When asked what his advice would be to aspirant entrepreneurs struggling to get their business ideas financed, Fulton Ramaphakela, winner of the Best Emerging Entrepreneur category in the Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur Awards, answers, “Business is not about getting finance.
You can start with nothing; it will take time to build but you will succeed. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get finance – just around the corner is an opportunity.” It might be glib advice were it not coming from someone who started a business with nothing and built it into an industry leader in just 10 years.
Today Ramaphakela is CEO of Moloko Group Holdings, a company that started as a computer hardware supplier, but has grown into a group of diverse businesses, including Moloko Information Systems, Vimba Security, iSource and AssetCARE. Big name clients include Stats SA, Spoornet, the Departments of Education, Health and Transport and the South African Post Office.
Ramaphakela, who always dreamed of owning his own business, says he was inspired by his electrician father who ran a small township business.
But starting up wasn’t easy: “I resigned from my job and took 30 days’ leave. I had an offer from another company so I knew I had 30 days to make the business work, otherwise I would have to go into employment again.
During that time, all I had was my last salary and I wanted to sell computer hardware, so my biggest challenge was how to get finance.” With nothing other than his business idea and enthusiasm, Ramaphakela was turned away by many financial institutions, but he dealt with this set-back with characteristic optimism.
He realised he didn’t necessarily need finance to purchase computer hardware; he could still make money by getting suppliers to supply his clients and getting the clients to pay the suppliers directly. He himself took a commission from suppliers.
While the solution he hit on sounds simple it hinged on two vital ingredients: Ramaphakela’s ability to sell the idea to suppliers and his ability to instil a sense of trust in all parties. “I won’t lie to you and tell you it was easy.
I did a lot of pushing,” he explains, adding, “At the time, I didn’t have established relationships with any suppliers or clients and I knocked on every door I could think of. I would show the suppliers proof of order and get the clients to change the order into the supplier’s name if necessary.
Eventually they realised I was for real.” The Sandton Town Council was the first organisation to take a chance on him and Moloko Information Systems was born. Looking back on the early days, Ramaphakela laughs, “I was a one-man show making deliveries in a Polo I couldn’t afford to pay the installments for.
At one time I really had to duck and dive and try to delay the bank’s repossession of the car, but I have no regrets.” Dogged determination paid off and success has followed quickly in its wake. Effectively Ramaphakela turned a challenge not only into an opportunity but into an advantage as his solution meant he didn’t have to carry any capital risk himself.
“I always tell the following story to illustrate how entrepreneurs look at problems differently,” he explains, continuing, “Two people walking down a street notice lots of rubbish lying around. One comments on how dirty the place is and how the people living there don’t look after themselves properly.
But the entrepreneur sees an opportunity and goes about setting up a rubbish collecting business.”
It’s an attitude that has contributed immeasurably to Moloko’s growth and success. Vimba Security was started when Ramaphakela realised the armed response market in the townships was wide open and ripe for the taking.
When clients indicated their need for an asset management service, he started AssetCARE without any financial knowledge or expertise. Not all his risks have paid off, however, and Ramaphakela is quick to point out that he has started business divisions that didn’t work. “The trick is to know when to cut your losses and call it a day on an idea that isn’t working,” he says.
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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