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Amabubesi Investments: Sango Ntsaluba

A CEO links the health of SA to that of his BEE company, where leadership is about passion

Juliet Pitman

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Sango Ntsaluba of Amabubesi Investments

If it is true that the success of a South African business is inextricably linked to its passion for the success of the country, it’s little wonder that Amabubesi Investments has done so well. Talking to CEO Sango Ntsaluba is a lesson in boundless passion.

From black chartered accountants and the lack of development in rural areas, to personal ethics and the education of the country’s youth, Ntsaluba speaks expansively on many topics close to his heart. This is a man who understands what it means to say, “If South Africa fails tomorrow, we all lose.” His passion for the success of the country clearly spills over into his business, colouring how he deals with the clients in his portfolio and the strategy of the business going forward.

All this passion, however, in no way makes Ntsaluba a hot-head. In answer to questions about what keeps him awake at night, he answers: “I never want my name to be associated with failure. Some people say this makes me conservative, but I think it just makes me cautious.”

A bit of caution clearly doesn’t go awry in the game Ntsaluba is in. Amabubesi Investments, of which he is both a founder and CEO, takes something of a leap of faith every time they agree to partner a business entity looking for an investor. So a key strength of the company is the fact that all three founding members (who are reflected in the company logo of three lion heads from which the company derives its name) understand business on the intimate level that only personal experience can bring.

Ntsaluba and Peter Moyo are both chartered accountants, and Moyo is also deputy managing director of Old Mutual South Africa. Thabiso Tlelai is CEO of The Don Suite Hotel Group and Bulelani Ngcuka is Executive Chairman.

Ntsaluba started one of the biggest black accountancy firms in the country and was previously Executive Director of Transnet. It is a source of great pride that his credentials are business rather than politically orientated. Which brings us to another of his passions: black economic empowerment. “I think it’s unfortunate that BEE has a reputation in this country of being exclusively for those with political connections,” he says candidly. “There is place in the BEE playing field for professionals as well, for people who have succeeded in business.”

Amabubesi Investments is premised on sound business principles. “We’re a professional team here – we work hard,” he says.“I regard myself first and foremost as a professional businessperson and issues of ethics are very important to me, so we try to manage conflict of interest;one of the challenges BEE faces in this country.”

On his role as CEO, he bears in mind his staff, shareholders and businesses he has partnered with. And although it can’t be described as the key driver, Ntsaluba also tries to remain mindful of struggling entrepreneurs who need to be given a chance to succeed. “The three of us needed someone to give us a chance when we started Amabubesi and I know how hard it is in SA to get a foothold when no one knows your surname,” he says.

Taking calculated risks reaps rewards, however. “An entrepreneur in telecoms came to us the other day and put forward a compelling case. I said to my colleagues: ‘This guy is an entrepreneur, all that he doesn’t have is a name that is known; let’s invest in him.’ He now deals with MTN, Ericsson, he’s here, he’s in Uganda, he’s running a successful business.”

It’s this kind of case that excites Ntsaluba: not only is the company rewarded for its investment, he also gets to be part of the success of another local business. About the future, Ntsaluba says: “South Africa has done well for me and I am grateful. From a personal point of view, I would like to give something back, especially to my community in the rural Eastern Cape.”And the future of the country? “It is bright!” he enthuses. With people like him around, how can it be anything else?

Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.

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25 Of The Most Successful Business Ideas In South Africa

Find out who’s making waves in numerous industries and how they managed to differentiate themselves in local and international industries.

Nicole Crampton

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“Disruption is all about risk-taking, trusting your intuition, and rejecting the way things are supposed to be. Disruption goes way beyond advertising, it forces you to think about where you want your brand to go and how to get there,” says Richard Branson.

South Africa has its fair share of innovative and disruptive businesses taking both local and international industries by storm. From cutting edge space technology to reimagined logistics, and innovative business models, here are 25 of the most successful business ideas in South Africa:

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Colin Timmis Says ‘Position Yourself For Success By Starting With The Numbers’

People pay first who they feel pressure from, so people will pay you when they feel pressure from you.

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Entrepreneur Colin Timmis founded South Africa’s first cloud accounting practice in 2011, Real Time Accounting. Then, a few years after being appointed as South Africa’s first Xero partner Colin became Xero Country Manager South Africa. Xero is the emerging global leader of online accounting software that connects small businesses to their advisors and other services.

Related: Pat Pillai On How He’s Helped Over 5000 Entrepreneurs Using 3 Key Steps

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Two 20 Year Olds Reshape Entrepreneur Landscape With New Social Investment Platform

The Merge vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

Merge Connect

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It’s no secret that finding the right investor for your venture is a challenge that most entrepreneurs face. The current process of finding investment is one that is outdated, and limits entrepreneurs due to a lack of time, and network that is needed to find the right investor. But, this doesn’t have to be the case in today’s digital society, says Zander Matthee and Brandon Bate, co-founders of Merge.

“By making the Internet the middleman, we are able to connect with each other much simpler and faster than before” was Zander’s response. “We have taken advantage of this, and have created a digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors” added Brandon.

Merge is a social platform that connects entrepreneurs and investors. It aims to simplify, refine and accelerate the process of finding investment for entrepreneurs, and the process of finding investment opportunities for investors. From idea to developed, the platform allows entrepreneurs to present a brief outline of their venture to a network of all investor types. While doing this, entrepreneurs are able to browse through, and connect with investor profiles that suit their requirements.

Related: 8 Codes Of Success That Helped Priven Reddy of Kagiso Interactive Media Achieve A Networth Of Over R4 Billion

From Private Investors to Venture Capital, and everything in between, Merge allows all investor types to join. Investors have the opportunity to personalise their feed to suit their investment preferences, and will be able to connect with innovative businesses – that are looking for investment – at their fingertips. Only once there is a mutual interest in each other, are users able to enter a secure private chat where they can discuss further and share documents under the protection of a digital NDA.

The two boys became good friends during their time in high school at St Stithians Boys College. However, it was only in their last year, 2016, that they decided to pursue their dreams and create the platform. They didn’t know how to code, so rather ironically, they needed some form of investment to get the platform off the ground.

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“We knew we had a mountain to climb, but we believed in our vision and that we were really trying to make a difference, and if we could get others to see that, they would be onboard.” said Zander.

Related: Lessons From The Rich And Famous: Manage Your Money Like Oprah To Avoid Going Into Debt Like Nicholas Cage

Chris Peters is one of these individuals that bought into their vision, and became Merge’s first investor. As a successful entrepreneur and part time investor , Chris saw how much value the platform could bring to all entrepreneurs and investors alike. His marketing and strategic background gave him insight into how Merge could play a vital role in a lucrative space, Brand involvement.

“Entrepreneurship and SME development are two key factors that drive economic growth in developing countries like South Africa. That is why brands are currently getting involved, and looking to support entrepreneurs through various means. We have built a platform that allows these brands to successfully market, and execute on the programmes they have created to assist entrepreneurs.” said Chris

Merge was created to assist all entrepreneurs and investors in finding exactly what they are looking for, regardless of age, race, sex, financial position or social status. That is why anybody can sign-up as an entrepreneur. As long as you are determined and willing to work for your dreams. For too long has the investor space been seen as an “elite club for the select few”, and Merge is here to change that. Whether you’ve gotten your bonus at the end of the year and looking for new investment opportunities, or are an active investor, you can sign-up. Whether you’re currently working, or a retired industry leader, you can join as a mentor.

Their vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

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