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Reincom Furniture Manufactures: Albert Chapfunga

Ex-offender starts up a manufacturing business and becomes an asset to society

Juliet Pitman

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Albert Chapfunga of Reincom Furniture Manufacturers

Albert Chapfunga is many things – businessowner, entrepreneur, philanthropist, founder of Reincom Furniture Manufacturesand ex-offender. It is this last one that proves a sticking point for manypeople but after spending five minutes with this entrepreneur you quicklyrealise that self-pity and entitlement are not words that exist in hisvocabulary.

After learning carpentry skills and readingJohn Kehoe’s motivational works in prison, Chapfunga was inspired to createsomething positive when he was released. The establishment of Reincom FurnitureManufacturers with business partner, Enoch Nkosi in 2003 had a dual purpose. “Iwanted to start my own business but I also wanted to help reduce crime byhelping other ex-offenders to find jobs so that they didn’t return to crimewhen they were released. Society tends to stigmatise them, communities shunthem and potential employers treat them with scepticism,” he explains.Chapfunga was well aware that setting uphis own business was going to be difficult – he faced all the usual start-upchallenges but with the added obstacle of trying to overcome perceptions of himas an ex-prisoner. Unsurprisingly, the biggest challenge was getting financed.“Nobody would assist me with funding – they found it hard to believe thatsomeone could change. But I was desperate to prove that I could be an asset tosociety even though I was an ex-offender, so I persevered.”

In many ways Chapfunga is a born leader,one of those people who inspire others to follow him. His passion, belief andenergy for Reincom have helped attract much-needed funding. Ironically, in the end it was the fact thathe was trying to rehabilitate people who were like him that opened doors. In aclimate where business and social development interests are closer togetherthan they have ever been in the past, Reincom’s social conscience (coupled withits strong business case) gave it an edge. Reinol-Janek Chemicals, GautengEnterprise Propeller and the Eskom Development Foundation all provided funding,both in cash and in kind, enabling the company to purchase a vehicle,equipment, raw materials and pay rent and salaries. In particular, Eskomprovided much-needed mentorship and business management advice that haveenabled Chapfunga to run a successful enterprise on all levels.For his part, he has made sure that theproducts he supplies are of the highest quality and that they meet the needs ofa broad market. It’s important to point out that Reincom is run as a business,not a charity, in spite of its social development aims to reduce crime byreintegrating ex-prisoners into society. The business employs eight people,none of whom are looking for hand-outs and all of whom pull their weight byworking hard to meet the business demands. According to Chapfunga: “They areshowing the most extraordinary ability and determination.”

Chapfunga too has made the most of thissecond chance, aggressively marketing the company and its products andleveraging off the relationships he has with big industry players like Eskom.“Initially we really battled to secure supply contracts to the big furnitureretailers because cash flow problems prevented us from buying machines andincreasing our output,” he explains. But a newly-secured contract andinvestment from an agency that supplies supergroups such as Bradlows and Lewishas promised to bring in the type of money that will make Reincom’s cash flowlook a lot healthier.Chapfunga has big plans for the company’sfuture. “We want to buy the property we are currently in to establish ahalf-way house and training centre but we need to source investment to allow usto do so,” he says, adding, “My next big move is to get government involved sothat the Reincom concept can be rolled out in other areas. Hopefully this willincrease our footprint.” Above all, he’s most proud of havingachieved the vision he had in prison of opening a profitable company that givespeople a second chance. When asked what inspires him, he says he believes innetworking and sharing his dreams and ideas with others. His advice foraspirant entrepreneurs is: “Be clear about what you want to achieve and beprepared to work hard with patience, courage and commitment.” It’s a commentthat sums up what Chapfunga, and Reincom, is all about. Contact: +27 11 822 8774;  www.reincom.co.za

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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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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.

CEOwise

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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.

Related: Pat Pillai On How He’s Helped Over 5000 Entrepreneurs Using 3 Key Steps

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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.

Merge Connect

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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.

Related: 8 Codes Of Success That Helped Priven Reddy of Kagiso Interactive Media Achieve A Networth Of Over R4 Billion

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.

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“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.

Related: Lessons From The Rich And Famous: Manage Your Money Like Oprah To Avoid Going Into Debt Like Nicholas Cage

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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