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
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.
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.
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mergeconnect/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mergeconnect/
- Website: http://www.mergeconnect.co/
- Email: Hello@mergeconnect.co
- Number: 072 458 2182
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.
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.
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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