The Sunday Mail
“IF you want to change the mindset of a people, catch them young.” This popular line aptly describes Amos Gutu’s situation, who is already an employer at just 15 years of age. After being encouraged by his brother to venture into the brick-making business a year ago, Amos, a start-up Kadoma-based entrepreneur, is not looking back.
At a time when boys his age are indulging in the usual adolescent entrapments, Amos is investing much of his time in growing his small, but steadily growing brick-making business.
The teenager is one of the hundreds of mostly grown up men earning a living through moulding bricks at an open space in Mashumavale, a sprawling suburb which is located on the eastern peripheries of the city of Kadoma. Although his business is still in its infancy, the youngster’s early entrance into the business world and his determination makes his story interesting.
Amos. a Form One student, is playing his part in changing attitudes in his community. At his age, he produces bricks that are used in the construction industry and has also created employment opportunities for men his father’s age.
After the death of his father, when he was only eight, his brother Shelton assumed the role of being the bread winner. Amos always accompanied Shelton to the brick fields during weekends and school holidays.
“When he was a little boy, he used to come here and simply watch us do our work. I often had to refrain him from stepping into the mud as he attempted to lift the heavy brick moulding machine,” recollected Shelton.
For Amos, 2018 marked a new chapter in his life as his brother finally allowed him to take part in the process of moulding bricks.
“I only taught him the basics and in no time, he elected to be independent. At first, I felt for him since I thought he would not withstand such hard labour,” said Shelton.
The determined youngster soldiered on as he single-handedly moulded 500 bricks every day. After producing 2 000 bricks, he then burned and sold them, marking the birth of a promising brick-making venture.
The enterprising youngster used the money that he realised from his first sale to hire part-time workers. As his workers moulded bricks, Amos concentrated on marketing the business as well as sourcing coal and water.
On average, Amos sells 5 000 bricks per week, with a thousand bricks selling for $220. But, despite his earnings, locals say Amos has remained the same shy and humble teenager, who dreams of becoming a pilot one day.
When The Sunday Mail Society descended on the brick fields last week, Amos had gone to meet some of his clients.
“He does not even have a cellphone, although he can afford one. He spends most of his income on growing his business and on his family’s daily needs. He uses some of the money to pay school fees. Some of the youngsters we work with are now delinquents, but Amos is a different kettle of fish,” said Bryn Sithole, whose business is adjacent to Amos’.
Speaking to Amos on his brother’s cellphone, the young entrepreneur said he ventured into the brick moulding business so that he could look after his mother and also pay his school fees.
“I was encouraged by my brother Shelton. At first, it was very hard, but I no longer mould the bricks, l now rely on hired labour,” said Amos.
His zeal and rare determination is worth celebrating. Amos has proven that it is never too early to get into business. lndeed in business, age is nothing but a number.
The world’s most successful teen entrepreneurs
If you have ever bought or sold a property in the UK and coiled back in horror at the exorbitant commission taken by the estate agent, then Akshay Ruparelia’s Doorsteps should be your next port of call.
As an industry disruptor in the mould of Uber and Airbnb, the online realtor charges clients just £99 (about $130) all in — regardless of the sale price. Despite selling an average of 30 properties a week and having his business valued at over £12 million ($15,7 million) in 2017, the 19-year-old Londoner remains grounded. He still lives at home so he can help his deaf parents. He successfully passed his A-Levels last year, while an offer from Oxford University has been deferred in order to focus on Doorsteps.
The story goes that, having been stung as a small child, Mikaila Ulmer learned about bees to overcome her fear of them. Few could have predicted what would follow, though, with the 13-year-old subsequently concocting the Me & the Bees lemonade brand (with the help of her parents, of course). Since then, Ulmer’s creation has far exceeded the typical front-lawn lemonade stand. In 2015, when she was just nine years old, an $11 million (£8,4 million) distribution deal was struck with US supermarket giants Whole Foods Market. While the Texas native continues to balance business, school and public speaking engagements, she has also demonstrated a clear capacity for forgiveness. And 10 percent of her brand’s proceeds are now donated to bee conservation charities.
A self-described “rare sneaker dealer”, Benjamin “Kickz” Kapelushnik is clearly living a life that most 19-year-old boys can only fantasise about. A quick glance of his Instagram, for instance, shows the Miami native in cahoots with a whole host of famous rappers and athletes, while luxury sports cars, wads of money and scantily-clad women also make regular appearances.
He is essentially a middleman for said celebrities in the acquisition and supply of highly coveted trainers. Kapelushnik is nothing if not versatile. His online store, SneakerDon, gives us access to his footwear inventory — bringing in over $1 million (£763 000) a year in the process, while a customised jewellery line is next up in the works.
A company CEO at the age of 13 and a self-made millionaire by 15, Rachel Zietz — through her hugely successful online sportswear company Gladiator Lacrosse — has seemingly achieved more in her formative years than many entrepreneurs manage in a lifetime.
As a noted lacrosse player herself, Zietz’s knowledge and passion shine through her products, while the Florida native has also been able to gain vital exposure through numerous media and television appearances. Her business earned over $2 million (£1,5 million) in 2018, while Zietz herself is currently studying economics at Princeton University.
A high school drop-out that emigrated to the other side of the world aged 15, Ben Pasternak created his first successful mobile app while bored in biology lessons. Since then, he has built several successful online projects, including the teenager-targeted buy-and-sell platform, Flogg, as well as the hugely popular video chat platform Monkey, which generated nearly $2 million (£1,5 million) in venture capital and sold last year to rivals HOLLA for an undisclosed fee. Now residing in New York City, the 19-year-old is in the planning stages of his next project. — Online sources