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Brimstone Investment Corporation: Mustaq Brey

Brimstone is at the forefront of empowerment in the Western Cape.

Juliet Pitman



Mustaq Brey of Brimstone Investment Corporation

Mustaq Brey, a chartered accountant by training, battled to find somewhere to complete his articles in the 1970s, but eventually succeeded in becoming one of the first black CAs in Cape Town. His determination has stood him in good stead. He is the co-founder and CEO of broad based black-controlled company Brimstone Investment Corporation, which listed on the investment companies sector of the JSE Securities Exchange in 1998, becoming the first Cape-based empowerment company to do so. Brimstone, which has a portfolio of strategic listed assets, trading securities and private equity investments, is one of the Western Cape’s few empowerment successes with 2006 revenues at R378 million and headline earnings exceeding R1 billion. Its JSE market capitalisation increased to R1, 65 billion from R963 million at the end of 2005. The company’s strategic investments are focused on financial services, branded consumer products and technology.

Brey first set up his own business in 1985, after realising that South Africa was simply not producing enough black accountants to meet market demand. He built a national practice, KMMT Brey, consisting of 16 partners. In 1994, he and Fred Roberts, who is today the deputy chairman of Brimstone, visited the US as part of an initiative to encourage investment in South Africa. “That was when we discussed the fact that there were several empowerment companies that had been established in Johannesburg, yet not one in the Western Cape,” recalls Brey. “We agreed that we would set up our own BEE initiative on our return home.” The two came back to a fishing industry stand-off and, as a result of their standing in the community, were asked to intervene. This gave them exposure to Oceana fishing company. “We asked them to sell us shares in the company, which they agreed to do on condition that we raised R3 million without going to the banks. Fred was a teacher and I had all my money tied up in my business, so we agreed that we would each borrow R25 000 which we got from Investec. It was important to do this because we believe that you work much harder to win when your own money is in the game.”

They succeeded in raising a total of R11 million from shareholders drawn mostly from the Cape Flats. Brey highlights the company’s commitment to its investors and to making sure that Brimstone continues to place shares in black hands. “We have always had strong community backing and our aim is to be profitable, empowering, and make a difference to the lives of the people we are involved with.”
But Brey has faced his fair share of challenges too. After Brimstone listed, there was a correction in the market and the company’s share price fell from R4 to R1. “The vultures came and suggested to us that we de-list and sell out to them, but we refused,” says Brey. “We got a terrible fright though, so we sold off our assets by June 1999 and paid out dividends to all our shareholders. That was when we decided to rebuild the company and keep it small.” Brimstone’s big break came in 2003, a year in which the company focused on partnerships. It acquired a 25% interest in Lenco and doubled its stake in Sea Harvest to 21,5%. But its most significant deal was involvement in the acquisition of Afrox Healthcare, at R3,5 billion the biggest empowerment transaction outside the mining industry.

“The most important lesson we learnt along the way was that you have to control your growth as you move forward. It’s important to set limits. Today we are far more cautious,” Brey says. Brimstone has undergone a consolidation phase over the past year and has sold off a large asset that has left the business cash flush and made investors very happy. “Our underlying philosophy is to involve Brimstone in ventures that deliver sustainable, quality earnings for our investors, and enable us to have a positive social impact.”

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.






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




Vital Stats

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.


“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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