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iConnect: Calvin Collett

When VoIP was made legal in 2004, technology whiz Calvin Collett was keen to become a reseller so he did some investigating.

Monique Verduyn

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Calvin Collett

“What I saw did not impress me,” he recalls.“At the time, if you wanted to interconnect to a South African landline or cellular number you were routed via London and back again to get a cheaper rate. The quality of the calls was terrible. I knew there had to be opportunity to provide a superior service in a market that was being liberalised.”

As fate would have it, he met two guys who had sold all their business interests and were looking for something new to put their money into.  “I approached them with my idea: to build a high-quality, low-cost solution for all fixed line call types including on-net, inter-branch, local, national, international and fixed-to-mobile calls.

The theory was to make it possible for people to hear each other clearly and save money at the same time.” Thinking that he had what sounded like a good idea, his two new business partners invested R8 million, enabling Collett to build his dream solution. He was single-minded about one thing: “I was not going to launch the product until we could offer quality comparable to what people were getting from a landline.”

iConnect began selling to the corporate and SME sector at the beginning of 2008. Collett opted to build a channel of resellers rather than sell direct. He approached people who had contacts and credibility and brought them into the fold. “Clive Rice was one of our first resellers,” he says.

“Today we have more than 40 and they carry all the costs.It’s a model we’re going to build on.” iConnect keeps things simple. There are no upfront capital costs and customers are billed per second. Collett targets businesses with phone bills ranging from R10 000 to R200 000. A small business can save up to 30% a month on a R10 000 account.

The company has been growing at a rate of 30% per month since the beginning of 2009. “What’s really great is thatresellers like Nashua and Panasonic are now approaching us,” Collett says. What’s exciting him now is the furore around interconnect rates. “Soon we’ll be able to compete aggressively again stall the networks, offer even bigger savings to end-users and grow our own margins. But for now, we’re focusing on what we do best – providing an excellent voice service that capitalises on what the Internet has to offer.”          

Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.

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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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27 Of The Richest People In South Africa

Here are 27 of South Africa’s richest people, but how did they achieve this level of wealth? Find out here.

Nicole Crampton

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Learn the secrets of SA’s most successful business people, here is the list of the 27 richest people in South Africa:

In a world with growing entrepreneurship success stories, victory is often measured in terms of money. The feat of achieving a place on this list is, however, years of hard work, determination and persistence. “One has to set high standards… I can never be happy with mediocre performance,” advises Patrice Motsepe.

From the individuals that made the 27 of the richest people in South Africa list, actual entrepreneurs and self-made business people dominate the list; while those who inherited their fortunes have gone on to do even bigger and better things with their wealth. Over the years, some have slipped off the list, while others continue to climb higher and higher each year.

  1. Elisabeth Bradley
  2. Sharon Wapnick
  3. Bridgette Radebe
  4. Irene Charnley
  5. Wendy Ackerman
  6. Paul Harris
  7. Wendy Appelbaum
  8. Mark Shuttleworth
  9. Desmond Sacco
  10. Giovanni Ravazzotti
  11. Markus Jooste
  12. Gus Attridge
  13. Gerrit Thomas Ferreira
  14. Cyril Ramaphosa
  15. Adrian Gore
  16. Raymond Ackerman
  17. Michiel Le Roux
  18. Lauritz Dippenaar
  19. Jannie Mouton
  20. Stephen Saad
  21. Patrice Motsepe
  22. Allan Gray
  23. Koos Bekker
  24. Ivan Glasenberg
  25. Christoffel Wiese
  26. Johann Rupert
  27. Nicky Oppenheimer
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Watch List: 50 Top SA Black Entrepreneurs To Watch

South Africa needs more entrepreneurs to build businesses that can make a positive impact on the economy. These up-and-coming black entrepreneurs are showing how it can be done.

Nicole Crampton

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Early-stage South African entrepreneurial activity is at an all-time high of 11%, according to Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, and entrepreneurial intentions have also increased to 11.7%. With both activity and intentions growing significantly year-on-year, there are more businesses opening up around South Africa than ever before.

The increase in entrepreneurship has seen the rise of more black entrepreneurs across numerous sectors. From beauty brands to legal services and even tech start-ups, these are 50 top black entrepreneurs to watch:

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