Seeing opportunities through hardships and actually turning them into a learning curve is what made Mr. Levi Mguni the serial entrepreneur he is today. The founder and CEO of Levingston Student Accommodation, a company which is 100% black owned with over 300 patrons occupying its premises. He is also the Chief Executive Officer of Compubooks Bookstore. Recently in 2020, he established Thuto Stationery which is a South African stationery brand, The Village Mag had a quick Q&A session with the soft spoken businessman from Ga-Matimpule/Troya village in Mpumalanga to find out more about him and his business.

The founder and CEO of Thuto Stationery, Levi Mguni is a serial entrepreneur who continuously come up with new business ideas. Image: Supplied
  1. Briefly tell us about yourself.

Professionally, I am the founder and CEO of Thuto Stationery, a proudly, uniquely South African stationery brand. I have been in business for 10 years now, servicing the education sector. Over the    years I have introduced solution driven concepts such as Rent Secure, which is a personalized rental bridging facility for university students.

On a more personal level, those who know me would describe me as an innovator and a risk-taker. I am a loving and caring father for my two lovely kids.

2. What is it that you do for a living?

I am currently the Chief Executive Officer of Compubooks, which is a forward-looking retail bookstore that caters to students, from primary level through to university. The company was established in 2016, and our stores provides a diverse range of academic stationery, textbooks, educational gadgets such as laptops, tables and the like. We also cater to students living with disabilities, by supplying assistive devices such as braille readers, OCR, wheelchairs, hearing aids and more, which we as a team are really proud about.

I am also the Founder of Thuto Stationery, a new, bold, colorful, and exciting desk stationery brand. It is the most recent passion project in a life filled with them. I started Thuto Stationery in 2020, and the company is a leading manufacturer of quality-driven product lines that are made by Africans, for Africans. We want to leave our mark of artistry on the world, and, by living and breathing our passion for education and culture, want to constantly expand the size of that mark.

3. When did the entrepreneurial bug bite you?

I was entrepreneurial from a very early age! I remember selling pieces of Vienna for 10c a piece to my friends in primary school to earn money to help my family. I managed to turn that entrepreneurial spirit into a drive to succeed that has served me well. My second business was Kota in Soshanguve, and my third business was Masihlalisane.

4. How do you define success as a young entrepreneur especially in these tough economic times?

I think that if you are creating something that’s not just about yourself, that gives back and actually makes a difference to people’s lives, then you’ll go very far.

5. Growing up, did you always know that you wanted to become a businessman?

I didn’t necessarily know that I wanted to be an entrepreneur, but I definitely knew that I wanted to help my family, and later, the people around me. I did have a vision of myself in an office chair that twirled from quite an early age, though!

6. Throughout the journey of self-discovery, what has been the most difficult obstacle that you had to overcome?

Coming from my background, it’s difficult to work your way out of poverty. It’s like having barriers in front of you that other people don’t have to deal with. But in the end, I think it made me hungrier for success, and more passionate about making it easier for other people facing the same barriers.

7. Where would you like to see Thuto Stationeries in the next few years?

I want Thuto Stationery to be the stationery brand that South Africans love and trust, because it’s a South African brand through and through. As always, we will see what the future brings! My short term goal and objective is to create a form of a rewards program that ultimately will transform into a school or learnership program that focuses on entrepreneurship!

8. In your opinion is the government and South Africans in general doing enough to support local entrepreneurs especially now in the era of the coronavirus pandemic?

I think we could always do more to support entrepreneurs! Seriously, though, I think that South Africa needs to support home grown entrepreneurs as a country and as a people. Sometimes South Africans think that because something is from overseas, it’s better. But they don’t know us, they don’t know what we need – I think South African owned businesses and products aren’t just good for the economy, I think they’re good for South Africans, because we live here and we can see the problems people have that need to be fixed.

9. Any last words to aspiring entrepreneurs?

Just go for it………

Growing up in hardships does not mean you have to be permanently trapped in that life. Levi Mguni is a living proof that you can achieve anything in this life. Image: Facebook


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