Youth Month: How four young South Africans are making their start-up business a success

Francis Djuimo, Sipho Sithole and Andre Young-Adkins were place third in the Youth Innovation Challenge of 2020 at Innovate Durban, and won R15000. Katleo Rantle was unable to attend the event. Picture: Supplied

Francis Djuimo, Sipho Sithole and Andre Young-Adkins were place third in the Youth Innovation Challenge of 2020 at Innovate Durban, and won R15000. Katleo Rantle was unable to attend the event. Picture: Supplied

Published Jun 20, 2023


Durban - Four young South Africans who are trying their hand at business have a solid piece of advice for youngsters who want to follow suit.

“Success is not always measured by immediate financial rewards. By investing in your skills and serving others with your abilities, you are building a foundation for future opportunities and personal growth,” Royaume du Djuimo founder Francis Djuimo said.

Djuimo, 24, Sipho Sithole, 28, Katleo Rantle, 23 and Andre Young-Adkins, 22, are working at Royaume du Djuimo (Royaume) a Deep Tech start-up based in Pinetown.

The company aims to solve client problems by developing robots, machines, devices, and information or data systems from the fields of Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and the Internet of Things.

All four men graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Information & Communications Technology from the Durban University of Technology.

Djuimo said they won pitching and innovation competitions in Innovate Durban and GoodWall and used their winnings to start their business.

Speaking more about their business model Djuimo said: “Our approach begins with a deep-dive problem analysis, where we engage closely with the client to gather detailed requirements and specifications for the solution.

“The life cycle of our projects typically involves several stages, including design, development, and testing.

“The duration of this cycle can vary depending on the complexity of the problem, ranging from a few months to a year.

The Smart Inflow Meter. Picture: Supplied

“Throughout the process, we maintain constant communication and collaboration with the client, ensuring that their evolving needs and any necessary changes are incorporated.

“Once the solution is successfully developed and the client is satisfied with our service, it transitions into a marketable product.

“To identify potential customers, we leverage the insights gained from the problem analysis and conduct thorough market research.

“This helps us determine if there is a demand for the solution among other individuals or organizations facing similar challenges.

“By following this approach, we not only provide customise solutions for our clients but also have the opportunity to transform successful projects into marketable products.”

Djuimo described the start-up as “mildly successful.”

He said in the next few years they expected Royaume to expand its products and services, work on large projects with major entities in the energy and agricultural industries, and contribute their research to private and public institutions for the benefit of KZN and South Africa.

With water issues a major concern in SA, the company’s flagship project is the Smart Inflow Meter.

“This is a smart water meter with machine intelligence that reads and sends the house's water usage to the resident either by the receiver or an app via an internet connection.

“Also, the intelligent machine can detect abnormal water usage, either high water consumption or leakages, that is outside normal water usage. This alerts the resident and closes off the flow at main water pipe to reduce loss, and allow the resident manage their water use and costs.”

Djuimo said one of their other projects was sports-related.

“The Afric-Speed cone, is a smart cone that records and summaries speed, timing, and awareness of the sport player in training, more importantly generating information that can slightly improve the efficiency of the player. This and other additions can help players track their performance and progress.

“Both projects are bound to be marketable-products ready before 2024.”

Despite the ongoing youth unemployment crisis, he firmly believes that starting a business was the right decision.

“As a person who lives by the Word of God and abides by Kingdom principles, I have faith that within every problem, God provides individuals with the gifts and abilities to create solutions. It is our responsibility to hone our skills and acquire new ones to benefit our families and communities.

“I have come to understand that neglecting people's needs and failing to solve problems can lead to their voices being unheard and their potential squandered. In some cases, it can even result in chaos and unrest, as we witnessed in 2021.

“Recognizing this, I believe that as solution providers, we have the ability to bring about positive change, even if it starts on a small scale. By gradually building upon our successes, we can empower, enable, and equip people through the solutions we develop.”

Djuimo said a quote from the late Dr. Myles Munroe resonated with him: "You can never change anything if you're willing to tolerate it."

“It serves as a reminder that when we repeatedly witness the same problems and neglect within our own community, we cannot simply stand by.

“We have been blessed with the skills acquired through education and life experiences, and it is our duty to put them to good use in serving our people through this business. Despite the risks and losses we may encounter along the way, we are willing to take them in order to make a positive impact.”