Tokologo Phetla – Another “Amazing South African” Story.
by Steuart Pennington
On my website www.sagoodnews.co.za I have a section entitled ‘Amazing South Africans’ where I profile South Africans who are doing extraordinary work in one way or another – in the NGO sector, in social entrepreneurship, in innovation, in just simply making a positive contribution.
I have been writing up individual stories every single week for 5 years, there is no shortage of ‘amazing’ people out there.
I came across Tokologo’s story last week. I asked him to write it for me in his own words.
Here it is by Tokologo Phetla.
“For the most part, I was raised in a Pretoria township called Soshanguve by my mother – single and unemployed. Throughout high school I was responsible for household finances and making ends meet at home using the little money my dad sent me for maintenance. This amount varied between R1 500 – R3 000.00 per month which to cover groceries; rent, water and electricity; transport to school; clothing; hygiene and many other financial requirements for the month. Sometimes it wouldn’t be enough and I had to borrow money from friends and teachers or somehow make a plan.
I needed to budget and I needed to earn extra. This is where my entrepreneurial thinking began. I started a poetry events business in Grade 10 which failed miserably. I then started a fuel-additive distribution business the following year, 2011, which did slightly better. I managed to make a few sales to taxi drivers and owners which helped with my personal cash flow.
After being accepted to study at the University of Cape Town on an Allan Gray Scholarship, I closed down this business. At the end of my first year, feeling that I needed to do more with my spare time, I co-founded a financial education business called Student Investor which aimed to teach young people about savings and investing. This business later translated to a Media business called Moneytree Group, where I did publishing for the youth market. I made many mistakes and took huge learnings from this business, such as honour, integrity and most of all, managing cash flow!
Having armed myself with these learnings and 3 years of hands-on business experience, I sold my interests in Moneytree Group and opened my own Media and Publishing house called Commodore Media which does Publishing, Mobile TV, Mobile WiFi and Media Production. We currently hold contracts in the taxi industry to roll-out publications for commuters and taxi owners/operators, among others. My main passion is in developing informal markets. So apart from the media business, I created a mobile app which links smallholder farmers with enterprise development funds and sustainable markets in an effort to grow them.
I was elated to be announced as the Best Student Entrepreneur of the Year in South Africa and among the Top 51 in the World by the Entrepreneurs Organization, through their Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA) competition. I entered this competition to get more exposure for my business, but when I went for the Global Finals in Thailand, Bangkok, I realized there is way more value to GSEA. I made business contacts in over 30 countries from all over the world and learnt how to polish my presentation skills! It is an opportunity I would advise every young entrepreneur to take. It really broadens one’s horizon and challenges one to be better.”
How Amazing is that?