Mpumelelo Mfula

Founder, Returning Home to Create

With his honours degree in political studies behind him and at least six months’ worth of job-seeking ahead of him (if his social circle was to be believed), Mpumelelo Mfula used his last R2 000 to secure a domain name, customise a blog template and take the first steps towards creating an online retail space for emerging African streetwear brands.

The rest, as they say, is history. A year (and a great deal of effort) later, the result was the extremely successful Returning Home to Create (RHTC). It stocks exclusively African-owned brands that are authentic to today’s space and time, and “look fresh”.

Mfula’s foray into online retail is about more than simply running a successful digital store, however. He is driven by the concept of encouraging African people of all ages to take the initiative to develop structures that allow them to be the main beneficiaries of their own culture and ideas.

“We all need to recognise and play our role in a constructive eco-system that will strengthen us as a people. That is how I believe we can encourage social progression and leave less space for exploitation and various forms of oppression,” says Mfula.

Outside of his online retailing endeavours, he has also run a series of workshops entitled “Let’s Play Outside” that encourage RHTC’s customers and other participants to explore a creative, alternative approach to their personal goals, with the objective of beating the odds young Africans face today.

Each workshop was delivered as a “couch session” with various pioneers across different disciplines, who shared their own stories about their individual trajectories to success and more specifically, how a creative, alternative approach to things contributed to their success.

Looking forward, Mfula says he would like to see more young Africans create relevant solutions to genuine African problems.

“It begins by starting something and giving ourselves the opportunity to develop to a point where we can define African innovation and what it means to be authentically African in any setting,” he explains.

And somehow he’s finding time to do even more. His latest project, The Playground, creates customised furniture and mobile, multifunctional stalls for hire, democratising premium presentation by making it affordable for individuals, companies and organisations. — Kerry Haggard

Twitter: @frypanmfula