How I Made It After Matric With No Degree


Zinhle Cingo (27) is a mother of two who runs various businesses to sustain herself and her family. Like many other young people who matriculate but never get a chance to study further, lack of financial support held her from her dream of pursuing a career in medicine. She told The Daily Vox how venturing into business has helped her keep her life together.

I don’t come from a very educated family but I was raised in a business background. I come from a family of hustlers. Just like me, my mother never got a chance to go to tertiary but she hustled as she grew up seeing her own mother hustling. During that time, wherever she went she would take me with.

My family originally came from East London in Eastern Cape but I grew up here in Magabheni (a small township in the south of Durban). Although my mother had no formal education and a job, she was able to take me to a multi racial school because she wanted what’s best for me. I wasn’t different from other kids, I had what they also had.

Zinhle Cingo

Having grown up around people who are business minded, I also started developing a business sense at a young age. At school I was selling chips so that I can have extra money, and I’d make about R 200 a day, which was a lot for a school girl.

When I was doing grade seven, my mother passed away and things weren’t going well. I had to continue selling chips to sustain myself with bus fair money and other necessities. I have since been someone who runs a business.

I had a dream of going to university after completing matric. My mother’s dream was for me to pursue a career in medicine and growing up, that’s what I had told myself I’d do, but when I failed matric I couldn’t. I had to hustle so that I can go back to school and complete my matric, which I did. After I had completed matric I didn’t have enough financial support to go further my studies, so I decided to start a business.

I currently run different businesses; I have a tuckshop that I run with my partner, I also run a fast food business, I sell clothes and linen, and hair. With the money that I make out of my businesses I am able to sustain myself and my family. I have a younger brother who recently completed matric, whose fees were being paid by me.

My life has taught me that just like not everyone makes it in matric, not everyone gets to make it to tertiary. But it’s not the end of the world, one can still make it in life. Most people who are successful today had to work as domestic workers somewhere so that they can make money to fund their tertiary education. It’s a matter of how willing one is to make it in life.

Also, not everyone will be an employee in their lifetime. Some of us are meant to become employers, venturing into business, no matter how small it is. It is a great option. It’s not easy but it’s doable.

Even though I’ve been into business for the past five years I still encounter challenges. There is competition, and working in a small township like hours is even worse but we make it work. Running the kind of a business I’m into currently is not my only focus, I intend to expand but there are still challenges.

The biggest challenge is not having enough information or knowledge on how to run the business, how to manage finances. I’m aware that there are programmes that deal with helping small businesses but the problem is the lack of information in which doors to knock on.

I wish there were awareness workshops around small businesses, such as those educating and informing people about diseases such as TB. This is just as important and would help many people who wish to embark on a business journey, but lack resources such as a start up capital.

Having funding or investors would be great but I’m not the kind of a person who believes in handouts and being spoon-fed, so information and knowledge from people who are already in the business sector would come very handy.

One day I hope to own my own business outlet where people would know where to find me if they need my service. I wish government would provide more workshops on small businesses in every corner like they do with education and health.