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Interview With Hangman Backer Bonang Mohale

Mohale will be one of four ‘Backers’ in Cell C’s new online reality show, Hangman, and will be helping to decide who will walk away with R1 million and a chance to let their innovation fly.

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Aspiration, responsibility and a restless energy are some of the traits that Bonang Mohale, former Chairman of Shell South Africa Energy Ltd and newly appointed CEO of Business Leadership South Africa, wants to see in innovators. Mohale will be one of four ‘Backers’ in Cell C’s new online reality show, Hangman, and will be helping to decide who will walk away with R1 million and a chance to let their innovation fly.

Mohale is widely viewed as one of the most respected leaders in corporate South Africa and his story is one of self-determination, hard work and ambition.

Mohale grew up in Katlehong on the East Rand during the apartheid years. Despite his humble beginnings, Mohale says he owes a good start in life to “probably the best township school under Apartheid at that time” where the teachers had a real passion to educate their learners.

Related: R1 Million On Offer In New Cell C Original Reality Show ‘Hangman’ Hosted By Maps Maponyane

“We had a sense of self responsibility, of fervour, of aspiration to inspire for better; the restlessness to be better tomorrow than today, a sense of responsibility,” says Mohale. And this is what he bases his Hangman criteria on.

Mohale initially wanted to become a medical doctor and applied at Wits University so – as he puts it – “I could compete with white students.” But his heart was in the upliftment of the thousands of underprivileged and disadvantaged young South Africans, and moved to a career in management.

“So I went and worked for a pharmaceutical company and became a professional sales representative. That was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life – to leave medicine,” says Mohale.

He progressed through various positions and in 1996, he secured a spot at OTIS – the world’s largest and oldest elevator company.

“So here I am a boy from Katlehong managing the world’s biggest and oldest elevator company present in 223 countries and employing 210 000 people. We employed black lift mechanics at the time that they didn’t exist and we gave them a four-year apprenticeship. There was initial resistance. There was one client who originally did not like black people to service his lifts and so I sent him eight black women who were excellent and ever since then he’s become one of my greatest friends. He experienced firsthand that when people are well trained they apply themselves and they are ambitious and conscious of the opportunity that they have; they aren’t lazy, they are hard working.”

He then moved to Sanlam before being appointed at Shell.

Mohale admits that he has always been an activist and even today he looks at the system and wants to take it on to improve the qualities of lives of most South Africans and to be the champion of the change that he wants to see. Poverty, racism, gender equality, LGBTI discrimination – these are all issues that he wants to change for the better.

Related: The One Question You Must Be Prepared To Answer When Pitching Investors

“Transformation is more than just breaking with the past; it’s about creating a future that bares no resemblance to that which replaces it. I’ve always found transformation to be profound, uprooting something and replacing it with something that is better and that is for the benefit of the majority of the population.”

Mohale has a strong passion for innovation and entrepreneurship. “I take this notion of entrepreneurship seriously. Small and medium enterprises create jobs. In South Africa, we have a problem because we have more people on social grants than those that are unemployed so the math doesn’t add up. Five percent of our people are responsible for our tax revenue. It’s an unsustainable system and it needs to be helped.

“A show like Hangman allows us to focus on people who are passionate about starting their own businesses and help them transform themselves from being employees to being employers. And that helps create jobs. That’s why I wanted to get involved to see that we can plant the seed through a pebble in the pond and start a chain reaction. Let’s think, lets innovate, let’s take risks.”

So how does he want to be remembered?

“I want to be remembered as a professional and effective businessman who produced good results. I also want to be remembered as a person who took time for his community because we want to lift as we rise and lastly as someone who was at peace with his own skin and not trying to be anything that he’s not.”

Hangman – a unique fast-paced online reality show which aims to uncover South Africa’s greatest innovator – starts streaming online from October 9 to December 11. The stakes are high in this revolutionary new programme with R1 million in prize money.


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FNB Sets Its Sights On Growing Female Entrepreneurs In South Africa

First National Bank looks to grow women entrepreneurship in South Africa.

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FNB has set its sights on growing women owned and led businesses in South Africa, a commitment that has seen the bank enter into partnerships to facilitate mentorship for some of the most promising enterprises.

The bank has a good foundation to build on, as 38% of all new business accounts opened with FNB Business are either led or owned by women, highlighting an already established entrepreneurial momentum.

“We are cognisant of the fact that neither government nor corporate South Africa are going to be the sole sources of job creation. We therefore have an obligation to support and grow entrepreneurship. Partnerships such as the one entered into with International Finance Corporation (IFC) enables us to assist in developing women owned business,” says Michelle Geraghty, Head of Women in Business at FNB Business.

Over the last few years, FNB has, through a partnership with the Vumela Fund, assisted businesses such asSAIL, a leading skills and training institute that offers a range of qualifications to the public sector, and Toni Glass who produce a collection of world class tea, to not only scale effectively, but to bolster each of the business’s offering to market.

Related: Watch List: 50 Black African Women Entrepreneurs To Watch

“Our approach is to, much like we have done with the likes of Sail and Tony Glass, enable qualifying women owned businesses in their growth curve by offering help that includes transact, lending, investing and insuring solutions. This will include facilitating the registration of the business online via the FNB registrations system which links to CIPC, to Instant accounting and payroll solutions aimed at reducing operating costs for the business. This will also extend to support in the incubation stage of selected businesses through Vumela. We will carry this right through to private equity funding,” explains Geraghty.

Vumela was established as an innovative model that is aimed at filling the gaps in the current SME funding and support landscape. While Vumela is an SME growth fund, it also functions as the bank’s primary Enterprise Development and Supply Development vehicle, able to fulfil both SME funding and growth needs, and corporate ESD requirements, avenues that FNB will be making use of.

FNB also intends on tracking jobs created through these initiatives to ensure a trickledown effect that not only benefits the business owner but also increases the overall number of women participating in business in South Africa.

“The need to grow the number of women in business is one that if done correctly, can address many of the disparities and anguish that women continuously face. Access to fair opportunities to grow their businesses and in turn make a real impact on the South African economy,” concludes Geraghty.

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Great Bunch Of Entrepreneurs Make Top 10 In The Workspace/MiWay Competition

The top 10 in The Workspace/MiWay entrepreneur competition have been selected.

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After an intense four-month process, the top 10 contenders in The Workspace/MiWay Entrepreneur competition have been notified that they’re through to the next round. These entrepreneurs will pitch their businesses to the judges, who will then whittle down the number of contenders to five, from which the winner will be chosen.

“There has been great excitement over the past four months. As every single new entry came in, we would clap our hands and cheer,” said Mari Schourie, CEO of The Workspace. It was a tough job judging all the entries to reach the top 20 submissions, she said, before having to find the top 10.

“We’ve had really strong entries submitted by people with good business knowledge,” said Schourie. “You can see the willingness to work hard and the great amount of effort they have put into their initiatives.”

Schourie said judges saw “wonderful ideas and fabulous business minds and quality people with big dreams shine through the entries”.

The top 10 are:

  1. Loyal 1
  2. Dwyka Mining Services
  3. Minatlou Trading 251
  4. Sindis Best for all
  5. Convergence Three
  6. Zinde Zinde
  7. Matla Risk Management
  8. Artsort Trading
  9. Iconic Talent Agency
  10. Nthedikgwadi Transport Services

Related: How to Name (Or In Some Cases, Rename) Your Company

Schourie said she wished she could tell President Cyril Ramaphosa, who supports the growth of small business as an economic driver, “the ideas and the passion that these business owners have is inspiring and should be focused on more”.

The prize on offer – worth over R350 000 – will help set-up the winning entrepreneur for a period of 12 months, giving them a boost to help build their business.

Morné Stoltz, Head of Business Insurance at MiWay, said the theme that ran throughout the entries was that entrepreneurs wanted to make a difference and contribute to positive change in South Africa. “Many of the submissions focused on technical and developmental fields,” he said.

“Entrepreneurs recognise gaps in the market and see the potential for growth. Getting into the top 10 was not at all easy.”

Stoltz said South Africa had a “great bunch of entrepreneurs” and that standing together to give them a platform to launch was an exciting opportunity. “To grow our economy we need to help with skills development and give whatever assistance we can,” he said.

Part of the finalists’ road to the top includes a skills development programme for the top 10 entrants ahead of their important date to pitch their business plans to the judges.

As Schourie pointed out, it is vital to encourage South African citizens to act on their dreams and passions because “it can be a great success; they just need make that leap”.

Dates to watch:

  • 21 June: Top 10 skills development programme
  • 3 July: Top 10 pitches
  • 6 July: Top 5 announcement
  • 20 July: Final five workshops
  • 10 August: Final five pitches
  • 13 September: Winner announced

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Top 22 Start-ups Chosen For Final Selection Days – Startupbootcamp Africa

After receiving 1,004 applications from all over the world, the SBC team in conjunction with the programme’s corporate sponsors have narrowed the applicants down to 22 top-tier tech start-ups that will be invited to the Final Selection Days on July 11th and 12th at PwC’s headquarters in Cape Town.

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SBC Africa received 1,004 total applications from 77 countries on 5 continents. The start-ups that applied were exceptionally impressive and have gained more traction in the market than the applicants for the 2017 cohort. The talent in Africa is phenomenal and the corporate sponsors and SBC team dedicated 2 weeks to narrow it down to the Top 22 to be invited to Final Selection Days.

“It’s been an intense process due to the exceptionally high calibre of start-ups applying to the programme from across the continent,” states Philip Kiracofe, co-founder and CEO of Startupbootcamp Africa. “From 1,004 applications we have managed to narrow down to 22 of the most creative teams tackling daunting African problems. One of the key differentiators for start-ups that participate in the SBC Accelerator is the opportunity to secure commercial contracts with our sponsors. In order to make it onto our Top 22, each start-up has been chosen by at least 2 sponsors for potential proof of concept projects. The 2018 cohort is already shaping up to be a milestone moment for Africa.”

Related: How to Name (Or In Some Cases, Rename) Your Company

Zachariah George, co-founder and Chief Investment Officer of Startupbootcamp Africa added, “The investment community across Africa is taking note of the significant traction and access to market that being an alumni of a global accelerator programme like ours provides. We are excited to further galvanize venture capital funding into tech startups through significant de-risking of business models and customer validation with our corporate partners globally.”

From the 22 teams that have been invited to the SBC Africa Final Selection Days, 10 will be selected to join the 2018 cohort. Over the span of the two Final Selection Days, the startups in attendance will have the opportunity to present their pitches to high-profile corporate sponsors, investors, thought leaders and industry experts and will have the chance to sit down with mentors and sponsors alike. At the end of Day Two, the Top 10 will be announced and will be welcomed to the Cape Town-based Accelerator that kicks off in August. During the 3-month period, they will have the opportunity to scale at an incredible pace and seal pilot and proof of concept deals with the corporate sponsors to the programme.

The SBC Africa Accelerator is anchored and endorsed by heavyweight corporate sponsors RCS, BNP Paribas Personal Finance, Nedbank, Old Mutual and PwC.

“We’ve seen an increase in the quality of start-ups applying to the programme. The awareness of the value of the programme has increased and the success of the first year of the bootcamp speaks for itself. More mature start-ups are also seeing the benefits of participating in Startupbootcamp Africa,” comments Stanley Gabriel, Head of Innovation at Old Mutual.

The Top 22 start-ups invited to the Final Selection Days come from 7 different countries. The numbers are as follows: 8 from Nigeria, 5 from South Africa, 3 from Uganda, 2 from the Ivory Coast, 2 from Kenya, 1 from Ghana and 1 from Ireland.

Related: Entrepreneurship Is All About Overcoming Obstacles

The names of the start-ups invited to Final Selection Days by country:

  • Nigeria: Bankly Technologies, Biyabot, CredPal, FriendsVow, Kudimoney Bank, Medikal HMS, NebulaPay, and ZEEZZ Planet Solutions.
  • South Africa: Brandbookalytics Big Data, ifileme, LÜLA, Prospa, and Akiba Digital
  • Uganda: CoinPesa Ltd, RoundBob Uganda, and Swipe 2 Pay
  • Ivory Coast: Digitech Group, and DISTRICASH
  • Kenya: Kakbima, and MPost
  • Ghana: Inclusive Financial Technologies
  • Ireland: Pago Payments

It has been an incredible 3-month scouting journey for SBC Africa and now that the Top 22 have been announced, the Final Selection Days is the only hurdle left before the Accelerator officially kicks off on 13 August 2018.

There are high expectations for the Top 10 of 2018 and if the quality of the start-ups at this stage is any indication, 2018 is set to be a great success for the African tech and innovation ecosystem.

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