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Mike Luptak Of Dlala Nje On Recasting Business Roles

When he decided to start Dlala Nje, Mike Luptak was venturing far outside his comfort zone. Now he is encouraging other companies to do the same thing, uncovering a goldmine of untapped potential in the process.

GG van Rooyen




Vital Stats

  • Player: Michal Luptak
  • Company: Dlala Nje
  • Established: 2012
  • Contact: 

A few years ago, Michal ‘Loopy’ Luptak was working at one of the most prestigious accounting firms in the country. He was young and driven, but he was struggling to invest fully in his chosen career. It just didn’t feel right.

So, Luptak made the brave decision to change his life. He moved into Ponte Tower and started offering tours of the infamous building and the surrounding Hillbrow area.

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The tour business has been running for almost three years now, and Dlala Nje recently started offering a new kind of tour — one that aims to assist companies in addressing issues within their organisational cultures.

What do you offer companies?

Simply put, we assist companies to alter the entrenched roles and beliefs that so often exist within large organisations.

We’ve assisted Nando’s, for example, in initiating people into the company culture — giving overseas members of the company insight into South Africa and what life is like here.

And how do you do this?

We provide what we call an ‘immersive experience’. We strip a group of company representatives of all their possessions, give them a small amount of money, and send them into the city.

They are then given a list of tasks that they need to complete. For example, they will be dropped off at Bree Street with R9 each, and told to get to Yeoville.

What is the aim of this?


The aim is to take a group of people out of their comfort zones and recast them in different roles. For instance, the MD or CEO of a large company might have no idea how to catch a taxi from Bree Street to Yeoville, but a cleaner or receptionist might know exactly how to do it, since they have to do it daily just to get to work.

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What do participants take away from the experience?

Hopefully, they realise that roles within a company are too tightly defined. Many companies have wonderful resources that they never tap into.

Not only does this sort of experience allow employees to engage on a very different level, but it also reveals those individuals with great potential that isn’t being tapped.

When I worked as an accountant, I wasn’t happy. I’m a people person — I need to interact with people — but my job wasn’t allowing me to do that. I wasn’t given a client-facing role at all.

I just sat behind my desk and worked. Had I been allowed to fulfil a role that was better aligned with my personality and interests, I might not have left that job.

Companies need to make sure that the right people are in the right roles. You could have a wonderful employee with loads of potential who’s not performing for the sole reason that he or she isn’t in the right position. Put people in the right role, and they flourish.

How does the experience change the views of management?

Apart from the above, those in management roles tend to gain a greater understanding of the difficulties that employees have to deal with daily. Many people are ignorant about how public transport works in South Africa. This kind of experience offers some much-needed insight.

It is a humbling experience, spending some time in an area such as Hillbrow. Seeing what people have to go through really fosters compassion.

How does a tour change the employer/employee relationship?


Employees feel much more appreciated after this kind of experience. They feel more like a complete person in the eyes of the employer.

It’s an important lesson for companies: If you truly invest in the lives of employees, you won’t lose them. Employees care about more than money — they want to work for a company that cares about them.

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What are your goals for the future?

We would like to go much larger with the concept. Ideally, Dlala Nje would like to sign up volunteers from all over the world and have them work in Africa.

Volunteer work is important, both for employees and employers.

Young people who are preparing to enter the job market can gain some useful life experience through volunteer work. Prospective employers, meanwhile, can benefit by employing young people who have willingly volunteered for a good cause.

Employing someone who has done volunteer work in a difficult environment is rarely a bad idea.

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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.

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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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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.

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  3. Bridgette Radebe
  4. Irene Charnley
  5. Wendy Ackerman
  6. Paul Harris
  7. Wendy Appelbaum
  8. Mark Shuttleworth
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  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.

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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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