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Siza Mzimela launches Fly Blue Crane, first Black Woman owned airline

Fly Blue Crane takes to the skies

On 1 September, South Africa’s latest airline, Fly Blue Crane, launched services from Johannesburg. The carrier will initially operate services from the city to Bloemfontein, Kimberley and Nelspruit according to the airline’s flight schedule. Celebrating the service launch along with two of the crew is Siza Mzimela, the airline’s CEO and also founder and Executive Chairperson of Blue Crane Aviation.
Fly Blue Crane Kimberley
Touchdown in Kimberley. Flights from Johannesburg will operate 18 times weekly according to the airline’s flight schedule, and will face direct competition from SA Express which operates 28 weekly flights on the 452-kilometre sector according to OAG Schedules Analyser.
Nelspruit Fly Blue Crane
On 7 September, Fly Blue Crane launched services on the 299-kilometre sector between Johannesburg and Nelspruit (our data elves have confirmed that this is where the photo was taken). Flights on the city pair will operate 12 times weekly.
  • Fly Blue Crane is the latest airline to launch in South Africa. The carrier commenced services on the 1 September from Johannesburg (JNB) to Bloemfontein (BFN) and Kimberley (KIM), with service to the former operating 30 times weekly and the latter seeing 18 weekly flights. These routes were then followed by operations to Nelspruit (MQP) which launched on 7 September, a 299-kilometre sector that will be flown 12 times weekly. What is interesting to note is that flights will be operated under IATA code 7B, which was previously held by Krasnoyarsk Airlines. All routes will be operated by ERJ 145s, of which the airline currently has two. Flights to Bloemfontein will face direct competition in the form of SA Express and CemAir, while the sector to Kimberley sees direct competition from SA Express only. Nelspruit services will compete with SA Airlink. Commenting on the future outlook for the airline, Siza Mzimela, Fly Blue Crane CEO, said that the carrier’s online ticket sales were picking up and also added: “We hope to expand our flight destinations to Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo. We currently have two 50-seat ERJ 145s. The airline will aim to keep its current rates in order to make flying affordable for both business and leisure travel.” She added also that while major airports in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town were over-catered, Fly Blue Crane had noted a gap in the market in cities such as Kimberley.

Dr Simon Gicharu founder of Mount Kenya University

Dr Simon Gicharu  founder of Mount Kenya University

By Elizabeth Buhungiro
Sep. 22, 2015 (All Africa Global Media) -- Dr Simon Gicharu is the founder of Mount Kenya University. With 16 centres and campuses in East and Central Africa, including Rwanda, Mount Kenya University is one of the largest private universities in the two regions. This year, Dr Gicharu scooped the Eastern Africa EY Entrepreneur of the Year, and was inducted into the World Entrepreneur of the Year Hall of Fame. He spoke to Business Times' Elizabeth Buhungiro about his entrepreneurship journey:
How did your entrepreneurship journey begin?
Having acquired a Bachelor of Education from Jomo Kenyatta University in 1990, I was taken on as a part-time lecturer. I also taught applied mathematics at Thika Technical Training Institute (TTTI). However, I had always admired the hard work my father and his peers put into their small businesses. Therefore, I started the Kenya Entrepreneurship Promotion Programme (KEPP) to support them.
In 1995, I got a British Aid to Small Enterprises (BASE) scholarship for a three-month short course on how to manage enterprise development at Cranfield University. On my return, I discovered that I had been suspended from my job because I had not formally asked for leave.
Jobless, with a young family to cater for, I decided to venture into self-employment to earn a living.
How were you able to afford to start a business?
I started small... My initial start-up capital amounted to Ksh20,000 ($220), which was personal savings. Initially, I bought an old pickup truck and I started selling milk. I must say it felt demeaning. I had been lecturer only a few months before, but now here I was, lifting crates of milk. However, I continued to draw inspiration from my father, who had always worked hard to put food on the table.
Why invest in education?
Education had always been my passion. I loved education so much so that even when I became an entrepreneur, it was my sector of choice. Even while I was doing the milk business, I was still training young entrepreneurs through KEPP. This was in the mid-90s when computer literacy was beginning to take shape. To equip young people in our locality with computer skills I bought two computers and a generator because I was operating in a rural setting with no electricity.
Tell us about Mount Kenya University
I wanted to make the computer training formal, but it was clear that with two computers I would not make it. In 2000, I rented a room at TTTI, bought three more computers and started Thika School of Management Studies. I collaborate with Kenya Institute of Management for accreditation. However, I realised later that management courses were not attracting students. So, I decided to introduce health sciences, in 2003 and changed the name of the school to Thika Institute of Technology. The following year, I used my savings, school fees and a bank loan and moved the school to new premises.
In 2008, I applied and was granted permission to convert it to a university, and the university got a charter in 2011.
Any lessons from your entrepreneurship journey?
I have learnt many things; first, starting and maintaining a business requires critical thinking, persistence and focus. You have to be focused, like a lion chasing its prey, when you are still trying to grow the business.
Many opportunities may come your way, but you have to ask yourself how they will benefit the business. Another important thing is humility. You will always need people no matter how successful you are. Success requires being associated with people. Therefore, stay grounded no matter what you achieve.
Why did you decide to invest in Rwanda?
The return of the East African Community made it easy to work and invest in the different countries in the region. I was attracted to Rwanda because I had read some World Bank reports about the ease with which one could start and do business in the country. Moreover, Rwanda has a streamlined, well-structured and functioning system. Once you comply with the law, nobody will bother you.
In your view, when can one be considered as successful?
Most people think that you are successful when you have a lot of money. However, success is all about self-actualisation. You can say you are successful when what you have pursued is now a legacy and when other people's lives are better because of what you started. Personally, when I see students from Mount Kenya University building their careers and lives, I consider myself successful.
On becoming a teacher
During my school days, teachers had a good life. I used to admire their children and the way they looked nourished and smartly dressed. I wished for that kind of life and, that is why I decided to become a teacher.
Growing up in central Kenya
I was born in December 1964, in a rural village called Gathiruini in Central Province, Kenya. I am the firstborn of seven children. My parents are peasant farmers. For my primary and lower secondary, I had to walk about 15 kilometres to school, but joined a boarding school in high school. My father would pay school fees using income from coffee farming, but it was not enough. Therefore, my siblings and I used to pick coffee in people's farms to supplement it.

Copyright The New Times. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (

Antonio Oladeinde-Fernandez Nigeria's Reclusive Billionaire

Nigeria’s business magnate and one of the richest men in Africa, Chief Antonio Oladeinde Fernandez, died on Tuesday, September 1, in Brussels, Belgium, at the age of 79.
Sources close to the family, who however expressed shock in his sudden demise, said he died of an age-related ailment.
We share some stunning photos about the life and times of the deceased Diplomat and permanent representative of Central African Republic to the United Nations. Source: Dele Momodu/Twitter
A younger Fernandez
Fernandez (right) with his last wife, Halima
Fernandez, with Halima in his Kano home
Fernandez inside his private jet with Halima. He was said to have six of them
A turbaned Fernandez
Fernandez (right) with former US President George Bush (senior)
Fernandez (right) with his family when he invited Africa’s icon, Nelson Mandela (left) on his eye-popping island in New York

Publisher of Ovation Magazine, Dele Momodu shares the luxury of billionaire Fernandez, when Fernandez invited him from London for lunch in Edinburgh, Scotland. Momodu (left) with Fernandez (right)

Fernandez and his daughter, Bimbola, a.k.a Bim, a singer based in New York

A portrait of Fernandez as a member of the Ogboni Confraternity
YEMOJA, the ocean-going yacht owned by Fernandez. Its details is available on for charter

Inside Yemoja

Fernandez island home in New York , United States

He is 76 years old. He Is A Billionaire. Reputed To Have Not One, But SIX Private Jets. He Owns A Chateau In France, Once Occupied By Napoleon Bonaparte, The Emperor Of France. Friend Of Mobutu. Ally Of Kofi Annan. Associate Of Mandela. I Call Him The Emperor of Blinding Swagger. Terrific Swagger. He Is So Classy That Whenever He Enters A Restaurant To Eat, Everyone Else Must Leave Because He Cannot Eat With The 'Commoners'. He Takes Over Entire Restaurants For The Night To Avoid Encountering 'RiffRaff'. (Chai! Poor Man Don Suffer). Of All The Richest Nigerians I Know, None Comes Close To This Man When It Comes To The Level Of Style, 'Tooshness' & Money-Backed Aloofness. But Who Is He? How He Made His Money? His Marriages? Why He Left His House For A Hotel?

Welcome to the world of one of Africa's richest men: HIS EXCELLENCY, OLUWO ANTONIO OLADEINDE FERNANDEZ, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Permanent Representative (see his writings to the President of the United Nations Security Council and United Nations Secretary General on behalf of President Ange-Félix Patassé of the Central African Republic in 1998 in the pictures). When it comes to the most impressive and exuberant display of the splendour of wealth, Fernandez dusts them all -by miles. The name 'Fernandez' is Portuguese in origin and shows that he is of the popular Fernandez family of Lagos. Historical accounts show that the Fernandezes were originally descendants of freed slaves from Brazil, where Portuguese is the official language. Some of the first modern-styled buildings in Lagos were built by the Fernandezes, and these buildings are known for their spectacular Brazilian architecture. Portuguese navigators were also the first European explorers to reach Lagos State. Actually, they gave the state the name 'Lagos'

For Ovation magazine to feature a man in 40 pages says a lot about his prestigious standing. Very secretive (not in a bad way or let me say he guards his privacy jealously) and aloof (he very rarely comes to Nigeria where he is from), this is one rich man in a class and mansion of his own -with no rivals but maybe a few big cats. His wealth has dazed and fazed many, and left even many more speechless. ANTONIO DEINDE FERNANDEZ. Okay, enough of that. Let's get some bits on him:

-He is the perfect combination of a diplomat (you can also refer to that as ambassador), businessman and yes, a gentleman. He is multilingual, tall and dark (yeah, take a look at the pix again, will you?)

-Even though he is Nigerian, he was appointed the Permanent Representative of Central African Republic (CAR) at the United Nations in 1997 (ain't that classy?, but with the current turmoil in CAR, with former President Francois Bozize fleeing the nation, things are hazy). -Fernandez is said to have interests in the CAR's oil industry (at a time, he was the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Central African Republic). That does not include his bauxite (for aluminum) exports, gold mines (in Angola) and diamonds pits. He owns Petro Inett, an oil company. Petro Inett is just one of them. He also has shares in View, Sandcat Petroleum, Sanantonio, Goldfields, Voguehope, Grantdalem Inuola, Sandcat Goldfields (cat, cat, now I understand those two, Woods and Petro Inett Equatorial Guinea.

-Before then, he had served as the Special Adviser to the President of Mozambique on International Economic Matters and from 1992-1995, he was the Ambassador-at-Large for the Republic of Togo and Angola.

-He was also once the Consul for Benin Republic (then Republic of Dahomey) (1966), made the Economic Advisor to the Angolan Government in 1982 (just for perspective, only Nigeria produces more oil than Angola in Africa, shey you gerrit?). To be specific, he was a long-time adviser to President José Eduardo dos Santos of Angola (he’s been ruling since 1975).

In 1984, he was the Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of Mozambique to the United Nations. At a point, he was a Deputy Minister of Finance in Swaziland.

-He has houses in Kano, built a tower for himself in Lagos (where he was born in 1936), New York (where he is said to stay almost permanently), Scotland, France, Belgium and the United Kingdom. But that’s not all, he has accounts in the Cayman Islands, France, Switzerland (I love that country joor), Ireland, Hong Kong, Scotland and the United States. Don’t ask me of Nigeria.

-He surrounds himself with the finest, classiest and the most exquisite things that money can buy.

In a divorce case with one of his former wives, it was revealed that he splashed 200,000 British Pounds on his seven-storey townhouse to buy 1,000 books of gold leaf to ‘toosh’ up the already ‘tooshed’ cornices and balustrades.

-A high chief of the Ogboni Confraternity, he is highly revered in his Yorubaland and his family motto is: Aguntan meji kii mumi ninu koto kan na (see images for the insignia). Okay, what that simply means is that two rams cannot drink from the same container. Or some people will say, there cannot be two captains on a ship.

-He once married (some reports insist they were only romantically linked) the Erelu of Lagos, Abiola Dosumu but they fell apart and the Erelu of Lagos has since stopped using his name, Fernandez.

Today, he is married to a beauty from Kano State. Her name? Haleema, and has a daughter, Mahreyah. She is said to be of the Alhaji Muhammadu Maude (also known as Maude Tobacco) family of Kano. Alhaji Maude was the Presidential Liaison Officer for Kano State during the Shehu Shagari presidency. A wealthy businessman, he made attempts to become governor of Kano State in the 1980s but lost even though his campaign was one of the most colourful and was associated with the use of yan banga, local thugs.

In 2012, he denied reuniting with Aduke, his former wife. The chief thundered: ‘It’s a big lie. It will never happen, even in a million years.’

-He owns one of the most luxurious homes in Kano State (with one of the largest horse stables and farms in Nigeria, one of the Boko Haram battles in January 2012 during which the pregnant wife of one of the Boko Haram leaders was reportedly killed, was close to his property). But the house is now said to be falling apart. Well, he doesn’t stay at home! He finished from Cambridge University and Columbia University (business degree) and has been using private jets long before people like Dangote and what is the name of that man again o….ehen! Adenuga! started dreaming of a billion dollars.

-He has been in the diplomatic business since 1966 so billions are not new to him. He has direct contacts to some of the most powerful world leaders, business executives and entrepreneurs. He is said to be very close to leaders like Nelson Mandela and George Walker Bush -and they address themselves by the first names. He surely pulls the strings. At a time, he wanted to sue a decorating firm for publishing the pictures of one of his properties that they had worked on. Okay o.

-A very deft diplomat was also instrumental to the Bangui Agreements of 1997. He has denied having any links with the Nkomati Accords signed in 1984 between Mozambique and South Africa, to which some have given him credits. He gave brilliant speeches at the United Nations, and below is an excerpt:

Mr. Fernandez (Central African Republic) I take pleasure in congratulating Mr. Opertti on his election to the presidency of the General Assembly at its fifty-third session, and I pledge my delegation’s full cooperation. I commend his predecessor, Mr. Udovenko, for bringing the fifty-second session of the General Assembly to a successful conclusion. I take great pleasure in expressing my pride in our Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan. His leadership and many achievements during the short period of his tenure are highly commendable. Just as this session of the General Assembly coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it also coincides, providentially, with the fiftieth anniversary of the commencement of peacekeeping operations by the United Nations.

These coincidences are striking because, while one was envisaged in the Charter of our Organization and was the subject of painstaking negotiations, the other was a chance development, not having been envisaged in the Charter. Yet both have had a profound effect on the influence of the United Nations in global affairs and on the perception of the Organization by those whom it was established to serve and who were identified in the opening words of the Charter as “We the peoples of the United Nations”.

The double celebration this year should also enable us to appreciate better the interrelationship between human rights and peacekeeping. There can be no question of human rights being enjoyed in a situation of conflict. Put another way, conflicts create conditions for the most outrageous violations of human rights, since, contrary to all international law and rationality, the most vulnerable in society — children, women and the aged — are often targeted and deprived of the most basic of human rights, the right to life.

As we define and refine our Organization’s responsibilities in peacekeeping, which, by common consent, is now taken in its broadest sense to mean the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts, let us always be conscious that the universal enjoyment of human rights, one of the major aspirations of humanity, cannot and will not be achieved unless we devote as much effort to the elimination of the conditions that provoke the violation of those rights.

I believe that it is with this fact in mind that international organizations, whether global, regional or subregional, have been devoting considerable time to devising effective means of preventing, managing and resolving conflicts in their various area of competence. Of course, the United Nations, with its unique role as the only global Organization invested with authority for the maintenance of international peace and security, is, appropriately, taking the lead in these efforts….

-In 1987, his American wife of 25 years, Barbara J. Fernandez, filed for divorce, and the proceedings of the case was at the Supreme Court of the State of Connecticut (Barbara Fernandez v. Antonio Deinde Fernandez (13283) and the case ‘involved the applicability of the doctrine of diplomatic immunity to an action for marital dissolution and equitable property distribution.’ As at the time of the divorce, Barbara Fernandez stated ‘an international businessman and diplomat who has admitted to being one of the richest men in Africa. He heads dozens of companies, and I believe his net worth exceeds $75 million.’ She (plaintiff) also stated that, in her opinion ‘the defendant could easily sell or transfer assets that are relevant to her claims for relief.’ (Fernandez vs. Fernandez).

-Ambassador Antonio Deinde Fernandez ‘claimed diplomatic immunity by virtue of his status as an ambassador to the United Nations for the People’s Republic of Mozambique’, and moved that the court dismiss the entire suit for lack of personal jurisdiction. A waiver was later provided, and the full text of the waiver went thus, providing: ‘Limited Waiver of Immunity.’ ‘Pursuant to Article 32 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, the People’s Republic of Mozambique hereby waives the immunity extended by the United States of America to Ambassador Antonio Deinde Fernandez under the provisions of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations to the following limited and restricted extent only…’

One very unique thing about this Yoruba high chief is that unlike many other moneybags in Nigeria today, he did not make his money in Nigerian public office but rather by working as a suave and most talented diplomat FOR other nations of the globe, at a time when IBB and others were struggling over coups to rule Nigeria, he was already dealing with governments one-on-one. He has no traceable business or investment in Nigeria and stays virtually permanently outside the country (na your money o but nothing for we people of Nigeria,not even a tashere foundation or school tabi hospital. No lele o, Baba God at the top is watching all of us on His Samsung Galaxy). It is quite unfortunate that quite little is known about him (haha, I know how much I wrote on Adenuga na…lol!) because of intense privacy (which he has every right to), and what that means is that we may never know his real worth. At any rate, I stick to Forbes and Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index which lists Aliko Dangote as the richest black person on the third planet in the Solar System. Maybe a day will come when the Big Masquerade, the Afobaje (Kingmaker), the Custodian of Prosperity & Panache, Olori Ogboni Agba (Supreme Ogboni Chief) and Olori Oluwo (Head of the Occult) of Lagos, will come out and displace the Kano tycoon. If that day comes, this piece will be rewritten. Let’s take a good look at some of his titles, honours and awards (he is a tribal Yoruba chief and said to be one of the most prominent members of the Ogboni Confraternity):


-His Imperial Highness Garsan Fulanin Kano (Kano State, Nigeria).

-Baron of Dudley (England). -Grand Officier de l’Ordre National du Leopard (Grand Officer of the National Order of the Leopard, the Democratic Republic of Congo)

-Grand Officier de l’Ordre du Merite Centrafricain (Grand Officer of the Order of Merit, Central African Republic).

-Grand Officier de l’Ordre du Mono (Grand Officer of the Order of Mono, Togo).

-Commandeur de l’Ordre National du Merite du Gabon (Commander of the National Order of Merit, Gabon).

-Officier du Ouissam Alaouite (Officer of the Ouissam Alaouite, Morocco where the descendants of the Alaouite dynasty rule as kings. The present is King Sidi Mohammed VI)

Thanks for your time.

How South Africa Vice President Cyril Ramaphosa obtained his billion dollar wealth

Cyril Ramaphosa was selected by the ANC to become a major beneficiary in empowerment deals. He was one of a few. These deals where aimed at creating wealth outside of the ANC formal structures. The reason was to firstly entrust selected individuals to gain access to not only substantial wealth but also to ensure that such beneficiaries would donate substantial moneys to the ANC .

The ANC aimed to fund it self via selected and well positioned cardes placed within the private sector.
This was done firstly to create a funding loophole which could not be done within the ANC as the capitals raised were from within its own alliance. Secondly it ensured that the ANC would not need to rely on other companies to raise funds which could have become a risk if the private sector colluded against the ANC. Thirdly it would provide a mechanism for broad based ownership on the JSE and link private sector companies to the ANC
For this reason Ramaphosa resigned in 1996 as Secretary General of the ANC .  At the time it was stated that he fell out of relations with Nelson Mandela for not being recognised as the successor when Thabo Mbeki. This was a smoke screen as you will see below
This is how it all went down
In 1996 Ramaphosa took position as Deputy Executive Chairman of New Africa Investments Limited (“Nail”) and resigned from the ANC.  NAIL invested R7 million to start up an investment banking company called Pleiade Investment Corporation.  Pleiade was in fact a vessel used to raise capital but “publicly it was a financial advisor” and “brokered” an investment deal between SBC communications and MTN. SBC communication simultaneously entered into a joint venture investing R25m into Pleiade Investment corporation which was renamed AMB Capital.
In 1996 AMB capital acted as “advisory” to a R2.7 billion broad based empowerment deal in which the National Empowerment Corporation/Consortium (NEC) took a control in Johnnic Holdings Limited. Not only did AMB capital act as advisory but it also raised capital to the value of R2.1 billion for certain members of the National Empowerment Consortium to acquire a controlling stake in Johnnic Holdings Limited (Mutlichoice, Mnet, Hotels and Casinos).
The members of NEC mostly came from the labour unions, its pension funds and is also where most of the capital were raised (Full funding details was never made public). The R2.1 billion was mostly raised out of Labour Unions pension funds. As part of this acquisition, AMB Capital “put forward” Ramaphosa for the position of Chairman to Johnnic holdings. Considering Ramaphosa’s history with labour unions it can been seen why he was needed within the deal structure.
They were using Labour Union member pension funds in equity deals. Within 1996 (Same year Ramaphosa resigned from the ANC and AMB Capital was created) AMB Capital raised a further R1.3 billion for Ikageng Share scheme, AMB Southern African Investment fund and AMB Holdings (Parent company of AMB capital).
Various deals took place with various investment companies being created and by the end of 1997 the above broad based deals took a stake of 10% of the total listed JSE shares. When considering and acknowledge the Afrikaner took close to 20 years to achieve the same level of ownership on the JSE.
Most of the broad-based deals was structured as preferential shares varying between 3 -8% discount to listed share price values. It also saw many of these companies secure lucrative deals with Government.
Over the next decade all these broad-based deals saw Ramaphosa elected into various Executive and Non-Executive positions on the largest firms listed on the JSE. Thes roles Ramaphosa occupied helped favour these companies with government contracts and helped level their BEE status.
To mention a few positions:
Alexander Forbes South Africa, Black Economic Empowerment Commission, Johnnic Holdings Limited, KreditInform (Pty) Limited, Sasria SOC Limited, Vancut Diamond Works
Deputy Chairman
Rebserve Holdings Limited
Executive Chairman
Millennium Consolidated Investments (Pty) Limited, Shanduka Group
Independent Director
Independent Non-Executive Director
Non-executive Chairman
Non Executive Director
Vice Chairman
 Commonwealth Business Council
Ramaphosa acquired substantial wealth forming part of so many executive roles within JSE listed companies. He no doubt gained substantial wealth form preferential share options. I however think it would be unfair to say that Ramaphosa did not work for his wealth. He was certainly advantage based on the circumstances of the time.
Considering the turn of apartheid, questions will remain how fair and how beneficial these deals were. Questions would be asked how much money did the ANC raise for its election campaigns and many other questions will follow. Based on our countries diversity, biased opinions and factions, the answers to these questions would certainly be polarised.
I however must say that I am disappointed that 3 years into democracy black ownership on the JSE was already at a total of 10% and today ownership is questioned. Considering that almost half of the JSE share value is foreign owned it means after three years of democracy local ownership saw almost 20% in the hands of the previously disadvantaged.
Today we have stagnated and argue who owns what. What is not argued is the wealth of RSA billionaires such as Ramaphosa. It does leave a hollow feeling that this wealth has been obtained on the back of low income earners invested pension funds. Have those poor income earners pension funds gained wealth at the same rate as Ramaphosa?
That is a question only Cyril can answer.

Meet Lere Mgayiya – SA’s shoe-shine Millionaire

Lere's Shoe Shine is the largest shoe-shining business in Africa, with a turnover of over R2,5 million a year. We chat to Lere Mgayiya about how he turned a small idea into a huge success
Lere’s Shoe Shine is located in five of SA’s major airports and has become a favourite stop-off for business travellers from across the world.
Mgayiya’s first job was distributing boarding cards for South African Airways, but after five years he switched to negotiating with various farmers for his uncle’s livestock transportation business. When this didn’t work out long term, he used the network of farmers he had developed over the years to start a business supplying eggs to the South African parliament. While a great idea, he didn’t earn enough to make a decent living, so Mgayiya invested money he won on a game show into a tree planting business. He lost everything within six months.
Down and out, but not discouraged, he spotted a man shining shoes at Greenmarket Square in Cape Town and discovered he earned about R3 000 a month. This was a lightbulb moment for Mgayiya, who saw an opportunity for a viable business model.
First he had to work out where such a business would make the most profit, and he could think of no better place than the airport, through which a steady stream of people pass, 24 hours a day.
In 2002 he approached Umsobomvu Youth Fund, an organisation established to offer support to young entrepreneurs. They helped him put create a business plan, which he presented to the Cape Town International Airport to apply for a stand in the terminal. Approval was only granted a year later, in November 2003.
Mgayiya had to sell his TV, radio and fridge to raise the capital to buy two shoe-shine chairs.
“I had one guy working for me when I started, so there were two of us shining shoes and we worked 18 hours a day, six days a week,” he recalls. “In our first month we made a profit of R9 000, which we did not expect at all; we’d expected only about R4 000.”

Every day for the first two months he left home at 4am, got to the airport at 5am and would only get home at around 10pm. By the third month, he was able to buy two more chairs and employ more people.
“It was amazing, every time we increased the capacity, the customers came,” Mgayiya says.
The company was initially called Airport Shoe Shine, but the name was quickly changed.
“Because the customers were engaging with Lere, they didn’t want to support Airport Shoe Shine. They kept coming to me, telling me that Airport Shoe Shine made the business seem impersonal, when it was, in fact, the complete opposite,” Mgayiya shares.
It was amazing, every time we increased the capacity, the customers came
This exceptional personal service is part of the reason Lere’s Shoe Shine is the success it is today. ‘Lere’ becomes the customer’s friend, his personality becomes an experience and that experience keeps customers coming back.
“Every guy who works for me is also a ‘Lere’ as far as his characteristics and personality traits are concerned. He is welcoming, he is an old friend and he delivers,” says Mgayiya, adding that consistency is also vital.
“I consolidated the business and made it a brand, so the guys in Johannesburg do exactly what the guys in Cape Town do. That makes them a corporation and it makes the business more professional. Our guys are not just shoe shiners, they are sales people,” he explains.
The business is formalised, focused and well branded, and proper training is given to new staff. This is what has set Lere’s Shoe Shine apart from the rest.
“The guys earn by commission, meaning that they eat what they kill. This makes them want to grow their customer base and build relationships with specific customers. To do this, they deliver an above-average service, which positively contributes to the business’ brand,” says Mgayiya.
He is passionate about the development of others in his community.
“It is gratifying to be fulfilling my purpose, while at the same time uplifting other people. It’s amazing that I can make money while also making change.
“Our business is about trust and integrity, and in order for my employees to show that to the customers, they must first see it in me. It flows from me, to them, and it translates positively with the customers,” Mgayiya concludes.

Book: African Millionaires and How they Made their Wealth

African Millionaires and How they Made their Wealth: Stories of Successful African Business People and their Ventures that will Inspire, Encourage, and Motivate You

Godfrey Madanhire Dreamworld Promotions Zimbabwe South Africa

American comedian Demetri Martin once defined a life coach as “a really expensive friend with limited credentials”. That was almost a decade ago, and coaches are still the butt of many jokes today. Yet the industry has continued to grow massively, defying the eye rolls to make millionaires out of many people, including Godfrey Madanhire, the founder of South African company, Dreamworld Promotions.
Godfrey Madanhire
Godfrey Madanhire
Headquartered in Cape Town, Dreamworld Promotions sells motivational audio discs (written and presented by Madanhire) which are distributed to subscribers monthly. The company also holds events and workshops through which Madanhire provides inspiration to both individuals and major corporates.
Madanhire, who runs the award-winning company, says he is increasingly landing lucrative speaking opportunities. To drum up more gigs, Dreamworld recently established a dedicated sales division. From humble beginnings, the company now rakes in about R10m annually (about $830,000) and employs 50 permanent staff and 150 others.
Born in Zimbabwe, Madanhire was 26 when he arrived in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2000 to seek a better life for himself and his dependents back home. Back then he believed he could find greater fortunes in South Africa than his teaching job could ever offer.
In a recent conversation with How we made it in Africa, Madanhire talked about his journey so far.
Tell us about your first job when you arrived in South Africa.
I struggled to find work but didn’t give up because I was determined to keep the promises I’d made to my mother. I found a position with Premier Growth Group selling short-term insurance. Direct sales wasn’t my dream job, but I persevered and became successful. And it paid off – a few years later I was sent to open a new office in Cape Town. By 2006 I was managing 11 branches. I had achieved well beyond my wildest dreams and it was exciting.
What made you decide to become a life coach and motivational speaker?
I enjoyed motivating and sharing my experiences with my team and it was rewarding to see positive outcomes. It occurred to me that kind of reward does not come from being a branch manager, or even from your bank account. I needed to commit to an activity that would help me to transform lives, so in 2006 established my own company.
Looking back, were there signs this is the path you would follow?
Steve Jobs once said something very interesting – that we can only join the dots backwards. My life, when I look back, makes perfect sense now even though then it seemed like a puzzle that’s not connected at all. My work as a teacher and in insurance sales involved teaching, working with different people, advising and helping them achieve a different world view. When I was just 10 and growing up in a broken home, I stayed up many nights conjuring comforting and wise words to tell my mother in the morning.
What does a life coach really do?
Generally, we advise people on life. We aim to train clients to reach goals instead of just dreaming about them, and those objectives can include working in a family or business set-up – for example to get employees to buy into a founder’s vision or even motivating for better performance. To be a good coach and motivational speaker, you need a story to tell, to speak with passion and credibility, and to make personal connections. I think I have an exciting story to tell – a story of a person who started with nothing and created a profitable enterprise.
How big is the industry in South Africa? Do you see growth prospects for your company?
Life coaching is big business due to the pressures facing businesses in these hard economic times, and the myriad problems in our society. More business executives are increasingly looking for sources of honest feedback, and spaces where they can be challenged on their thinking and approach.
The speaking industry is lagging behind, compared with countries like the US and UK. More work is needed to bring more organisations on board.
We see exciting opportunities for our company going forward. We have already through commission-based agents made inroads in Namibia, Swaziland and Lesotho. In the short-term we plan to continue expanding in South Africa and to enter more Southern African countries and Kenya. We just need to establish a suitable and cost-effective mode of entry.
What can you share with aspiring entrepreneurs?
The most important thing is to find a business idea you are passionate about. Be an expert in your field. I have seen many small businesses fail because they didn’t have a firm grasp of their trade. Learn how to work and deal with other people, whether it’s your employees or customers. I believe dreams come true, but of course one has to work hard. One big challenge for businesses is staff retention, and I can testify to this. You’ve got to find creative ways of keeping employees. For example, at Dreamworld we help the employees to understand our vision – that it is not just about sales, but making a difference in people’s lives.
Your thoughts on xenophobia in South Africa and businesses that have been ruined due to the attacks?
Our society is in turmoil. Life coaches should be out there talking to people, reminding them of the concept of humanity. I can imagine the hopelessness felt by people who worked extremely hard to establish their businesses, only to wake up one day and it’s all gone. And just because someone feels that you were born in the wrong place. It’s not a trend we expected to see, and it doesn’t augur well for the country and the business climate. We need to start instilling the culture of humanity in young people. A good start is the classroom. Additionally, responsible and accountable leadership is important.
Looking across borders, insecurity is a concerning issue. I think people are taking out their anger and frustration on innocent people, and in terrible ways. We need to cultivate a culture of dialogue, to start believing in the power of conversation. And governments need to start taking people more seriously, addressing grievances rather than waiting for protests.

Ghanaian millionaire Patrick Awuah quits Microsoft to build university that Educates young Africans

VENTURES AFRICA – In a time where Africans still queue up at the embassies of foreign countries, with the hope of being granted visas into countries with ‘better living conditions’, a rare few like Patrick Awuah are sacrificing a life abroad to make a difference at home.
In 2001, after living in America for almost two decades, Patrick Awuah returned to Ghana, leaving his job at Microsoft, where he earned millions as program manager to set up Ashesi University in Accra, to educate young Africans. “If the current leadership core was educated a certain way, if they were problem solvers, if they had deep compassion for society, we would be in a different place,” he thought. Hence, Ashesi University is known for its innovative curriculum, high tech facilities, and strong emphasis on leadership. The University stirs a new path in African education.
In his TED Global talk in 2007, Patrick Awuah explains his call to educate Africa’s future leaders, and why he believes this is very important.
At the age of 16 in Ghana, Patrick Awuah had his first memorable experience of leadership. At the airport to meet his father, he is stopped by two soldiers wielding AK-47 assault weapons. “They asked me to join a crowd of people that were running up and down this embankment. Why? Because the path I had taken was considered out of bounds. No sign to this effect,” he noted.
Typical of teenagers, Patrick was quite concerned of what his peers, especially girls, would think if they saw him running up and down the hill. So he argued with soldiers. Luckily for him, a pilot falls into the same predicament. The soldiers addressed him differently because he wore a uniform; they explained that they were only following orders. The pilot takes their radio, talks to their boss, and gets everyone released. Patrick learnt several things from that experience. “Leadership matters – those men are following the orders of a superior officer. I learned something about courage – it was important not to look at those guns.”
A few years after that event, Patrick left Ghana to attend Swarthmore College in the United States. “The faculty there didn’t want us to memorise information and repeat back to them as I was used to back in Ghana. They wanted us to think critically. They wanted us to be analytical. They wanted us to be concerned about social issues.” At Swarthmore, Patrick got high marks for his understanding of basic economics in his economic classes, but the deeper lesson was that, the leaders, the managers of Ghana’s economy were making really bad decisions, some of which had fuelled the near-collapse of the country’s economy. “And so here was this lesson again – leadership matters. It matters a great deal,” he explained.
In spite of Patrick’s Epiphany at Swarthmore, it wasn’t until he started working at Microsoft Corporation that he realised it. “I was part of this team, this thinking, learning team whose job it was to design and implement new software that created value in the world…. And I realised just what had happened to me at Swarthmore … The ability to confront problem, complex problems, and to design solutions to those problems. The ability to create is the most empowering thing that can happen to an individual.”
At Microsoft, Patrick became a parent. The thought of his children’s perception of Africa in comparison to the rest of the world instigated a desire to return home and change the overwhelming narrative that portrayed the dark continent. He was determined to contribute his quota towards the continents development.
On his return 14 years ago, he found out that for every problem three things kept coming up; corruption, weak institutions, and the people who run them – the leaders. Patrick asked two very important questions: where are these leaders coming from? What is it about Ghana that produces leaders that are unethical or unable to solve problems?
In search of answers, he scanned the country’s educational system and realised that nothing had changed during his time away. “It was the same learning by rote, from primary school through graduate school. Very little emphasis on ethics … and the typical graduate from a university in Ghana has a stronger sense of entitlement than a sense of responsibility. This is wrong.” Patrick’s resolve to address this problem resulted in the conception and birth of Ashesi University, an institution launched to develop young African leaders. “Every society must be very intentional about educating its leaders … so this is what I’m doing now. I’m trying to bring the experience I had at Swarthmore to Africa. What Ashesi University is trying to do, is to train a new generation of ethical, entrepreneurial leaders. We’re trying to train leaders of exceptional integrity, who have the ability to confront the complex problems, ask the right questions, and come up with workable solutions.”
Ashesi started with 30 students in 2002 in a rented building. Today the university campus is set on a 100 acre land near Aburi, an hour’s drive from Ghana’s capital, Accra, with over 500 students. The academic curriculum is a blend of Liberal arts and Sciences. “we’re going to educate computer science students who’ve also done philosophy, and leadership, and ethics … we’re going to educate business majors who’ve studied literature and have also done computer programming because we think that broad perspectives are important,” a bullish Patrick told the audience at the TEDEx talk.
The university has an Honour Code, where the students pledge to be honest and to hold each other accountable. The students of Ashesi University take ownership of their ethical posture on campus. “This is a huge break from the norm in most African universities, where corrupt practices run free,”Patrick says. “While the Honour Code may constitute a reach for a perfect society, which is unachievable, we cannot achieve perfection, but if we reach for it, we can achieve excellence.”
If more exceptionally minded and critical thinking individuals like Patrick Awuah would rise to the occasion of transforming Africa, the continent will make great strides in ridding itself off corruption, weak institutions, and most importantly unethical and inefficient leaders.

Dick Enthoven Billionaire Founder of Nandos

As one who queued in the original Nando’s in Rosettenville for many a Sunday evening meal, I’ve been a close observer of the rise and rise of the spicy chicken empire. As you would. The management have changed from the original Nandocas led by ever ebullient Robbie Brozin, but that hasn’t stopped the brand expanding into one one now recognised from Wimbledon to Bondi Beach. Brozin spends most of his time on philanthropic causes. Replaced by the sons of his original backer, Dick Enthoven, who is reputed to have made more than R5bn on that investment. In this fascinating insight into the family behind Nando’s, Bloomberg lifts the veil ever so slightly on one of South Africa’s most successful and most reclusive entrepreneurs. – AH  
Photo credit: h0lydevil / Foter / CC BY 
Nando’s Afro-Portuguese-themed, quick-service restaurants are known for their signature peri-peri chili marinated chicken. A half bird sells for seven pounds ($10.27) in London and 57.90 rand ($4.70) in Cape Town. Photo credit: h0lydevil / Foter / CC BY
By Devon Pendleton
(Bloomberg) — It’s lunchtime in Cape Town, and a stream of customers are lining up at the Nando’s restaurant on Long Street. A cashier, Zimktha Loza, tries to take phone orders over the din of Portuguese-inspired music.
“I have regular customers every day,” Loza said. “I hear their voice and know what they are going to order.”
Long lines at Nando’s, which opened its first eatery in South Africa in the late 1980s, are a common sight at outlets far away from Cape Town. The fast-growing spicy-chicken chain has 1,100 locations in 22 countries, helping make its original backer, Dick Enthoven, a billionaire.
The son of an insurance magnate, Enthoven kick-started the business by giving two entrepreneurs, Robbie Brozin and Fernando “Nando” Duarte, a loan to expand their chain of chicken restaurants in the early 1990s. Today, he owns more than 320 Nando’s outlets in the U.K.
The business accounts for half of his $1.1 billion fortune, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The rest of his net worth derives from Hollard Insurance Company Ltd., South Africa’s largest closely held insurer. He’s never appeared on an international wealth ranking.
“At its heart Nando’s is a private family business,” said a Nando’s U.K. spokeswoman who asked not to be identified, citing company policy. “The principal backers in Nando’s, shortly after its founding, are the Enthoven family who have provided private capital and significant business know-how to grow the business in South Africa and globally.”
She declined to comment on Enthoven’s net worth.
Quick Service
Nando’s Afro-Portuguese-themed, quick-service restaurants are known for their signature peri-peri chili marinated chicken. A half bird sells for seven pounds ($10.27) in London and 57.90 rand ($4.70) in Cape Town.
“Nando’s has done really well because the whole concept is based around a very simple product which everyone understands,” said Peter Backman, managing director at Horizons, a London- based food service consultancy. “They deliver this product imaginatively, with great fun and at a very good price.”
The company’s playful marketing ploys, such as a “finger selfie” campaign where people share pictures of their digits in creative situations, play especially well with youthful customers, said Backman. On Twitter, Nando’s is the most popular restaurant in the U.K., according to a study by Southampton- based consultancy eDigitalResearch, with twice as many followers as second-ranked Domino’s Pizza Inc.
One Direction
The fervor of Nando’s loyalists has spawned a fan website,, featuring reviews and statistics, such as the most populous U.K. city without a Nando’s (Stoke-on-Trent) and the first Nando’s to see the new day (a location in Suva City, Fiji). Celebrity devotees include singer Harry Styles from the band One Direction and rapper Wiz Khalifa.
The company’s parent, Nando’s Group Holdings Ltd., had revenue of 535 million pounds ($802 million) in the year ending Feb. 23, 2014. Enthoven, whose age couldn’t be confirmed, shares ownership of Nando’s international businesses, a mix of company- owned and franchised restaurants, with Duarte and Brozin, according to Nando’s spokeswoman.
The origin of the Enthoven family fortune dates back to the 1950s, when Enthoven’s father, Robert, an insurance broker and Dutch immigrant, identified the need for corporate insurance services in South Africa. Today, Johannesburg-based Hollard Insurance sells life and short-term policies on four continents. It had a book value of 5.99 billion rand ($563.1 million) as of June 2014.
Table Service
Dick Enthoven’s Oxford-educated son Adrian serves as chairman of Hollard while another son, Robby, is head of Nando’s U.K. Robby was tapped to run Nando’s in 1993, when the company had just two branches in west London, according to a 2011 profile in The Caterer magazine. He tweaked the format, switching from the South African takeout model to a combination of counter and table service.
The company opened its first U.K. location outside of London in 2000. By 2013, there were 300 Nando’s throughout the U.K. Part of the chain’s success, said Horizons’ Backman, is location. It’s hard to find a bustling street or shopping center anywhere in the country that doesn’t have a Nando’s.
“They’ve become the anchor site for new developments,” he said. “Nando’s is the must-have brand to be in there.”
While Dick Enthoven isn’t involved in Nando’s daily management, his influence is reflected in the restaurants’ decor. An art collector, he’s wallpapered the head office of Hollard with works by African artists and hired a curator to build a collection for Nando’s.
Art Collection
Altogether, the U.K. restaurants showcase 5,000 pieces of South African art, according to the company’s website, a collection ten times bigger than the one at the Tate Britain museum.
“I never buy anything with the view of selling it or to invest in it,” Enthoven said in a 2010 interview with Johannesburg-based newspaper Business Day. “I buy it because I enjoy it, because it is important to have it.”
The billionaire also helped assemble the art collection on display at Spier, his Stellenbosch wine estate. One of South Africa’s oldest wine farms, the property also has a hotel, conference center, restaurants and biodynamic farm.
Wines from the 300-year-old vineyards appear on Nando’s U.K. menu. They include a chenin-sauvignon blanc blend and merlot, both of which are said to “partner spicy foods perfectly.”

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