What do you consider to be entrepreneurial success?
To do things differently, not necessarily in terms of the product that you supply, but in how it is delivered, the levels of excellence achieved and the quality of the product. I believe it can be achieved by leading by example, by working hard and by always being on the lookout for the next opportunity, even if it might mean taking the road less travelled. One needs flexibility and the ability to adapt to new technology, to new challenges, new markets and to new demands of clients. I believe entrepreneurs are the drummers of any society and determine the rhythm of a country’s economy.
What’s the biggest thing you struggle with as an entrepreneur?
It’s definitely to have enough patience. Although I’m quite prepared to wait for results, I cannot always understand why others are not on the same page as I am. Being able to employ the right people is becoming an increasingly difficult task. Fabrinox offers entry level employment, takes apprentices fresh from school, and also provides in-service training to university and college students in an effort to train artisans, technical staff and engineers. To be employable in this industry, people need to have had mathematics as a school subject. However, I feel our school system is failing many youngsters, because they receive poor education and are often advised not to take mathematics as a subject.
Do you have any advice for Africa’s aspiring entrepreneurs?
Africa needs industries that are willing to add real value and create new jobs. For its economy to really grow, we need to convert human energy into economic value. I respect people who have earned their money through hard work and sweat, as opposed to those who follow the “easy money” option. I have a special affinity for leaders from Africa, as they have proven that it is possible to make a success in this complex world.
Where do you see Fabrinox in 10 years? Any expansion plans?
Fabrinox is experiencing a growth phase, and recently expanded to a second site in Paarl, [South Africa]. In 2012 we were able to create 33 new jobs. Strategic acquisitions are definitely on the table. We will continue our strategy to partner with other companies already working in Africa and internationally, in an effort to increase our global footprint. Continuous investment in new technology is paramount, as it is so important to be able to service our clients even better.