Township Art Entrepreneur Reveals How To Find Business Opportunities In The Midst Of The Biggest Challenges

Heavy Chef spoke to Abongile Salli, an art entrepreneur who aims to uplift the township creative community by identifying latent artistic talent and finding a home for their work in African hotels and restaurants. Abongile Salli is 24yrs old, born and bred in Cape Town and complimented his grade 12 in Thandokhulu High School by graduating from Cape Peninsula University of Technology, majoring in Sport Management.

Abongile, how did you get started? 

As a young black creative, I have found that being the age of 23 has placed me in a unique and crucial position, especially in the culturally rich hub that is Khayelitsha. As a result, I have access to the creative people that would have been otherwise ignored due to the lack of access to the relevant platforms. I am surrounded  by black creative artist, however I have  seen that their talent remains unrecognised or, perhaps, they not yet been given the attention they deserve. As a result, I registered eKasi Gallery, where I give them space to showcase their work. I was raised by a single mother who passed on my first day of high school 2008. I’m a person who doesn’t give up easily and I believe in everyone’s dream is valid. I love acting, marketing and motivating others - and this drives me.

Abongile, what made you want to become an entrepreneur and start eKasi?  
As a person who is not shy to speak seeing my colleagues being rejected in many Art Galleries or seeing them being on the contract that the not happy in motivated to Start eKasi gallery so that I can represent them. 

Why art? What is it about art that drives you to serve the artistic community?

My Godmother is a painter and she sells paintings for a living. Growing up, I used to be around her and I used to paint, but I was not good - even though I loved painting. She always inspired me with her work and that is a skill to her no one can take away. Art is beautiful and therapeutic - it gives freedom from one’s mind.

Besides your Godmother, who inspires you?

Vusi Thembekwayo, primarily because he’s from the townships and he conquered all the obstacles that you face in the townships. Despite those obstacles, he's one one the most successful entrepreneur in my country.

What is the hardest part about running your own business?

Definitely, lack of resources and finance to fund your new venture. It's really, really difficult. 

We agree Abongile! What do you need right now in order to succeed?

What I need is that one person who will believe in what I do and open doors for me. For example, someone who has access to hotels and restaurants and can introduce me to good people. I am currently doing my in-service training at a hotel. While doing this, I saw that paintings and the hospitality industry can merge well.

What lessons can you give anyone out there who wants to also follow their dream and start working for themselves?

Do what you passionate about! If you start a business to make money without passion, you will not be successful. Love what you do and money will follow. 

To get in touch with Abongile, email him directly here. 

Artwork: The ballad artist, Themba Mpangeni, and canvas painting by Ntsikelelo Magcwaca.

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