Local entrepreneurs started a niche toilet hiring business

The hiring of portable toilets is a business model that is gaining traction in South Africa as more entrepreneurs are entering the sector.

By Yolanda Wessels

South Africa is well known for hosting world-class events such as conferences, exhibitions, concerts, and festivals. According to a report by Grant Thornton, the events industry in South Africa was worth over R93 billion in 2018, with the sector supporting over 200,000 jobs.


The hiring of portable toilets is a business model that is gaining traction in South Africa as more entrepreneurs are entering the sector. Two business-minded friends Mabala Kwakwa and Silas Mashile started a toilet hiring business called Chillers on Wheels in Polokwane because they saw a gap in the market.


“We started off by renting out fridges for events and as the company grew, we noticed that event companies were in desperate need of toilet hiring services,” said Mabala. After in-depth market research, the duo decided to branch into toilet hiring.


Today their services are in high demand because their toilets are rented out by music festivals, construction sites, mines, schools, informal settlements, and private events. The business’s highlights include providing portable toilets for an event attended by President Cyril Ramaphosa when he was in Limpopo.


Their business specializes in the renting out of portable luxurious flushing toilets with LED night lights, soap dispensers, toilet paper and freshwater basins. They also provide a cleaner to maintain the cleanliness of the toilets throughout the event.


Supporting small local businesses is important.


Small businesses play a vital role in communities because they create jobs and improve the local economy. One of the business’s proudest achievements is creating employment. “We employ 65 people, and this has a positive impact on the local economy and improves the standard of living for our community,” said Mabala.


According to the University of the Western Cape, in South Africa 70-80% of small businesses fail in the first five years – than elsewhere in the world.

Even though the business has been operating for many years, they are still facing challenges such as theft and access to new markets. The business has grown over the years, and they now have 15 luxury toilets and 1500 portable toilets.


“Running a toilet hiring business is expensive because they are high maintenance and need to be serviced regularly,” said Mabala. Maintaining the toilets is a cost that the business must endure.

The entrepreneurs run the business together; Mabala does sales and marketing while Silas focuses on administration and the running of the business. Giving back to their community is close to their hearts and they want to be positive role models.

“We would like young entrepreneurs to know that they can do whatever they put their minds to. They don’t have to wait for the government’s help, “said Mabala. They are proud of their successful self-funded business because they have learnt to be resilient and disciplined.

This article was first published in Rise Africans Newspaper 

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Mabala Kwakwa and Silas Mashileis are participants on the SAB Foundation’s Tholoana Enterprise Programme, an 18-month business accelerator powered by Fetola which supports the lasting success of businesses from across South Africa, particularly those owned by women, youth and people living with disabilities, and those in township and rural areas.

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