Connect with us


Tswelopele Group: Bongane Madondo

Midrand-based engineering company is set to become a major player in SA and beyond.

Monique Verduyn



Bongane Madondo of Tswelopele Engineering

Soweto-born electrical engineer andentrepreneur Bongane Madondo gave up a lucrative scholarship that had himstationed in Secunda in 1993, because he simply could not adapt to life in asleepy industrial town. It was to be the best career move he could have made.He was taking some time out when his mentor, nuclear physicist Gordon Sibiya,advised him to finish what he started and put him in touch with engineeringsolutions company IST. Madondo started a new life in Pretoria and went on tocomplete his studies at Tshwane University of Technology while working for IST.

“The first democratic elections had comeand gone and everything was falling into place for black entrepreneurs,”Madondo recalls. When IST began looking for an empowerment partner, he was thelogical choice. He had completed a course in entrepreneurship as part of hisstudies, and was seeking to launch his own company, Tswelopele Engineering. He co-partnered with IST to launch the business in1997. Tswelopele Engineering has come a long waysince its early days. Madondo recounts how it was R120 000 in the red in yearone, and R600 000 down in year two.“Everything we had went into launching theventure,” he says. “We kept our costs to a minimum and my partner and I wereradically underpaid, often earning less than our employees.”

In 1999, Tswelopele signed a distributionagreement with USelectrical equipment manufacturer Cooper Power Systems. It was a deal thatliterally fell into Madondo’s lap. Since then, the company has averaged aturnover of R20 million a year. 2008 may be the best year yet, with R30 millionprojected. Tswelopele bought out IST in 2005, bringing an end to what had beena successful partnership. Oneyear later, the business diversified its operations by setting up a new companyspecialising in mass access control and ticketing systems, TswelopeleSolutions, headed up by Daki Nkanyane. Today, Tswelopele Engineering serves the electricity supply industry in South Africaand neighbouring countries. Madondo acts as Tswelopele Group CEO, and is at thehelm of a black-owned and predominantly black managed and staffed business thathas established itself as one of the country’s top suppliers of voltageregulators, surge arresters and auto-reclosers.

The company set itself apart by investingin research and development. “The only way to survive was to stop being areseller and to create and develop our own intellectual property. SouthAfricans tend to import everything when we should be developing our ownproducts.” Since 2003, Tswelopele has been ISO9001:2000 certified. Madondo is proud of this achievement, as the standardprovides a tried and tested framework for taking a systematic approach tomanaging an organisation’s processes so that it’s products consistently satisfycustomer expectations. Looking ahead, Tswelopele Group is aimingto share its good fortune by acting as a start-up incubator. “Jobs are diminishing,but opportunities are increasing,” says Madondo. “Entrepreneurship is the onlyway to create employment in this country and because we have learnt so muchabout the highs and lows of business, we are optimally placed to help otherswho are just starting out.” Contact: +27 11 315 7104;

Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.


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



Prev1 of 26


“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:

Prev1 of 26

Continue Reading


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.

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

Continue Reading

Company Posts

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




Vital Stats

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.


“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.

Continue Reading



Recent Posts

Follow Us

We respect your privacy. 
* indicates required.