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ENTREPRENEUR: Co-founder of ReWare Nothando Moleketi
The market for pre-owned handsets has become huge in SA. Used-phone business ReWare entered the industry at just the right time
Good entrepreneurship is all about finding the right gap. And Nothando Moleketi seems to have done just that. The co-founder of ReWare — which refurbishes and sells pre-owned cellphones — has entrenched herself in an area of the industry that is still growing exponentially.
Moleketi started her company purely as a cellphone buy-back business called Zwipit in 2014. She and co-founder Felix Martin-Aguilar, who is ReWare’s CEO, identified a gap in the handset market fuelled by the demand for affordable, high-quality smartphones from a trusted source.
Six months into their venture, they were inundated with queries from consumers who wanted to buy used phones. This feedback, along with the prolific trading of smartphones on local online classified websites and what they saw as the maturing of the used-phone market internationally gave them a clear signal that the market was ready, says Moleketi. The pair created ReWare to sell the phones.
Today ReWare supplies companies and individual consumers with pre-owned iPhone and Samsung Galaxy handsets at affordable prices with a one-year warranty, and nationwide delivery through its e-commerce platform.
ReWare is available at 160 Edcon stores (Edgars, Edgars Connect, Jet and Jet Mart outlets), up from the 14 stores at the company’s launch. "In addition to that, we supply a global wholesale market with our [non-ReWare branded refurbished] iPhones and trade-in used smartphones," Moleketi says.
ReWare is a young company and in many ways still a start-up, she says. It turned three this month. "We are entrepreneurial in our approach and extremely agile, which is required for a fast-growing business." The company was self-funded for two years, and in June last year became part of the Blue Label Telecoms group. The tie-up has given it access to working capital, a distribution network and expertise, says Moleketi.
The boost has allowed ReWare to grow from a team of two to 15 permanent staff members. The executive team was increased recently from two to three when a new COO was brought on board.
Moleketi is no stranger to business. She started out studying towards an accounting degree but found herself drawn to economics, and graduated from Wits University with a BCom in that subject.
She began her career as a member of Deloitte SA’s strategy and innovation team. Her interest in telecoms led her to Cell C, where she gained a wealth of operator, regulatory and mobile telecommunications knowledge.
"It is also where I met Martin-Aguilar, as I reported to him for a time at Cell C," she says.
"I come from a family where we were taught that anything we put our mind to is achievable with confidence, a strong sense of self and hard work," says Moleketi, who is the daughter of struggle veterans Jabu Moleketi and Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi.
Before forming ReWare, she was part of the team that launched restaurant information service Zomato SA, as associate vice-president of operations.
ReWare has expanded from an office in Johannesburg to include a warehouse and a bonded facility in the city, as well as a warehouse in Hong Kong. The company will launch commercial operations in Spain and Hong Kong next month.