Statistics regarding business start-ups in South Africa are sobering. International failure rates sit at around 60%; South African failure rates are pegged as high as 80%.It’s a wonder anyone ever leaves the comfort of salaried employment. The chance of success decreases with lack of start-up capital and if you are entering an industry that is experiencing a glut of operators hawking the same service or product as you are.
Against all these odds, people like Mustapha Baboo, director of Maxxor Business Solutions, still make it. Baboo launched Maxxor into the oversubscribed IT services industry in 2004, without any external funding. Today, the company lists MWeb, the Provincial Government of the Western Cape’s Centre for e-Innovation and the Cape Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry among its 110 clients.
Maxxor was the overall national winner of the 2005 SAB Kick-Start Competition and has also been nominated as one of South Africa’s Top 300 Emerging Empowerment Companies in the Software sector by Impumelelo. When Baboo left employment after ten years in the IT services sector, he had big dreams, but if he thought that success would come easy, he was in for a surprise.
“I had what I thought was an awesome business plan and I took it to a number of funding agencies but they all rejected it. I got the same response from all of them: it was too generic; there were too many lone IT consultants out there; they couldn’t see how I was going to differentiate myself.” Baboo took what lessons he could from the experience. He changed the business plan, put his savings together and started knocking on doors to drum up clients. “Every day I heard a resounding ‘no’,” he says.
When someone eventually said “yes”, Baboo became yet another among thousands of other independent IT consultants. His challenge now lay in growing something that would go beyond what he could offer as a single operator.
“I quickly realised there was no way I could build the business I wanted on my own so I set about trying to find other like-minded people to join me. The trick was selling them the idea that it’s better to own a smaller part of something big than to own a large piece of something small,” he says. Raj Moodaley and Shana Kassiem joined as partners, each bringing a unique core competency to the business.
Staying very close to clients was an important part of the team’s early success and perhaps a key differentiator is the fact that the company sees its core competency not in technology itself, but in the application of technology to satisfy business needs and solve business problems.
This means the focus remains clearly fixed on what the client needs. Technology is merely the tool used to meet those needs. “Most IT projects fail,” says Baboo, “but professional service, together with highly skilled technical people, have ensured we don’t drop the ball.” “You can’t compete in this industry if you don’t innovate,” he adds.
“Part of that is ensuring you are continually learning. I want our people to learn one new thing every day.” Learning and mentorship are strongly entrenched in the company with project teams made up of highly skilled senior people and juniors who have potential.
He is passionate about developing people, but Baboo has little time for those who expect success to come knocking. “I find it worrying when people who claim to want to run their own businesses start off by asking what everyone else can do for them. You have to start by asking what you can do for yourself,” he says.
“People complain that nothing is being done to help entrepreneurs, but it’s just because they don’t make the effort to find out what’s there and make use of it.” He’s hit on an important point and one that perhaps goes some way to explaining why he has been successful when so many others have failed.
There is simply no substitute for being proactive and taking the initiative. Skills and contacts can only take you so far – what sets the winners apart from the losers is an ability to self-start.
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.
“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:
- I Am Emerge Provides An App For Township Spaza Bulk Purchasing
- Tuluntulu Offers High Quality Video Streaming On Low Data Speeds
- SSG Consulting Developed KEY360: A Cloud-Based And Web-Enabled Platform For Managing Large-Scale Construction Projects
- Pargo Solving Last-Mile Distribution Challenges
- HouseME Is A Digital Real Estate Platform
- Olympic Paints Has Developed A Built-In Paint Tray Causing An Unexpected Industry Shift
- Passion4Performance Developed A Recognition of Prior Learning Assessment Concept
- NewSpace Systems Delivers High Quality Components At Lower Costs
- My Online Presence Creates End-To-End Solutions For Online Brand Presence
- Skynamo Offering Insights To Sales Teams In The Field
- RecruitMyMom Creating A Platform For Job-Seeking Moms
- GAAP Provides A Hardware And Software Point-Of Sale And Enterprise Solution For The Hospitality Industry
- HeroTel Bringing Wi-Fi To Low Income Communities
- Saryx Engineering Offers Digitised Compliance and Safety For Companies
- BrightBlack Is An Energy Providing Innovative Solar Energy Solutions
- Howler Is An Event Technology Platform
- execMobile’s PocketWifi Keeps Business Travellers Connected
- Rhino Africa Provides Online Touring Assistance
- Snapplify Is Offering Students Access To Textbooks
- GoMetro A Commuter-Driven Mobile App
- Domestly Connecting Cleaning Professionals and Homeowners
- NMRQL Using AI To Deliver Consistent Returns
- Colony Live Connecting Users Across Multiple Platforms
- codeX Is Growing The Work Experience Of Coders In Africa
- This Is Me – Disrupting By Offering A Unique Business Model
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.
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.
- Elisabeth Bradley
- Sharon Wapnick
- Bridgette Radebe
- Irene Charnley
- Wendy Ackerman
- Paul Harris
- Wendy Appelbaum
- Mark Shuttleworth
- Desmond Sacco
- Giovanni Ravazzotti
- Markus Jooste
- Gus Attridge
- Gerrit Thomas Ferreira
- Cyril Ramaphosa
- Adrian Gore
- Raymond Ackerman
- Michiel Le Roux
- Lauritz Dippenaar
- Jannie Mouton
- Stephen Saad
- Patrice Motsepe
- Allan Gray
- Koos Bekker
- Ivan Glasenberg
- Christoffel Wiese
- Johann Rupert
- Nicky Oppenheimer
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.
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:
- Joe Phalwane
- Nandi Dlepu
- Sonto Pooe
- Michel M. Katuta and Thabo Mphate
- Naledi Sibisi
- Reabetswe Ngwane
- Neo Lekgabo
- Vusani Ravele
- Lulo Rubushe
- Samke Mhlongo
- Sizwe Nzima
- Nicolas Bereng
- Lebo Mphela
- Monalisa Molefe
- Siya Kolisi
- Leah Molatseli
- Nhlanhla Dlamini
- Fhumulani Nemukula
- Itumeleng Mpatlanyana
- Nozipho Dube
- Sarinah Matema-Morgans
- Nneile Nkholise
- Mahadi Granier
- Shalton Mothwa
- Theo Mothoa-Frendo
- Bakani Ngulani
- Ndabenhle Junior Ngulube
- Sandra Mwiihangele
- Constance Mapule Bhebhe
- Ignatious Nkwinika, Mbulelo Mpofana, Shane Curran
- Karidas Tshintsholo
- Mutoda Mahamba and Gavin Waldeck
- Ntuthuko Shezi
- Botlhale Tshetlo
- Dineo Lioma, Loretta Magagula, Danisa Nkuna and Lindiwe Nkosi
- Neo Ratau
- Mpodumo Doubada
- Obakeng Moepya
- Ouma Tema
- Lucky Kgwadi
- Nyakallo Mokoena
- Sibongile Sambo
- Mogau Seshoene
- Sibongile Booi
- Khanya Mzongwana
- Nkazi Sokhulu and Tlalane Ntuli
- Nothando Moleketi
- Nthabiseng Ramaboa
- Lilian Muhammed
- Sunshine Shibambo
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