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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.”

Gloria Serobe: A champion of economic freedom for women


Author: Jane Notten
Publisher: Oshun Books

This is an extract from My Success, Your Success: Top tips from South African women entrepreneurs. It is reproduced with permission.
When the lists of black South African women who have played a significant role in the empowerment and inspiration of women in this country are drawn up, Gloria Tomato Serobe is usually somewhere in the top five. Co-founder of South Africa’s first and most successful women’s investment company – WIPHOLD – Gloria might only be a little over five foot tall, but she commands a reputation that dwarfs that of many other businesswomen.
It’s a reputation that has been fuelled by a 30-year career in financial services that is as illustrious as they come. On the eve of her 50th birthday (something she intends to celebrate for all she is worth), Gloria can look back with a certain amount of satisfaction. In her working life so far she has seen action on two continents with some of the heavyweight multinationals, been the Financial Director of a top parastatal and launched and sustained a women’s investment company that is making real progress in ushering ordinary South African women into the mainstream economy. Of all her achievements this last is probably the one of which she is most proud.
Gloria is, quite simply, driven by a passion to empower her fellow women, or more precisely, to give women economic freedom in a world that she perceives is still very much dominated by men.
‘It is still difficult for women to get the same opportunities in business as men,’ says Gloria. ‘That is what often discourages women from entering business. Our role is to make the world accept that women are taking their rightful place in business. All we want is to compete on an equal footing!’
It is these sentiments that brought Gloria and three like-minded women – Wendy Luhabe, Louisa Mojela and Nomhle Canca – together in 1993, on the eve of the country’s transition into democracy, when opportunity for previously disadvantaged people was knocking.
Each an executive in her own right, the four were determined to heed the knock and open the door to opportunity. They did not want to see men waltz away with all the opportunities. They put their heads together and decided that, with their collective experience, they could launch an investment company that could take advantage of the new economic climate. Together they raised R500 000 of seed capital (in investment terms a laughably small amount) and set about the seemingly daunting prospect of launching such a company. But from the beginning they were thinking of more than just opportunity for themselves. They wanted it to be an investment company that brought wealth not only to the four founders but also to the vast numbers of South Africa’s women – black and white – who were then still excluded from the mainstream economy.
‘We all had the one dream of creating a critical mass of women in business as opposed to each one doing their own thing. We knew that if we succeeded we would be rich, but we thought it would be so much nicer if we were also surrounded by other rich women,’ says Gloria.
For this reason they decided to do an initial public offer/private placement to women only. After two years of laying the groundwork – which included touring the country to mobilise and galvanise potential women investors and building up a decent portfolio of business for them to buy into –  their dream became a reality. In 1997 the fund was launched with an Initial Public Offer to women throughout South Africa for R25 million. The response, says Gloria, was mind boggling. Eighteen thousand women took up the invitation to become part of the dream and bought shares. Some of them were individuals, others were groups of women drawn from all nine provinces in the country, urban and rural. WIPHOLD (Women Investment Portfolio Holdings Ltd) had arrived on the South African financial scene with a bang.
‘Effectively from day one we were public company,’ says Gloria. ‘WIPHOLD was the first BEE company to establish a permanent broad-based shareholding – long before the BEE rules shifted in that direction.’
This early and intuitive understanding of the need for broad-based empowerment may have something to do with the fact that each of the four founders had a very personal experience of what it means.
Gloria, for example, knows first hand what it is to rise above your circumstances. From a conventionally disempowered background – she was one of nine children born in Langa township in Cape Town – she was fortunate to be given the opportunities in life to go far. Opportunities that she grabbed with both hands.
‘I have always treated all opportunities as if they would not be there tomorrow,’ she says simply.
The first of these was the chance to learn from her parents. Both superb role models to a bright young girl, Gloria’s parents were entrepreneurs and ran shops in the community. From them she learned much about the perseverance and hard work needed to make a success of life. Then her grandfather, whom she always cites as the most important formative influence in her life, gave her something equally important and utterly priceless – self-belief.
‘Like any grandfather mine doted on his grandchildren,’ says Gloria. ‘He always celebrated our successes and downplayed our failures. He made me feel important and that I could do anything I wanted.’
Showing promise from an early age, Gloria was given the opportunity to be the first girl to study at St John’s school for Boys in the Eastern Cape (one of the few good schools for black children at the time). Of course she jumped at it. From there she went on to earn her BCom from the University of Transkei and then won a Fulbright Scholarship that took her to Rutgers University in New Jersey, where she attained an MBA. After her formal education Gloria became an accountant for Exxon and worked in the US for a few years before returning to South Africa where she worked in the accounting sphere (for Munich Reinsurance and Premier Group).  Then at age 32 she took a sudden leap from accounting into the world of investment and merchant banking taking a role with Standard Corporate & Merchant Bank (SCMB). There she learned all about corporate and project finance and mergers and acquisitions. The move was also significant because at SCMB she met one of her future business partners– Louisa Mojela.
By the time she reached WIPHOLD, Gloria was therefore already a seasoned and much-respected business woman. So much so that around the time that she participated in setting up WIPHOLD she was offered (and had to accept obviously as it was another one of those opportunities she couldn’t let pass) a job as Financial Director of Transnet. It was to be one of the most challenging, but also very rewarding, legs of her career.
While working at Transnet she continued to be involved in WIPHOLD, helping it with its rights offer to women (R76 million) in 1998 and private placements worth R 424 million in 1999 as well as assisting with listing the business on the stock exchange that same year. However, by  2001 it became clear that WIPHOLD needed more than her peripheral involvement.
After its listing, WIPHOLD ran into trouble. A natural downswing in markets from 1999 coupled with the lack of full-time involvement by its founders meant that the company was suddenly in danger of going where all the other post-apartheid women-owned investment firms had gone – down the tubes. But Gloria and her co-founders were not about to let that happen.
‘The burden of being a pioneer is that you can’t afford to fail,’ she says. ‘You find you have attracted a following and become an inspiration and a role model. You become anxious to succeed, not only for your own sake but for your followers.’
Thus, Gloria resigned from Transnet and joined WIPHOLD full-time in 2001 in a bid to get the organisation back on track. She believes that it is necessary for the founders to stay sharp and committed at the helm so that they can continue to hold the organisation to its original vision. Today, three of the four original founders still work in the business.
‘If WIPHOLD fails it won’t be because the founders are not there,’  she says.
As part of the turnaround strategy, one of the first things they did was to establish Wipcapital, as a wholly owned financial services subsidiary of WIPHOLD, which allowed them to have a more operational focus. Gloria became its CEO.
Then, in 2003, WIPHOLD bought out its minority shareholders and delisted as a R1,5-billion company, a move that Gloria says was all about taking back control.
‘We felt that with listing we could no longer control who bought shares and our ideology of being a women-owned company was being eroded,’ she says. ‘Now just over 60% of the company is again owned by women, which is the way we like it.’
After that there was no looking back. In 2005 WIPHOLD grabbed headlines when it secured stakes in the local- and London-listed insurance giant Old Mutual – as well as in subsidiaries  Nedbank and Mutual & Federal. A deal worth R7,2 billion, it was one of the biggest BEE deals in the country at the time and also the first sizeable transaction to be driven equally by women.            In the same year, WIPHOLD also concluded a significant BEE deal worth R396 million with Distell and acquired a 1,12% stake in Telkom. Most recently, WIPHOLD and Sasol Mining announced a transaction (valued at almost R1.9 billion) which has seen thousands of rural and peri-urban women participating in a BEE transaction for the first time as WIPHOLD, through a new entity called WIPCoal Investments, became the BEE partner to Sasol Mining.
Now almost 15 years old, WIPHOLD represents over 300 000 women investors and over 50% of the stock owners are black. Although it has been bigger, it employs a stable workforce of 60.
Gloria says that one of the secrets of their success has been the fact that they are an operational company and not just a portfolio holding company. ‘For the deals we do we don’t have outside advisors. We have got our own, very powerful investment banking team in house,’ she says.
She says that being able to demonstrate that they are self standing and have the technical expertise and capacity for the deal is important for their credibility, particularly as BEE deals are often subject to criticism.
‘We need to be able to demonstrate that we are not just a bunch of lucky people hanging around to collect our dividend without doing any work. Here we work for our money.
‘It’s an obsession for us. We want to be indispensable in business and the only way to do that is to be knowledgeable and to work hard at it.’
It’s an obsession that has paid off. The impressive turnaround led by Gloria and co-founder Louisa Mojela (the  CEO of WIPHOLD), that bought the company back from the brink to one of the top performing investment companies in South Africa, has earned the two of them numerous accolades. Leading South African weekly business journal the Financial Mail named Gloria among the country’s 20 most influential women in 2004 and in 2006 she and Louisa were finalists in the Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur of the Year. Gloria was also crowned the Businesswomen’s Association Businesswoman of the Year in 2006 and sits on numerous boards – including that of the JSE and the UCT Graduate School of Business.
It all sounds like a lot of hard work, but Gloria is definitely not all work and no play. In fact the ratio seems to be a little the other way around. She believes firmly that nothing can be achieved without hard work, but that it needs to be balanced out with a fair dollop of fun.
‘Our strategy sessions, for example, are about 30% intense working and 70% fun,’ she says, adding that to make sure of the fun they tend to go away somewhere special for these annual sessions. In 2008 it took place in Kenya (in time to watch the annual game migrations) and in 2007 they went to Mauritius.
She also finds time to be a mother (to two boys) and a wife (to husband Gaur Serobe) something she also believes in passionately. Despite her fervent championing of women’s rights, she describes herself as ‘not quite a feminist’ in the sense that she espouses home values.
‘I think marriage and home life play a vital role. Given the loneliness you experience in the boardroom, it is nice to know there is something at home for you,’ she says.
This of course comes at a cost. ‘There is no such thing as balancing home and career,’ she says, ‘It is not balanceable. You have to have a good support network in place.’
For Gloria, that support comes mainly from her mother-in-law, a woman who she says understands the difficulties of being a working woman herself and who is committed to the happiness of her sons. The other key to keeping both spheres of life in harmony, says Gloria, is making sure that there are no surprises for anyone.
‘You must either be in or not in. Your family must know where you are and how they can find you so they know how to support you,’ she says.
She must be doing something right because the stresses and strains don’t appear to be taking their toll. Gloria seems relaxed and ready for anything. Which is just as well because with tough economic times ahead, WIPHOLD is facing a potentially bumpy ride. But  Gloria is happy that they have done all they can to weather the storm. Firstly, their business is diversified. ‘The whole purpose of WIPHOLD now is to be strong in a few sectors and trust that they can’t all fall apart at the same time,’ she says.
Secondly, she is confident that they have the best possible team in place. Hard work and excellence have always been non-negotiables in the company and now this will count for a lot.
‘Excellence is everything here,’ says Gloria. ‘You are only going to win on the back of that. There is no substitute for super, super performance. We have a very bright team in place with enough conservatism to make sure things work.’
It is also a close-knit team, although good people come and go – WIPHOLD does not have the deep pockets necessary to keep some of their top staff from being poached by other financial services companies – there is a loyal core of people working in the business. Gloria reports that the average service for staff is 10 years.
With these fundamentals in place, Gloria is confident that WIPHOLD will continue on its march towards equity in South Africa.
‘It has always been part of WIPHOLD’s ethos to make women our business by finding ways to bring disadvantaged women into the economic mainstream,’ she said, ‘and we think that we are achieving that.’
Indeed, many of the women that bought into WIPHOLD right at the beginning remain shareholders today and have seen their investment grow exponentially over the years. Somehow, it seems likely that with Gloria and Louisa at the helm, they won’t have seen the end of that growth yet.
‘There are short cuts,’ she says. ‘We will never be billionaires because there are so many of us, but we will never be miserable either!’


1. Don’t be afraid to try.
2. Believe in yourself. Without being arrogant it is necessary to believe that you can do it no matter what.  This belief will always have to come from somewhere, in my case, I always talk about my grandfather who was so eager for our success that we grew up thinking we could do anything.
3. Treat every opportunity like it won’t be there tomorrow. Every opportunity I have had in my life I have grabbed with both hands.
4. Have fun. It’s a big part of business, you cannot carry your sadness into your workplace and hope to make it. Celebrate every little achievement – there is nothing wrong with Champaigne really! Find the opportunity to pick out the most positive and best things about your colleagues and celebrate those. It is also important because the younger people in an organisation will look to you the leader for motivation and will need to see the light heartedness in you.
5. Let people know where you stand. Your principles have to be clear at all times.  That’s the only way people get comfortable  working with you. You may lose  business as a result of taking a principled stand, but then it was probably not worth having in the first place.
6. Acknowledge the people who support and mentor you and hang onto them – especially the men. I have only been mentored by men all my life. I have never had the opportunity to be mentored by a woman in my 30-year working career. One of the enablers of my success has always been the fact that the ruling party in general and President Thabo Mbeki in particular has a strong, well-articulated policy on women empowerment. The president has gone out of his way to empower women during his presidency and I honour that.
7. Learn how to be tough! It’s not easy out there and you will be on your own.
8. Look out for and encourage other women – without scaring them you have got to make them believe that they can do it too.
9. Open yourself to criticism, as that is how you will learn.

Mark Willcox Mvelaphanda Holdings

The Mail & Guardian’s Kevin Davie mused that of all the beneficiaries of empowerment since 2000, Wilcox was probably one of the whites to have done best. He was 32nd on a list in which the value of BEE investments was measured. Wilcox has earned R493m from his wheeling and dealing. His future presumably lies with Mvelapanda Holdings, especially while founder Tokyo Sexwale disavows all operational involvement in his businesses while fulfilling the role of minister of human settlements on President Jacob Zuma’s new cabinet. Deeply evasive, but now “looking prosperous”, Wilcox’s close relationship with David Brown, Impala Platinum CEO, was a reason why Fred Roux quit the chairmanship of Impala. Brown and Wilcox had been hatching the takeover of Mvela Holdings’ mining investment, Mvelaphanda Resources, which owns 64% of Northam Platinum, by Impala. The deal failed but represented another chapter in the on-off delisting of Mvelaphanda Resources.
Wilcox is a non-executive director of Mvelaphanda Resources, the CEO of Mvelaphanda Holdings and chief investment office for the Mvelaphanda Group. The son of a butcher from Manchester, he was born in Cape Town in 1970 and graduated with a BA LLB from the University of Cape Town. There are many urban legends about Wilcox, but one is that he read about this “Sexwale fellow” on a long-haul flight and decided to offer his services after a stint in the Congo’s diamond industry.
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No one could have predicted that a white South African would amass a R100Â Â -million-plus fortune from the empowerment process, but Mark Willcox, the CE of Mvelaphanda Holdings,has done exactly that. Willcox, holds 4,4% of the JSE Securities Exchange-listed conglomerate.
No one could have predicted that a white South African would amass a R100Â -million-plus fortune from the empowerment process, but Mark Willcox, the CE of Mvelaphanda Holdings,has done exactly that.

Willcox, Mvelaphanda chairperson Tokyo Sexwale’s right-hand man since the formation of the empowerment group in 1998, holds 4,4% of the JSE Securities Exchange-listed conglomerate. Mvelaphanda Group is capitalised at R2,7-billion, giving Willcox a R118-million stake at this weeks prices.

Sexwale holds 18,5% of Mvelaphanda, valuing his holding at R480-million.

The company has shown remarkable growth since it formed with zero capital in 1998 and has strung together a succession of empowerment deals.

Sexwale, who stars in the new television series The Apprentice, which begins next week, has with a handful of other players dominated the empowerment landscape in recent years, concluding billions of rands of empowerment transactions.

Cape Town-born Willcox (35) has benefited too, netting one share for every 3,5 which has gone to Sexwale.

Sexwale (35%), Willcox (10%) and deputy executive chairperson, Mikki Xayiya (10%), jointly held 55% of Mvelaphanda before it listed on the JSE Securities Exchange last year when it merged with services group Rebserve. The three hold 27,3% of the merged company.

Mvelaphanda held 52,8% of the shares of the merged entity, enough to keep its status as a black-owned company as defined by the black economic empowerment (BEE) codes of conduct issued late last year.

Willcox’s 4,4 stake, though, would appear to be sufficient to drop its black ownership below the 50% level as he does not comply with the definition of black (African, coloured and Indian) South African as defined in BEE codes.

Mvelaphanda is aware of the threat that falling below 50% poses. The Rebserve listing document says that bringing in new historically disadvantaged South Africans (HDSA) as shareholders will mean there is a “lesser risk that the HDSA shareholding will be diluted below 50,1%”.

Department of Trade and Industry figures show that 72% of deals last year went to just six companies, one of which was Mvelaphanda.

It is usually not possible to estimate the value of empowerment deals to the individuals concerned because the companies are not public and do not disclose their financials. Deals are often linked to future targets and can be underpinned by complex financing.

Most of Mvelaphanda’s assets are now listed, though, the exception being its energy interests. There are two listed entities, Mvelaphanda Group and Mvelaphanda Resources, in which the Group has a 22,9% stake.

Where companies disclose the shareholdings of their key executives, it is not possible to calculate the net value of the holding as it may be funded by debt, but this is nonetheless the methodology widely used to assess wealth, such as by Fortune magazine.

In Willcox’s case, the R118-million position he has accumulated is possibly a sign of more to come. A corporate advisor in the BEE sector says that Willcox tells associates he has netted R300-million in empowerment deals.

Mvelaphanda sees the pace of BEE deal-making picking up. “BEE deal flow is expected to be a major driver of mergers and acquisitions in South Africa in the forseeable future. According to Ernst & Young, 2002 saw total BEE deal value of R12,4-billion and this increased by 240% in 2003 to R42,2 billion.

“New Mvelaphanda is well positioned to benefit from this anticipated increase in merger and acquisition activity,” says the Rebserve circular.

Willcox has a BA LLB from the University of Cape Town. He worked for an investment bank in the United States before returning to South Africa. He reportedly met Sexwale while structuring a deal to sell him some Kimberlite diamond mines in Kimberley in 1998.

Willcox did not respond to e-mailed questions on his role in Mvelaphanda, his unlikely status as an empowerment beneficiary and whether his personal stake affects Mvelaphanda’s standing as a black company.

In three parts

Mvelaphanda’s upstream energy interests are housed in Mvelaphanda Holdings, which is not listed. Mvelaphanda Group, which merged with JSE Securities Exchange-listed Rebserve last year, has a 22,9% stake in Mvelaphanda Resources, also JSE-listed. Mvelaphanda Group includes a range of diversified activities in property, financial and industrial services. Activities include fuel transport, technology, air transport, deliveries, actuaries and consultants, property management, property development, security systems, private equity and health care.Mvelaphanda Group also holds 20% of Batho Bonke, which has been allocated 10% of Absa.

Sinomtha Linda Lawyer

At age 23, advocate Sinomtha Linda had achieved what most of her peers could only dream of, and that was just the beginning . . .
She finished her Masters degree at 22 and just one year later Sinomtha Linda became the youngest black advocate to be admitted to the bar. In the same year she opened her own law practice, which she says was just another way to challenge herself.
Now 31, Linda says she has her mother, Dr Nolitha Vukuza, to thank for her achievements, as she always emphasised the importance of education.
Dr Vukuza, who is now based in Paris, France, and is the representative of the South African Department of Higher Education and Training at UNESCO, not only pushed her children to do well at school, but led by example, continuing to study and push the boundaries in her own career.
“It was through her that my brother and I have learnt the importance and value of education, hard work, determination, self belief and daring to push the envelope. She played an important role in the realisation of my dreams and goals, which included supporting and enabling me to further my studies after my undergrad degree,” she says.
Linda adds that her mother went even further and supported her while she completed her legal training.
“She allowed me to undertake pupillage, which is a year of vigorous legal training (without an income) for admission to the Bar Council of Advocates. Of course this was after I passed my Bar exam,” she says.
Linda adds that to this day her mother is still acquiring knowledge, and just last year graduated with her PhD.
“That kind of zest for accomplishment, both personal and professional, keeps me on my toes. She is my example of someone who has invested immensely in her self-development. I have witnessed her journey of self-discovery, self-mastery and ultimately self-actualisation,” she says in praise of her mother.
Born in the township of Mdantsane in the Eastern Cape, Linda grew up in Mthatha and initially had no intention of becoming a law practitioner. It may surprise many to learn that she actually wanted to be a kwaito dancer!
She laughs when she recalls how she would have done anything to become a dancer at that time. But her mother would not have it; no daughter of hers was going to be a dancer! While her mother was a staunch believer in the importance of education, it was also her late school principal, Principal Drake, who nurtured her love of learning.
Outspoken from a young age, Linda says it became apparent in primary school that she was destined to become a lawyer.
She says the dream to become a lawyer was cemented by her adoration for her uncle, Chris Bodlani, who was a lawyer. The respect he earned in the family because of his career motivated Linda even more.
All these pictures that I had envisioned for myself were a culmination of a yearning to one day appear in the law reports – so that I too, could have the honour of my peers referring to a case I argued to advance their case on that particular issue
You would think that being accepted to the Bar Council at the age of 23, and becoming the youngest black woman to achieve this would have satisfied Linda. But this would never be enough for this over achiever.
Already discovering the challenges of being part of the Bar Council, Linda says starting her own practice was difficult, but something she was more than happy to take on.
“Besides seeking to challenge myself, it was my vision. I wanted to be involved with the substance of the law, the less administrative side of it. The concept of litigation and imagining myself addressing a judge in court had always appealed to me, including the idea of being robed (wearing an Advocates’ court uniform).
“But ultimately, all these pictures I had envisioned for myself were a culmination of a yearning to one day appear in the law reports – so that I too, could have the honour of my peers referring to a case I argued to advance their case on that particular issue,”  says The Group 21 Advocate attorney.
But getting her practice off the ground proved more difficult than she anticipated. Because she was new to the legal fraternity she had no leverage over her peers, as she did not have the necessary business contacts that are required to get started. But this did not discourage her. Linda had to adapt to the fast-paced and mature work environment she found herself in.
“I say mature work environment because not only was the average age of my colleagues, at least twice my own age (and more), but this was also the case in respect of the clients I represented, which I found to be a tad daunting initially,” she says.
While she admits encountering some challenges in her career, Linda is quick to add that the highlights completely outweigh the difficulties she has faced. In the coming years she hopes to build her practice and also grow in her career as an advocate.
“It was always my plan to pursue a Doctorate of Laws (LLD) and I anticipate that I will be taking it on in the next three years or so. But before then and in the near future, I aim to take a course within the commerce and management fields,” she concludes.

George Wachiuri Optiven Limited Investments Real Estate Mogul

  • George Wachiuri is the CEO of Optiven Limited Investments.
  • He set up 15 ventures which failed before finding success in Optiven.
  • The company won the Top 100 mid-sized companies 2014/15 edition.
  • Optiven was also the best real estate company in the mid-sized category.
  • The firm started as a general supplies entity before diversifying into the real estate sector in 2008. It employs over 50 people.
  • He once lost Sh5m in a deal gone sour and sold his property to refund the money.

The many challenges that stood in the way of George Wachiuri’s earlier start-ups did not dampen his hopes of becoming a successful businessman.
Today Mr Wachiuri, the CEO of Optiven Limited Investments, can look back at the hurdles which dogged him for more than 15 years with a smile. This is because the real estate developer has earned prestigious accolades over time.
They include the company’s surprise ranking as the overall winner in the Top 100 mid-sized companies 2014/15 edition. Optiven was also the best real estate company in the mid-sized category.
Mr Wachiuri’s journey to the top was strewn with hurdles. He described the path through his previous 15 enterprises as depressing, stressing but also rewarding. He recalls a time when he sold his property to refund a client’s money after making a Sh5 million loss in a deal gone sour.
“After the loss I swore that I would never do business again, but I remembered that winners never quit and quitters never win,” he said.
Mr Wachiuri founded Optiven as a general supplies entity which diversified operations into the real estate sector in 2008.
“My previous businesses failed but they acted as a lesson to do better, my appetite for taking risks grew as a result of many failed ventures that I started.”
Among his failed enterprises were joint ventures, partnerships and sole proprietorships.
“I learnt from the initiatives that no one should ever give up. I learnt to focus on my vision, trust in God, be self-disciplined, network relentlessly, be passionate about my undertakings, work smart and hire people who are smarter than me,” he said.
Having wizened up through lessons in failure, Mr Wachiuri set up Optiven using a paltry Sh80,000 as seed capital and an additional Sh300,000 borrowed from a bank.
“Despite the dramatic start which forced us to rely on debt financing, the company has grown and employs more than 50 today. Our projects have gradually raised the company’s asset value to more than Sh1 billion,” Mr Wachiuri said.
He attributed the firm’s growth to a culture of honesty, professionalism, creativity and innovation.
Wealthy customers
“At Optiven we do not promise what we cannot deliver. The secret of our growth is keeping our word and integrity. We aspire to keep our focus on making our customers wealthy,” he said. 
The MBA graduate of the University of Nairobi said they have set a 200 per cent growth target for 2015/16, adding that the business environment has improved with many Kenyans joining the middle class.
“We have seen more lenders willing to offer us credit facilities. We also have seen our main lender reduce interest on loans and our customers have increased, too” he said.
Winning the Top 100 competition has also placed the company on a pedestal, making it a pace-setter in the real estate industry, he said. He has set up a YouTube site, Optiven Kenya, to advise people on investment.
The company interacts with clients through investment forums, radio programmes, videos on mentoring and investments and one-on-one talks. Mr Wachiuri plans to decentralise the firm the counties.
“We are targeting 20 counties before the end of 2016. This is part of our five-year strategic plan.” The main challenge in the business, he said, is getting “clean property”.
“One can spend six to eight months before getting clean property. I lost over Sh5 million on a bad deal which was all my 10-year savings in employment. That loss drives my passion. No single Kenyan will ever loss money if they deal with us,” he said.
He advises property developers to build more homes to meet the country’s rising demand for them.
“We need more affordable homes as real estate companies are currently providing only 42,000 per year.”
Optiven sells value-added plots with emphasis on conserving the environment, which includes planting trees. The firm also emphasises on providing security, piped clean water and infrastructure among other facilities.
“There are places where the focus has been on making life easy for dwellers by providing commercial centres, provision of children’s playing fields, setting up green zones and resting parks,” he said. Clients can pay for property in instalments of up to three years.
Mr Wachiuri, who described himself as an early riser, often takes a break from his busy schedule to go swimming with his children. He also creates time to read and write books. His works include Soaring Like an Eagle, a book whose proceeds go to charity, and Unleash Your Full Potential.
“I also take my wife for coffee once a week. We travel a lot to the village to see our dairy farm and I run mentoring forums,” he said.
Optiven runs a foundation which pays fees for needy children, plants trees to conserve the environment, runs medical camps and builds houses for elderly people as part of its social responsibility contract.

South African Sue Anderson CP+B Adversiting Guru

SA expat named as one of the most successful women in advertising
Recently named one of the 36 most creative women in advertising by Business Insider, Sue Anderson proves that South African creatives offer some of the best ideas.
Now the executive creative director at CP+B in Los Angeles, Anderson started her career as a copywriter in Jo’burg. Along with a fellow Saffa in the States, Mariota Essery, she was recently included in Business Insider‘s list. We caught up with her to chat about the ad industry, her advice on living abroad and her favourite city.
Was your move away from SA personal or professional?
Professional. I was offered a job in Amsterdam and it seemed like a great adventure.
What are the starkest differences between the SA and US ad industries?
Advertising is amazingly similar the world over. The market needs differ, the culture references differ, but everyone still engages with a good idea that speaks to them.
What were the best and worst aspects of working in Amsterdam?
I was lucky enough to work at Wieden+Kennedy with a bunch of crazy talented people. It was an amazingly stimulating environment to be in, and those people will be friends of mine forever. Nothing bad to say really. It’s a cliche but grey weather does get dull.
SA’s creatives box way above their weight in terms of awards and creative work, often completely outranking much larger or sophisticated countries. South African Adtalent is highly regarded and is snapped up in New York, London, Singapore etc. Why is that, do you think?
I think SA creatives still value great ideas over everything. I think not always having huge budgets, or fancy production to rely on the idea has to be king. At Hunt Lascaris that’s all the ever mattered — and it’s still the thing I stop and ask myself all the time: Is this the best idea to solve this problem?
Do you have any advice for SA creatives looking to make a move abroad?
Think about where you want to live and experience new things. It’s important that when you come home from work (where you spend a lot of time) you like where you are. Moving is hard, so you must like where you are. And when you are there — be open minded. Seeing how other people work is great learning experience.
What do you miss most about SA, personally and professionally?
Personally I miss my family and friends hugely. Followed by Woolies and biltong. Is that weird? Professionally I miss the “Let’s get it done” attitude South Africans have. We are a tenacious bunch, and it’s great.
Sue Anderson
What’s the best thing about living in LA?
The LA/California lifestyle is amazing. The sun shines all the time. I love that people are making films in this town all the time. I find that very inspiring.
Do you prefer Joburg or Cape Town?
Joburg is where most of my favorite people are so I always go there, but the more I travel the more beautiful I think Cape Town is. I don’t want to have to choose!
LA or New York?
New York is the best city is the world. Hands down

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