Dlala Nje is a social enterprise that conducts walking tours of Yeoville and Hillbrow to allow people to experience the lifestyle of these areas, and 60% of the profits go to the running of a youth centre in Ponte City, which provides education and entertainment for the children from the building. We chatted to James Mangunza, a tour facilitator with Dlala Nje, about how the business came into being.
The company was founded in 2012 by Nickolaus Bauer, a journalist, and Michael Luptak, an accountant. Nikolaus had been sent here to do a story and though didn’t find that story, he fell in love with the space, and started renting a flat here. He told Michael about it and Michael also moved into a flat. They launched the youth centre as an arcade, but they weren’t managing to cover the rent for the space every month. Then, at a screening of Africa Shafted, someone asked whether they would do a walking tour of Hillbrow. A couple of weeks later, 45 people had signed up. It grew from there, and the tours now fund the youth centre.
Why did you choose this area to set up shop?
They came to the area first, and the business followed.
How did you find your premises?
Dlala Nje’s office on the 51st floor was Nikolaus’s apartment. But because it’s the first stop on the tour and he had to make it “tour ready” every weekend morning, he eventually moved out and now we run our bookings from there.
It’s better working at the top of Ponte than trying to concentrate down at the youth centre, where it’s noisy and busy with the kids all around. It overlooks Hillbrow, so we’re right in the middle of our community. And of course, it doubles up as a tour destination in its own right.
Who are your neighbours?
The community are our neighbours! In Ponte itself, we have the residents, but in the broader Hillbrow area we have the Hillbrow Theatre and Ellis Park Stadium– and we take the kids to all the Lions games and run a sports clinic with the Lions Rugby Club.
What are the shop rental/sales prices like in this area?
We rent the two-bedroom unit that we use as our offices for R6,000, which is the standard residential rate.
What’s your shop footprint?
On average we do five tours a week, with about 25 people per tour. And in the community centre, we’ll get more than 100 kids every day of the weekend.
We’re looking to open a teenage centre to focus more on the teenagers in the community.
Do you operate online as well?
Yes, you can book tours on our website.
What’s your most popular service?
Our Hillbrow tour do really well. From time to time, we also introduce new special edition tours, one of which is the Berea Sights and Sounds tour, which has been very popular.
082 550 8615 / 011 402 2373
Words: Georgina Guedes
Images: Ter Hollmann & Supplied