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Ezra Ndwandwe: The Big Break

A local businessman looks for the next generation of South African entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneur

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Three years ago Ezra Ndwandwe called a meeting with his staff and told them he was embarking on a new venture. He would no longer be ‘selling time’ as a consultant. He was getting into the TV business instead.

It’s a credit to Ndwandwe and his leadership style that his employees did not immediately panic about their job security. Having built up Dual Point Holdings, an extremely successful consultancy firm, over the past eight years, Ndwandwe wants to remain loyal to his consultancy clients, and so he has developed a competent and well respected team of consultants to cater for those clients’ needs. “The art of delegation is paramount to growing a business,” says Ndwandwe. “I’ve managed to delegate so well that I only need to oversee our consultancy accounts now, freeing me up to follow the next steps in my own entrepreneurial path.”

While his team’s core focus has remained on managing transformation, business process re-engineering, diversity in the workplace and effective change management for some of South Africa’s largest corporations, Ndwandwe has been focusing on how the concepts of Idols and The Apprentice can be used to create a uniquely South African entrepreneurial reality TV show. His vision, titled The Big Break, pits MBA alumni against business owners who have developed their skills ‘on the street’ and focuses on weekly business challenges that require innovative thinking.

Creating New Avenues

As an entrepreneur who supports local business growth, Ndwandwe wanted to find a way to build a business that would foster a ‘can do’ spirit amongst other budding entrepreneurs. “Since 1994 there have been so many exciting changes in this country, but we have not been good at creating new industries,” he says. “We have followed the same formulas, and while most of those concentrate on important services, it is new industries that will grow the economy and open new employment opportunities.”

With that in mind, Ndwandwe had three key aims: to find a way to meld his vision of business growth in South Africa with a sustainable business idea; to find and foster the pioneers that will open new avenues in South Africa’s business landscape; and to create and develop a self-sufficient and sustainable business community and ideology. After months of brainstorming with his team, the concept of The Big Break began to take shape, and once SABC and Ndwandwe signed a five-year contract, calls for entries began.

The show is not for the contestants alone. “In my experience, if you speak to a cross section of South Africans, 99% will say they want to start their own business, but only 2% will know how. The desire to participate in the mainstream economy is there, but the know-how is often lacking.

“We designed the show based on that premise: 60% of it is entertainment, and 40% is education. We want viewers to indentify with participants but also learn from the tasks and challenges they need to perform. Through the show we want to demystify entrepreneurship and show why certain principles and disciplines are important in business. We want people watching the show to walk away thinking ‘ah, so that’s why it’s so important to brand my company, and this is how I go about doing it.’ We want them to learn while they are being entertained.”

A Broader Community

The launch of The Big Break on SABC 3 is only the first step in building the brand. “My vision is to create an entrepreneurial platform that fosters business ideas and a local business community,” explains Ndwandwe.

“Most of Government’s solutions have a shelf life. Eventually enterprise development grants will dry up, and BEE will have run its course. We need to create a self-sufficient business community now.”

In line with this ideal, The Big Break incorporates a number of different platforms. Launching alongside the TV show is an online site that members can use to vote for their favourite contestants, offer contestants advice with their various challenges, ask questions and give answers to each other, and network with people who have similar experience.

“The show will only feature 12 contestants but hundreds of people have applied. We wanted to create a development model for them too,” adds Ndwandwe, who has partnered with GIBS to develop a course designed specifically for those entrepreneurs, called 12 Steps from Concept to Market. This certified course will form the basis of The Big Break books and DVDs, due to launch in 2012. “The show is the face of The Big Break brand. It’s a fantastic vehicle through which to build brand equity and excite South Africans about business opportunities. But it’s the online platform that will enable us to grow. Through the website we are bringing advertisers into direct contact with entrepreneurs. The entire site is dedicated to their target market.”

Ndwandwe’s vision is to extend the brand into Africa and beyond once the concept has been proven in South Africa.

Ezra on Launching Your Own TV Show

The Vision. “This took the most amount of time. We developed and discarded a few models before we came up with something that we thought would work for the contestants and engage the audience. It took a lot of research into current and past reality shows and how the audience responds to different models. We realised that it was particularly important for the audience to vote. Business is about influencing your community, and we hope this message comes across through viewer participation — for the contestants and the audience.”

Sponsors & Partners
The Big Break has signed a five year contract with SABC 3. The show pays SABC for the slot, although it has recouped most of the costs of developing and filming the show through sponsorships. “The sponsors we concentrated on were brands that wanted to target local entrepreneurs, or would benefit from product placement on the show. Our partners include GIBS, BMW, Southern Sun, SA Gold Coins and Independent Newspapers.”

The Journey

“It has taken almost three years from the idea to the actual launch of the show. Normal working hours ceased to exist for me during the brainstorming stages, and later as we got close to the launch of the show. An idea is one thing, but success lies in its execution, and that takes hard work. The TV show is only the beginning for this brand, so we needed to get everything right from the start.”

Tune In

The Big Break launches in September 2011. Each week, 12 contestants will face a multitude of business challenges, with the show’s judges and viewers votes deciding who continues to the next round, and who leaves the show.

The winner of the season walks away with R5 million to invest in their business or as seed capital for their business idea and the top five participants win scholarships to study at GIBS.

Visit www.bigbreaklegacy.com for more information on The Big Break and www.gibs.co.za for more information on their entrepreneurial courses.

Viewers are encouraged to submit their own business plans for evaluation and they stand a chance to win up to R500 000 as seed capital at the end of the season. They also stand a chance to win a Madiba silver coin to the value of R1 250 every episode and a gold Madiba coin to the value of R30 000 at the end of the season.

The Judges

Ezra Ndwandwe began his career with blue-chip multinationals such as Unilever, Reckitt Benckiser and SAB Miller where he filled executive positions. He is the founder and CEO of Dual Point Holdings and the chairman of The Big Break.

Michael Goldman joined the Gordon Institute of Business Science in early 2000 to launch the GIBS Forum and Executive Conferences offering at the school. He is currently a full-time senior lecturer at GIBS.

Wendy Luhabe is a recipient of many global and local awards for her leadership role. She is featured regularly in the South African media as one of South Africa’s most powerful women and is currently chairman of Vendome SA.

Quentin Wray is the newly appointed publisher of Independent Online and is the former editor of Business Report, South Africa’s largest financial daily newspaper.

Entrepreneur Magazine is South Africa's top read business publication with the highest readership per month according to AMPS. The title has won seven major publishing excellence awards since it's launch in 2006. Entrepreneur Magazine is the "how-to" handbook for growing companies. Find us on Google+ here.

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Nhlanhla Dlamini Not Only Has Guts, But Grit – In Spades

An alumnus of WBS and Harvard Business School, Nhlanhla Dlamini did some soul searching when he was doing his MBA at Harvard, and knew that the corporate ladder, although tempting, was simply not going to be enough.

Wits Business School

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It takes guts to venture into entrepreneurship. And when you’re in a ‘cushy’ job with a top global auditing firm who are grooming you for partnership, it takes even more guts.

Nhlanhla Dlamini not only has guts, but grit – in spades.

An alumnus of WBS and Harvard Business School, Nhlanhla did some soul searching when he was doing his MBA at Harvard, and knew that the corporate ladder, although tempting, was simply not going to be enough.

“I started thinking, ‘what is the best thing I can do with my life?’”, recalls Nhlanhla. “I always felt a pressing need to get involved in lowering the unemployment rate in South Africa.  It’s a notoriously difficult space, but entrepreneurship is the real engine of job creation and I felt compelled to rise to the challenge.”

When he left his job at McKinsey in March 2015, Nhlanhla decided to explore the agricultural sector – having no idea what product or what part of the value chain he would end up in. He spent until December that year exploring the agri-food sector, gaining as much understanding as he could about the entire industry by talking to famers, co-ops, agricultural associations and various other stakeholders.

Related: 10 Young Entrepreneurs Under 30 Share Their Start-Up Secrets

“I wanted to export products to the US and I looked at tree nuts, blueberries, dairy products or meat. Because of stringent FDA regulations, meat wasn’t an option – but a friend of mine from WBS days suggested meat in the form of pet food.”

And so Maneli Pets was born, and Nhlanhla moved his fledgling business into a factory, which he re-purposed for meat processing, in October 2016. By June 2017, he had started operations with 30 employees on board, and by September he had 50 employees.

Maneli Pets

What makes Maneli different from other US-bound pet food products in an already saturated market? The answer is high protein meat from animals that are unique to South Africa.

“I discovered a market for the off-cuts of meat  from specialist butcheries – so crocodile, warthog, ostrich etc,” Nhlanhla explains. “The result is a very high quality, high protein pet snack with a difference – and US pet owners are willing to pay for the best they can get.”

Under the brand name ‘Roam’, Maneli Pets products are exported to a pet food wholesaler in Boston, US, owned by the family of Nhlanhla’s former WBS classmate, who had planted the seed of the idea in the first place.  Nhlanhla is now preparing to launch the products under another brand name for distribution in South Africa and export to the EU.

But pet food is only the start. Maneli Pets is an offshoot of the Maneli Group, a diversified food company which is looking ooking to build further businesses in the green energy sector, while boosting black entrepreneurship.

According to a City Press report, South Africa has relatively few black-owned food production businesses, which is why government is actively promoting agro-processing and the manufacturing sector in general to spur economic growth.

Nhlanhla has worked tirelessly to secure government funding, and was thrilled to obtain R26 million from the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC). Just last month, he received the news that Maneli Pets had been awarded grant funding of R12.5 million from the Department of Trade and Industry’s Black Industrialists Scheme (BIS).

Nhlanhla, who was also a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University, considers his PDM at WBS a “superb” way of preparing a student for the real world of work. “The group dynamics was an essential learning experience in terms of delivering on a mandate with a group with entirely different skill sets.”

Related: Edward Moshole Founder Of Chem-Fresh Started With R68 And Turned It Into A R25 Million Business

Describing himself as a “passionate and active WBS alumnus”, Nlhanhla still stays in regular contact with a core group from his PDM class, proving that one of the enduring benefits of a PDM (and an MBA) is the opportunity to connect and network with like-minded people and form life-long friendships.

Apart from what he learnt in the Entrepreneurship Management module of the PDM, such as the pillars of entrepreneurship, macro trend support and financing an idea, Nhlanhla considers the keys to success are threefold: Recognising the value of a social network, tenacity – and just a little luck!

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See Will.i.am And Malcolm Gladwell Live In South Africa

The BCX Disrupt Summit has gathered some of the world’s most innovative and disruptive thinkers to guide you and your business into the future.

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See Will.i.am And Malcolm Gladwell Live In South Africa

As one of the largest technology players in South Africa, BCX embraces disruption. As an organisation, one of its primary focuses is to move its customers into the future, not just with products and services, but a shift in mindset as well.

What tools and ideas do we need to embrace today to be ahead of the curve tomorrow? With this in mind, BCX has partnered with BrainFarm to launch the inaugural BCX Disrupt Summit.

“The BCXDisrupt Summit is a platform for South African innovators and businesses to learn from and be inspired by some of the greatest examples of possibility in the world,” says Dean Carlson, founder and CEO of BrainFarm, the event organisers.

A gathering of minds

The BCXDisrupt Summit is bringing some of the world’s greatest minds together under one roof for two days. The speaker line-up includes will.i.am, Malcolm Gladwell, Rapelang Rabana and Nick Goldman and topics covered will range from where technology is heading, to how playing games can extend your life expectancy by up to ten years.

will.i.am

will.i.am

Seven-time Grammy award winning hip hop artist will.i.am is also a significant player in the tech and entrepreneurial space, as well as a philanthropist. He was a partner in Beats Electronics, which was sold to Apple for $3 billion in 2014. “When will.i.am was 16 years old, music was where it was at,” says Dean.

“And so, he focused on building a music career, and creating products for that industry. Today he’s learning to code, because that’s where it’s at. He’s got an unparalleled handle on where the world is moving to, and so many insights to share.”

Dean has built BrainFarm on a portfolio of incredible local and international speakers, each of whom he’s seen live. “I regularly attend international conferences to get a sense of which speakers and idea-shapers I’d like to bring to South Africa,” he explains.

“will.i.am is one of those global shapers whose ideas take everything to the next level. To get maximum value from him for our delegates, we’ve chosen an interview set-up instead of a key-note talk. Local tech expert Aki Anastasiou will be interviewing him, and the audience will be able to ask questions as well. This will give us an opportunity to localise will.i.am’s knowledge and ideas.”

Related: 10 Young Entrepreneurs Under 30 Share Their Start-Up Secrets

Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell

Author of five New York Times bestsellers, including David and Goliath and Outliers Gladwell is well known for introducing the concept of the 10 000-hour rule, which states anyone can become an expert in anything given enough time and practice. Dean first brought Malcolm Gladwell to South Africa in 2009.

“When I dropped him off at the airport, Malcolm signed his book for me with the words ‘Please invite me back,” says Dean.

“We’ve tried to bring him out a few times since then, but the timing hasn’t worked out. This was the ideal summit for Malcolm’s ideas, and this time, the timing worked.”

Having seen Malcolm in action many times over the years, Dean knows that he’s a speaker that always leaves his audiences wanting more. And so, the BrainFarm team thought about the best way give their delegates exactly that.

“Malcolm has developed a masterclass for the second day of the Summit that will focus on what makes a person successful, both in life and business. He’ll be unpacking tools our delegates can use to personally drive success.”

Nick Goldman

Nick Goldman

Nick is that rare breed of academic who is also an engaging and entertaining speaker. A UK-based mathematician and genome scientist, Nick is passionate about how we can store and preserve digital data.

“If you want to feed your brain, Nick is the person who will do that for you. His team recently coded five documents of historical significance onto a strand of DNA,” says Dean.

Each day, what we thought was possible changes. What does the future look like, and are you ready for it?

Related: 10 Inspirational African Entrepreneurs

Marieme Jamme

Marieme Jamme

Born in Senegal and sold into sex slavery, Marieme Jamme refused to accept the lot life had given her, and instead taught herself to code. It was a skill that enabled her to change her conditions and life. Today, through her latest venture, iamtheCODE, she has one giant, global goal: To teach one million women and girls to code by 2013.

“Marieme has a consultancy that helps tech companies get a foothold into Africa, the Middle east, Latin America and Asia, and she’s also focused on her mission to help other women and girls escape their fates by learning to code,” says Dean. “She’s one of the most interesting and inspiring people I’ve ever come accross.”

Sipho Maseko

Sipho Maseko

Heralded as the controversial CEO and saviour of Telkom, Sipho has helped the company rack up gains of 150%, making Telkom one of the best performing companies on the JSE. “A major focus of Telkom is getting businesses across Africa ready for tomorrow’s customers,” says Dean.

“To be ready for tomorrow’s customers though, you need to know who they are, and have a sense of what the future will bring.”

Jane McGonigal

Jane McGonigal

A game designer, Futurist and New York Times best-selling author, Jane’s TED Talk, The Game That Can Give You Ten Extra Years of Life, has over six million views to date.

Related: The 10 Strangest Secrets About Millionaires

Rapelang Rabana

Rapelang Rabana

Local tech-star Rapelang Rabana is the CEO and founder of Rekindle Learning, a company she has positioned at the crest of a rapidly rising online community across Africa.

Her mission: To deliver learning in bite-sized chunks across the continent.

Ian Russel

Ian Russel

CEO of BCX. BCX has invested millions in computer programming education so that young people from all social and economic backgrounds have the opportunity to become programmers at no cost to them.

Lars Silberbauer

Lars Silberbauer

When Lars joined LEGO as Senior Global Director of Social Media and Video, the company didn’t even have a Facebook page.

“Today LEGO has well over 12 million followers on Facebook and more than three million on YouTube where they’ve just knocked up five billion lifetime views,” says Dean.

“The big idea behind their social media campaigns is to leave the thinking to their fans. Lars understands the creative power of the crowd, and what harnessing that power can do for your business.”

Related: 8 Things Exceptional Thinkers Do Every Day

Bringing it all together

Dean Carlson

Dean Carlson

“We focus on projects that excite us, and that will change the perceptions and world views of our delegates,” says Dean. “We’ve partnered with BCX to put together an incredible event that will leave you inspired, amazed and driven to change your life and organisation – with the tools to do so.”

To find out more about the BCX Disrupt Summit or to book a seat, visit https://www.bcxdisrupt.com/

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The Youngest Body20 Franchise Owners Share Their Success Story

Brothers Stiaan and CW Pieterse believe that if you love what you do, success will automatically follow. That’s why they’ve invested in a brand that works for them — to show other people that there’s an answer to the enemy of fitness: The time-crunch.

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“I’m glad we chose Body20. I wouldn’t want to be their competitor,” says Body20 Montana owner Stiaan Pieterse. He and his brother CW, who runs Body20 Brooklyn, invested in the franchise two years ago after the amazing results they experienced as clients.

“Both Stiaan and I love to work out,” says CW. “We were clients of Body20 and couldn’t get enough of it. We were looking for a professional change and saw the brand as our ideal opportunity. It’s changed our lives and we’ve never looked back.”

Related: How Body20 Moves Their Franchisees In The Direction Of Success

Out of the ordinary

As fitness fanatics, Stiaan and CW, also known as the Brooklyn Brothers within the franchise, saw potential in the Body20 concept that gave them results equivalent to a workout of four hours minimum in the gym, in just 20 minutes. “I could not let this opportunity slip through my hands; I had to be part of it,” says Stiaan, a mechanical engineer by profession.

“To train someone in only 20 minutes and get the results in only a fraction of the time, that’s what excites me and motivates me to get up in the morning.”

Two years in, Stiaan and his brother — who studied chartered accountancy — are happy franchisees with the brand they describe as strong, firm and exceptional. This is largely thanks to the support they each receive as store owners. The constant training they receive for self-improvement as well as for their trainers is a benefit they both beam about.

“This is not one of those companies where you are seen as a number. At Body20 you’re seen as a true shareholder and owner in the brand as a whole,” says CW.

On the up and up

As two of Body20’s youngest franchisees, the brothers aren’t afraid of the challenge of owning and running two locations, but it’s passion for people and results that has seen their businesses succeed. “I love what I do and that excites me,” says Stiaan.

Related: Healthy Body20 Franchise Leads To Happy Hearts

“That excitement turns into passion and that only drives me more and more. Since being part of Body20 I have not worked a day in my life.”

Of course, it helps having a capable and equally passionate team, including head office. Both CW and Stiaan laud the 24-hour support received from MD Bertus Albertse, Franchise Relations Manager Shaun Bruin and his team who are always available to communicate.

“From the second I’ve been part of the brand I’ve grown exponentially, learnt something new every day,” says Stiaan. “With the support of the brand, the easy business model and a little elbow grease, it’s almost impossible for you not to make a success of it.”


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Enquire about your very own Body20 studio today.

Or Download the Franchise Info pack and join one of our exclusive Franchise Presentations: www.body20.co.za/key-activations/

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