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Boom box for hire

By South African Renewable Energy Council (SAREC) on 21 February 2017
Jayce McKenzie’s is a local from Touws River, one of those forgotten little transport towns in the Karoo which once serviced the railways, before it was throttled back in the early 1990s. Jayce’s business has grown under the business incubation scheme that is a part of a development initiative associated with the new solar power plant that opened up near the town in December 2014.
When a 44 megawatt solar plant turned on its lights just outside the Karoo town of Touws River in December 2014, a percentage of the revenue it earned from selling electricity to the national grid immediately started trickling through into the town’s sluggish economy. Leonie Joubert visited some of the businesses that are part of an enterprise incubation scheme.

‘Nice colour,’ someone quips at Jayce McKenzie’s sporty, burned-orange sedan, its metallic finish shimmering like scales under the Karoo sun. Low-profile mags give it a predatory edge. 

‘I’m a nice colour!’ he fires back, flashing gilt-edged teeth. 

The 37-year-old is a local from Touws River, one of those forgotten little transport towns in the Karoo which once serviced the railways, and now has the big rigs thundering past on the national highway, weighted down under their freight. 

He says it’s his passion for music (pronounced with the Cape’s quaint inflection: passin, rather than pashion) that got him into the sound equipment hiring business about eight or nine years ago.

JC Sounds. 

‘Oh, anyone who needs sound - churches, the rugby club, parties. Mostly parties. And weddings!’ 

About two years ago, Jayce heard through the local municipality that there were a series of business incubation initiatives starting up. Gathered in a town hall meeting, they were given an overview: the two initiatives were to be funded with the income earned by the new solar power plant that had opened up out of town in 2014. The plant’s development branch, Knowledge Pele, was going to start up two programmes: an entry-level enterprise development plan to help take aspirant entrepreneurs through the ‘ideas’ phase of developing and conceptualising a business over a six-month period; and a two-year programme to inject skills into existing businesses so they can run more effectively.

JC Sounds was one of the first seven businesses to be selected for the second programme. 

What has Jayce got out of the collaboration?

‘My business is doing well now, everything’s expanded, man,’ he drawls from inside the shadow of his baseball cap. ‘They bought me some equipment. I learned how to do my admin, because I didn’t do that before, like filing and invoicing and stuff. And I learned about management…’ 

He is running late to pick up his child from school, he says, and needs to get going. But he’s keen to talk about his operation. 

‘Ja, I play all over, De Doorns, Lainsburg, wherever there’s a need.’ 

What’s next for him? 

‘I need a stage,’ he says, ticking items off a mental list, ‘and some lighting. See, I’ve got this gig in Robertson next Saturday.’

Expanding to have a stage and lighting, on top of the sound gear, would take JC Sounds up a notch or two. 

And, does he play the decks? You know, that whole DJ thing? 

‘Oh yes, I play as well,’ he grins, flashing gold again. 

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