Mandla Sibeko:business opportunist

2011-06-10 15:54

Just last year, Mandla Sibeko (31) was named one of the World Economic Forum’s young global leaders and scooped the Black Business Quarterly’s new entrepreneur of the year award.

Sibeko is one inspired individual who means business when it comes to what he does.

Besides being the chairperson of his own venture-capital firm, he’s also a shareholder and the chairperson of Netflorist.

He was also one of the first people to open a supermarket in a township – in 2008 he opened a Pick n Pay in Kliptown, Soweto.

He is also a shareholder of Icon South Africa in a joint venture with World Wide Sport, which was responsible for the look and feel of 2010 World Cup signage and branding. Sibeko is also a director of Paarl Media Group.

He set his heart on becoming an entrepreneur from an early age.

At 16, while being interviewed on the Felicia Mabuza-Suttle Show as the first black chairperson of the Johannesburg Junior City Council, when asked what he’d like to be some day, he answered: “I would like to be a businessman.” Simple as that.

When he turned 24, Sibeko ventured into his first business, setting up Born Free Media, which co-produced When We Were Black, a TV series set in 1976.

He was also involved in producing 90 Plein Street, a show about Parliament and also produced Noah’s Ark, currently airing on SABC.

He says: “From the beginning, I have based my business premise on investing in my passions.

Every other business that I have been a part of has been based on this premise.”

Uncomfortable resting on his laurels, Sibeko is setting up a new business focusing on technology that creates safe environments for mines.

With giants like Albertina Sisulu, Helen Joseph, Robert Sobukwe, Steve Biko and Solomon Mahlangu as his inspiration for working harder, Sibeko’s a firm believer that “in South Africa you can be anything you want to be”.

He says: “We are truly blessed. When you start to realise that Soweto alone can compete with major African cities in Africa, the opportunities are boundless.

“We dared to dream and the dream of a new South Africa was delivered. It is now left to us to decide what kind of a future we want for this country.”

Sibeko’s worry is the unemployment rate.

“We need to create a thriving culture of entrepreneurship and really inspire our youth to believe that it is possible to start something.”

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