Sharing the love: Valuable advice shared by some of South Africa’s most successful business visionaries

There’s a definite sense of camaraderie amongst the entrepreneurs and business tycoons of South Africa. The sharing of knowledge and information is a common practice in many industries, with it being particularly valued in the world of start-ups.


When you’re just starting out as an entrepreneur, things can seem very overwhelming and there are bound to be moments of immense fear and disillusionment. That’s when turning to your fellow entrepreneurs for some much-needed inspiration and motivation can make all the difference, and give you the strength to soldier on. Here’s some valuable advice from a few of South Africa’s most impressive business people.


Sibongile Mphilo – Founder of Sibongile Security Services


From petrol attendant to owner of a multi-million rand security services company, Sibongile Mphilo is a shining example of tenacity and sheer determination.


Words of wisdom: “Don’t fear challenges – every challenge is a learning experience and is an achievement waiting to happen.”


Sibongile Mphilo


Vusi Thembekwayo – CEO of MOTIV8 Advisory & CEO of My Growth Fund


After having to sleep in his car to keep his business afloat, Vusi Thembekwayo went on not only to become a powerful businessman and co-founder of an entrepreneur community, but a prolific keynote speaker too. Known for being the force behind some of the most impressive business teams in the country, Thembekwayo is a constant source of inspiration and energy for entrepreneurs throughout the world.


Words of wisdom:You need courage and determination to pursue your dreams, otherwise your start-up won’t make it.” 


Vusi Thembekwayo


Albé Geldenhuys – Founder and CEO of USN (Ultimate Sports Nutrition)


Albé Geldenhuys started out as a salesman with limited knowledge in the area of health formulas who went on to create an internationally recognised brand worth billions. From humble beginnings in his Pretoria flat to changing the way people understood sports supplements, Geldenhuys and USN have become household names in places as far as Australia and the US.


Words of wisdom:Stick to your company’s vision and it will keep you focussed on what really matters.”


Albe Geldenhuys


Dawn Nathan-Jones – CEO/Director of Imperial Car Rental-Europcar


Since joining the founding members of the company at the tender age of 21, Dawn Nathan-Jones has worked her way up the corporate ladder, starting out as a salesperson and soon moving on to sales and marketing director, and now, CEO. Through hard work and buckets of passion, Nathan-Jones has proven that if you keep your eye on the prize, it is possible to achieve it – what’s important is for you to remain dedicated and focussed. She’s a true inspiration to entrepreneurs everywhere, especially aspiring female entrepreneurs.


Words of wisdom: “Gut feel and people can tell you much more about a business than graphs can.”


Dawn Nathan-Jones


South Africa boasts a multitude of successful entrepreneurs and business people, all living, breathing reminders that if you have a dream, you shouldn’t be afraid to follow it. With a positive attitude, a can-do approach and unwavering belief in yourself and your idea, the world really can be your oyster – just come back to these words of wisdom when you find yourself doubting that.


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Spotlight on South African entrepreneurs: Alex Fourie

Last month saw us take a look at the achievements of media mogul, Bheki Kunene, the first in a series that will showcase some of South Africa’s most promising, young entrepreneurial talent. This month, we get up close and personal with the specialist repair service that is iFix, and its intrepid founder and CEO, Alex Fourie.


From a dorm room to stores across South Africa, iFix has been making waves in the world of technology since it arrived on the scene, with Fourie being the formidable driving force behind the brand. Join us as we take a closer look at this proudly South African service.


Humble beginnings


It all started back in 2006, when Fourie’s iPod broke. He was told by traditional repair channels that it couldn’t be fixed and that he would have to purchase a new one. Unwilling to accept this, Fourie decided to order the part he needed on eBay and then proceeded to watch YouTube instructional videos that guided him in his repair – all from the comfort of his dorm room at the University of Stellenbosch. After successfully fixing his iPod, word soon spread throughout the university and before he knew it, Fourie had person after person coming to him to fix their similarly broken Apple devices. After taking out at advert in a Cape Town newspaper, and receiving 15 calls on the first day, Fourie knew that he had found a gap in the market and there was indeed a brilliant business idea here.


Building a business


The next few years saw the official birth and growth of iFix as it built up its clientele, employed permanent staff and technicians, and opened walk-in stores across the country. Before establishing the stores, iFix worked on a “drop off system” that operated out of Mabu Vinyl in Gardens, Cape Town. In 2010, the first walk-in store opened its doors and that same year, iFix celebrated its 10 000th Apple device repair. Since then, many more stores have been opened up throughout South Africa, including Johannesburg, Durban and Pretoria, and there’s even an express kiosk at the V&A Waterfront. With the help of venture capitalists and influential partners (namely Dion Wired, Incredible Connection and Let Me Repair), iFix has continued to expand and position itself as a leader in the repair of both Apple and Samsung devices.


Beyond iFix


Apart from being a specialist repair service, iFix is also affiliated with other brands, namely Houdt, an exclusive accessory line specialising in stylish wooden device casings and other mobile accessories, as well as RiCharge, which offers mobile charging stations. RiCharge is now available in 12 countries across Africa, an impressive feat in such a short space of time. iSureFix offers a protection plan for Apple products, while uFix is a DIY Apple repair kit that allows you to perform certain repairs yourself.


Moving forward


With a staff of roughly 125 and boasting approximately 10 000 repairs a month, Fourie and iFix are definitely on the up and up. More stores are set to open in the future as demand continues to increase. Amazingly, about 75% of the work that comes iFix’s way is in fact word-of-mouth, proving that the best kind of marketing a business can have is that which is provided but its very own customers. Fourie continues to show his fiery entrepreneurial spirit as his business thrives year after year, and his “just do it” approach is certainly one that inspires. Having been named one of the 30 most promising entrepreneurs under 30 in Africa in 2014, this savvy entrepreneur is undoubtedly destined for further greatness.


We’ll leave you aspiring entrepreneurs with some valuable advice from this impressive mover and shaker: “Never give up. I’ve never had any backing from the corporate world and we just keep on doing what we’re doing. If you believe enough in yourself nothing can stop you.”


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Spotlight on South African entrepreneurs: Bheki Kunene

The entrepreneurial bug has well and truly bitten us here in South Africa and this is evident in the continuously growing numbers of entrepreneurs exploding onto the scene on a seemingly daily basis. South Africans are nothing short of innovative and industrious, and with their drive and passion to achieve something great, there’s really no stopping them in the world of business.


One success story after another shows us that with hard work, commitment and creativity, you can make your dreams become a reality. We’ve decided to honour some of the country’s movers and shakers through a series of blog articles, each shining the spotlight on an inspiring entrepreneur doing amazing things with their small businesses. First up: media mogul Bheki Kunene.


Beating the odds and proving everyone wrong


Bheki Kunene was always seen to be a trouble-maker, a boy up to no good and someone on the “outs”, destined to go nowhere in life. Throughout his teenage years he was in and out of juvenile detention and after attacking a teacher at school, he was expelled and stripped of the right to attend any government institution in the country. After tirelessly searching for a school that would agree to take him, he finally managed to return to school and complete his matric.


Kunene would go on to face greater challenges such as being accused of murder (for which he was later found to be innocent when the real perpetrator was caught) and suffering horrific injuries after a serious car accident. Despite the odds being against him and peoples’ lack of faith in him, he was determined to prove everyone wrong and make something of himself – and this is exactly what happened.


The birth of MindTrix Media


In 2009, with just R600 to his name, no business knowledge and a single computer, Bheki Kunene launched his creative design agency from his bedroom. Specialising in branding and web development, MindTrix Media has flourished over the years and gone on to become a booming business with clients on four continents across the globe. The Gugulethu-based company is the first of its kind, employing over 40 permanent staff and delivering impressive work to its international clientele.


Having studied web and graphic design, Kunene struggled to find an internship position required to be completed as part of his course – this prompted him to take a leap of faith and start his own business. Whilst branding and web development is the main focus, MindTrix also offers app development services as well as marketing material printing.


Giving back


Kunene believes that part of being successful means giving back. He’s dedicated to helping those who wouldn’t necessarily have the opportunity to study web and graphic design through his academy that offers previously disadvantaged people a free tertiary education in this field. He wants to provide the support people need to make something of themselves and because he’s a living example of someone who has done just that, he’s a constant source of inspiration. In an interview with The Legacy Project, Kunene provided some words of wisdom to all those people with a dream to succeed: “Keep trying and trying. If you don’t succeed, keep trying again and again. Take a break if you need to; cry if you must. Just never ever give in.” He believes that to be truly successful in business, one has to be resilient, have a thick skin and have the ability to bounce back when set-backs happen – because they will.


Onwards and upwards


Bheki Kunene’s achievements have been recognised numerous times, with him receiving the Youth Recognition Award from Stellenbosch University’s Africa Centre in 2013, as well as being named one of Africa’s most promising entrepreneurs under 30 by Forbes Africa. He has been lucky enough to have mastered the art of the hustle and is a shining example of what can happen if put your mind to achieving your goals, no matter how big or small. No doubt there is much more to come from this bright, young entrepreneur, and all we can say is that we can’t wait to see what he does next.


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Women rule the world: South African female entrepreneurs making their mark in business

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Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship: Changing the lives of South African entrepreneurs

If hopeful entrepreneurs are to reach their full potential and achieve their business dreams, they need to receive adequate guidance, nurturing and of course, opportunities. South Africa is no stranger to producing top-quality business men and women, and with the number of entrepreneurs entering the scene increasing year after year, the economy is receiving a much-needed boost.

If hopeful entrepreneurs are to reach their full potential and achieve their business dreams, they need to receive adequate guidance, nurturing and of course, opportunities. South Africa is no stranger to producing top-quality business men and women, and with the number of entrepreneurs entering the scene increasing year after year, the economy is receiving a much-needed boost. Aspiring entrepreneurs need all the help they can get and this is something that Sir Richard Branson and his team recognise. The Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship is an organisation that is changing the lives of entrepreneurs across the country – find out how.

The vision

An initiative of Virgin Unite (a non-profit organisation founded within the Virgin Group), the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship was founded in 2005 in the heart of South Africa’s business hub, Johannesburg. From the beginning, the organisation has been committed to providing would-be entrepreneurs with small businesses the opportunities, skills and the inspiration they need to become truly successful in their industries. Business is often seen as a “force for good” and a means of stimulating the economy – it’s not so much about the money as it is about people trying to make a difference in the lives of their loved ones, contributing to society in a positive way, as well as cementing their positions as the future business leaders of our country.

What’s on offer?

The centre offers programmes that aim to help entrepreneurs scale and develop successful, sustainable businesses. Whilst it does not offer funding, it does provide elements that are equally as important. Access to the following is offered:

  • Knowledge: The Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship considers itself to be a knowledge hub, delivering training and mentorship, as well as developing minds through the wealth of information that is made available.
  • Resources: Provides entrepreneurs with the necessary portals that will connect them to the finances and professional services they require to grow their businesses.
  • Markets: Many entrepreneurs need a platform on which they can showcase what they have to offer and as a result, gain access to procurement opportunities. They need market exposure and the centre helps with this.
  • Networks: Connecting with local and international business communities and industry networks is key in order for entrepreneurs to become successful, and the centre helps to provide the necessary channels that make this possible.

The Foundation Course introduces entrepreneurs to the basics. They are taught how to identify the right market, customer and product, plus they are provided with the tools that ensure effective strategising and planning. This is limited to 25 participants. The Advanced Course is offered to those who successfully completed the Foundation Course (limited to just 20 participants) and delves deeper into the inner-workings of running a small business, with particular focus on the idea of “value”. A six-month mentorship programme is then offered upon completion, during which entrepreneurs are paired with suitable mentors who continue to provide guidance and advice as they progress on their journeys. The best part: all training is free (although transport and accommodation costs are the responsibility of the participants).

Plans to expand

Currently, there is only the Gauteng centre but there are plans to expand to other parts of the country in the upcoming months. This will allow the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship to continue to spread its magic further afield and therefore change even more lives.

Get involved

The centre is partly funded by Virgin Unite, with the remainder being covered by corporate business leaders and investors from across the globe. It’s always on the lookout for new mentors who are qualified and wish to offer their assistance to this valuable cause. There are also volunteer opportunities available if you are keen to get involved in another way.Any and all help is greatly appreciated.

The Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship is an organisation that considers entrepreneurs to be the lifeblood of a booming economy and therefore believes (and prides itself on) in playing a vital role in developing their success. South African entrepreneurs are going places, but are sure to go even further with the help of initiatives such as this one.

Sage One also believes in offering budding entrepreneurs assistance on their journeys to success. Watch these informative videos and discover exactly how Sage One can make a difference in your business life.


You may also be interested in reading: Top female entrepreneurs in South Africa OR

Three young South African entrepreneurs to watch OR

Five South African start-ups to watch


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Three young South African entrepreneurs to watch

The future of South Africa inevitably lies in the hands of its youth. It’s young South Africans who are going to lead this country to greatness and set an example for future generations. In recent years, it’s entrepreneurship that has played a key role in the fast development of the South African economy, so when

The future of South Africa inevitably lies in the hands of its youth. It’s young South Africans who are going to lead this country to greatness and set an example for future generations. In recent years, it’s entrepreneurship that has played a key role in the fast development of the South African economy, so when combining young people with entrepreneurial ideas, the result is a veritable powerhouse. Here we take a look at three young South African entrepreneurs making waves across the business landscape.

Bonolo Mataboge – Founder and head designer at Afriblossom

Despite a formidable disability as a result of suffering from Blount’s disease, Bonolo Mataboge is taking the fashion industry by storm. Inspired after a trip to the States in 2011, where she saw how accessible plus-size clothing was for fuller-figured women compared to back home, Mataboge established Afriblossom. Influenced by 60s style as well as the Ndebele culture, Afriblossom caters for curvier ladies, sizes 34-46. The clothing can be described as modern Afro-chic pieces that are stylish and flattering, yet also affordable. In Mataboge’s words: She’s building a fashion empire one stitch at a time.

Bonolo Mataboge

Ludwick Marishane – Founder of Headboy Industries

Ludwick Marishane was still a high school student when he developed DryBath, essentially a specially designed gel that gets you clean just like a bath does, but without the need for water. Hailing from a rural province in Limpopo, Marishane has his life-changing brainwave when a friend, who was too lazy to bath, remarked that it would be helpful if someone invented something that you could put on your skin and not have to bath. Using the limited resources he had, Marishane invented DryBath, a revolutionary sanitation product that would change lives, particularly those of people living in areas where they have limited or no access to fresh water. He became the country’s youngest patent filer and was named the Global Student Entrepreneur of the Year in 2011. He used his prize money to set up his start-up, Headboy Industries, home to the DryBath products.

Wongama Baleni – Co-founder of DOC (Department of Coffee)

The Department of Coffee (DOC) is a coffee shop based in the township of Khayelitsha and the brainchild of Wongama Baleni and his two fellow entrepreneurs, Vusumzi Mamile and Vuyile Msaku. Their aim is not only to teach their young trainees how to make a good cup of coffee, but also to equip them with the necessary skills and experience required to start and run their own businesses. It’s about creating employment but at the same time instilling an entrepreneurial spirit in the youth of South Africa. Baleni is a businessman at heart, but he is also passionate about trying to make a difference. For him, his growing business is about so much more than just coffee. He sees the need to help those in an impoverished community and to make something of themselves. With a delicious selection of coffees to choose from at ridiculously low prices, it’s easy to see how business is booming for this exceptional entrepreneur.

Wongama Baleni

South Africa boasts some impressive young entrepreneurs who continue to contribute to the country’s growing economy. Sage One is there to support entrepreneurs just like these when it comes to their accounting and payroll needs.


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