rain LTE-A network is constantly expanding its coverage and can upgrade spectrum to a tower to maintain quality in the case of high demand. This is good news for Onesimus: “Now, we can reach out to many communities in places where there is currently no infrastructure.”
Onesimus acknowledges that it is very difficult for small, independent operators to break into the telecoms industry. “But we can achieve growth through a company like Internet Solutions. The have innovative products that help us break into the market and grow our business further.”
Cyber Influx has plans to market LTE-A and related products in townships that are close to major urban areas, in essence turning households, schools and small businesses into their own Internet cafes, and giving people access to connectivity that makes a difference to their daily lives. The company also aims to set up a reseller model that will help people earn an income and build their communities. “We need many people to do this,” says Onesimus.
We’re sure that this determined entrepreneur will find them.