Square pegs

Dream comes true as restaurant gets off to a flying start

To the millions of visitors to the Cape Town Waterfront, the Marina Vista restaurant is a new reason to keep coming back – breath-taking views, a joyful, relaxed atmosphere and a sense of accessible luxury. And for the two entrepreneurs behind the brand-new Mediterranean seafood restaurant, Marina Vista is the culmination of a life-long dream, and the chance to continue a long family legacy. Husband-and-wife team Zeferino and Thelma Franciso'...
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Local manufacturer points the way to world-class opportunities

Anyone in doubt about South Africa’s potential for economic growth and world-class business opportunities needs to look no further than what Martin Gassner has managed to achieve with two small plastic-injection-moulding companies in Cape Town. No loadshedding, financial crisis, skills crisis nor any of South Africa’s other economic travails seem to have curtailed the constant growth of Classic Closures, Gassner’s packaging com...
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Building a business from less than nothing

Some successful entrepreneurs start multi-million rand businesses with nothing but their ingenuity and determination. Hermanus van Niekerk started his with way less than nothing - almost R1 million of debt that he had no hope of paying off. Today the owner of Alberton-based Security Experts South Africa, one of the biggest independent gate and canopy installers in Gauteng, looks back on his start-up days in 2006 at the age of 46 as “no dou...
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You’ve got to rest to keep going, says round-the-clock entrepreneur

Jaap de Bruyn finds himself in one of those relentless round-the-clock industries in which it seems impossible to take a holiday, yet he is adamant that every person in his 700-strong workforce, including himself, needs to take their annual leave – not because the law says so, but because it is a crucial part of “keeping fit” for business. But the challenge for De Bruyn, 69-year-old co-owner and managing director of Micaren Exel Pe...
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Entrepreneurial traits breed success, but it’s not always easy

One of the reasons why the life of an entrepreneur is so hard is that the character traits that make them successful can also be difficult to live with. An important part of Xolisile Nkosi's success as an entrepreneur is that her driven and contrarian impulses make her very quick to act, but they have also given her a whole archive full of quirky stories from her business career. She remembers with a tinge of regret how, as a youngster, she blew...
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Earning a degree in property entrepreneurship

Many entrepreneurs are well known for dropping out of whatever university their hopeful parents had enrolled them, but what is often underplayed in the recounting of their stories is that they take learning very seriously, and undergo intense learning courses of their own making. Take Quintin Groenewald, who at the age of 21 decided to become a property entrepreneur. He took to the library of the North-West University where he was a student and ...
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Inspiring journey to business success

Even dreaming about becoming an entrepreneur was too much of a luxury for Christian Shabalala as he grew up in the grinding poverty of the rural outskirts of Ladysmith. Every day as he walked the many dusty kilometres back home from the farm school, gathering the family's few cows along the way, his most audacious dream was of having a job as an agricultural adviser one day. Dreaming of actually having a farm was just too far out of reach. ...
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Epic fight to save business from crisis succeeds

The markings of entrepreneurial ingenuity are often portrayed as the size of the empire built, the amount of profit generated or the number of businesses started. In contrast, an often unrecognised sign of business prowess is an entrepreneur's ability to overcome a calamity that would take down any lesser business owner. Michael Kinsey, who has built his company, Kinsey Engineering, from scratch over thirty years, has just such a war story...
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Start-up risks countered with research and planning

After a lifetime's worth of intense organisational and managerial experience, you would think that starting a straight-forward lifestyle-type enterprise would be breeze. It certainly is not, says Willie Naude, 59-year-old owner of Big Sky Cottages, a brand-new mountain resort with ten self-catering chalets near Wolseley in the Western Cape. Naude has no problem planning and executing a project. As a technical director of television product...
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The rewards of giving back through mentorship

Roy Lailvaux's career is a strong argument that every successful business owner should consider becoming a mentor to beginner business owners – not necessarily some time after their retirement, but even while they run their own businesses. Lailvaux, a Johannesburg-based restaurant entrepreneur, is 56 years old and at the top of his game. He currently owns two successful restaurants and is starting up a third – a tough workload even by ...
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