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Scan to find out more about Takealot Marketplace.

“As a small brand, I could reach customers in Cape Town as well as deliver in the Eastern Cape.”
Apiwe Nxusani-Mawela Founder, Tolokazi Beer

06 Ed’s Letter – The Secret To Success

Editor-in-Chief Mike Abel on making smart choices for a happy, fulfilled life.

08 Brain Food

The books, podcasts and apps that will help you get ahead, expand your mind and, when necessary, calm your brain too.

10 The Art Of Collecting Art

No idea where to begin with starting your own art collection? Kholisa Thomas of Aspire Art has all the answers.

18 From The Ashes

For striking art that reflects one man’s community, keep an eye on the work of mixed medium artist Banele Njadayi

P18 02
INTUITION Go Fetch Your Future



P20 03
More and more business executives, creatives and entrepreneurs are leaving cities to work remotely in small towns. Opportunities abound! What are you waiting for?
Zoom Towns
A conversation about financial freedom with Standard Bank Head of Youth Tshiamo Molanda and M&C Saatchi Abel Co-founder Jacques Burger. P28
Money Moves For

32 A Maverick Approach To Money

From investing like a deceased janitor to keeping an inner scorecard and understanding what happiness truly means, financial expert Steven Nathan lays out the most important lessons he’s learnt.

42 The Future Of Energy

Got big business plans, but no idea if the government can keep the lights on? As Nick Hedley explains, there is light at the end of the tunnel if South Africa makes the right decisions. And for entrepreneurs, there’s money to be made.

52 Connecting The Dots

Tired of all the negativity associated with the Nelson Mandela Bay region? We are too, so to unlock the immense potential of its existing assets, we take a look at a few game-changing interventions the Friendly City can make to turn its fortunes around.

04 Contents
P76 P64


Creativity Commandments

One of South Africa’s sharpest creative minds, Neo Mashigo, has been at the cutting edge of advertising and brand building for more than two decades. Here is his creative cheat sheet for individuals, agencies and brands who want to stand out.

76 The Business Of Fashion

From getting mentors to staying flexible, borrowing experience and digital unplugging, Buntu Ngcuka gets some of Mzansi’s most successful entrepreneurs to spill the tea on turning fashion from a passion into a livelihood.

86 Beyond Chicken

We go behind the scenes with Goodbye Malaria to understand how the entrepreneurial savvy behind Nando’s is helping solve one of the world’s greatest public health problems.


Go Fetch Your Future

INTUITION is an M&C Saatchi Abel Force-for-Good Initiative.

We’d like to thank the following brands that have helped make this magazine possible: Takealot, Mr D, Astron Energy, Lexus, Lancewood and PepsiCo.

Editor-in-Chief Mike Abel

Managing Editor Tudor Caradoc-Davies

Art Director Clint Jurgens

Associate Editors Maciek de Waal-Dubla, Nadia Siegel

Chief Copy Editor Ingrid Sinclair

Copy Editor Gillian Caradoc-Davies

Cover Illustrator Fran Labuschagne

Contributors Buntu Ngcuka, Jazz Kuschke, Nick Hedley, Jacques Burger, Kholisa Thomas, Brett Bellairs, Banele Njadayi, Steven Nathan, Sherwin Charles, Bill Stephens, Neo Mashigo, Neo Serati Mofammere, Daniel Sher, Palesa Mokubung

We asked our cover illustrator, Fran Labuschagne (, for her best career advice.

“Hard work beats talent if talent doesn’t work hard.”

I have realised that putting in the hours can go a really long way.



you can choose and give yourself. But you have to choose it.

In pursuing a happy heart, I’ve made a few big choices that have changed my life. Perhaps the most relevant was in first year varsity, when I told my parents I wasn’t enjoying architecture and wanted to change course.

When I told them at the end of first year that I didn’t like my second choice either, (a BA to study towards becoming a psychologist), they didn’t stop me. That was when I decided to study marketing and, once I’d qualified, to do a postgrad in advertising. Had my parents forced me to stay the distance, I might have been an unhappy architect… or even a happy one. But because they had the wisdom to put my happiness ahead of their egos and expectations and backed me, I found something I truly love.

That has been my experience through most of my decisions that have worked out well. To put love and passion ahead of logic. Because those are the X factors that ignite the mind and soul. Logic can’t do that. The philosopher Blaise Pascal said, “The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of.” He was spot on.

Welcome to INTUITION.

When we set out to put together this magazine, our goal was to chat to some of the brightest minds in South Africa from a range of different industries about what they have learned in the process of building successful careers. We were looking for business and entrepreneurial advice and insights, pearls of hard-earned entrepreneurial wisdom.

However, we knew that the process would uncover a lot more than that. In framing and defining their success, the people we spoke to had a lot to say about things we do not normally associate with business: relationships, open communication, definitions of happiness and of love.

Love… relationships… happiness… These are not usual fare for a magazine on entrepreneurship, are they? But the reality is that, despite our best efforts to segregate what we do (work) with who we are (life), for many of us these things are inseparable. Success is not limited to our usual pre-conceptions around business, careers, and bank balances. That’s why so much of the advice and intuition in this magazine transcends the customary segmentation of our work and personal lives.

In my experience, success equals happiness in the heart. It’s not anything that anyone can give you. It’s only something

The advice and insights you’ll read in the pages of INTUITION speak to this sentiment. The contributions come from sectors as diverse as fashion, finance, the creative world, and non-profit sectors. Yet, as different as the personalities, brands and companies in INTUITION are, there are incredible connecting threads among the themes they touch on and the lessons they share.

Love and passion for his craft are evident in the journey that artist Banele Njadayi took to build his career. The pursuit of defining your own true (not just monetary) happiness is there too in the brilliant advice financial heavyweight Steven Nathan has about making smart financial choices in your youth that will pay off in the decades to come.

Freedom is another big theme. There’s the freedom you get from choosing where to live and work with the exodus from big cities and the rise of Zoom Towns. It’s the freedom Standard Bank’s Tshiamo Molanda refers to that comes from controlling debt and focusing on saving. There’s also the freedom creative pioneer Neo Mashigo speaks of, when you work with people (or brands) who trust and back you. I have experienced this first-hand in my career working with wonderful partners and clients.

As I found when searching for my “thing”, going with your instincts or trusting your gut is another big theme. For art expert

06 Ed’s Letter
“Success is the ability to live your life, the way you want to live it, doing what you enjoy most, surrounded by people you admire and respect.”



Kholisa Thomas, trusting your instinct is a vital part of building your own art collection. Whether it’s that inner feeling when something is not quite right with a piece of work or that feeling of flow when you know you’re onto something special – instincts are essential.

Another common thread running through this magazine is the determination of the individuals and businesses to challenge the status quo. That mindset shows up in how the Goodbye Malaria team backed themselves to apply entrepreneurial skills to the mammoth task of eradicating malaria in Southern Africa. In a similar way, Brett Bellairs was willing to take risks and run his maverick gallery business differently in order to uplift artists. As an editorial team, we feel it too in the massive unfulfilled potential of the Nelson

Mandela Bay Metro. That’s why we went big with the blue-sky thinking in drawing up an outline of how this important region could transform, if we simply connect the dots.

Perhaps the strongest connecting thread in INTUITION is how, despite our country’s problems, each and every personality and business we spoke to saw the positivity and potential for South Africa to prosper and excel. That attitude is there in the thousands of small to medium-sized businesses starting up across the country. It’s there in the resilience of three of South Africa’s top young fashion designers, Palesa Mokubung, Neo Serati Mofammere and Daniel Sher. It courses through Nick Hedley’s must-read overview of the future of power generation in South Africa and it’s at the core of Goodbye Malaria CEO Sherwin Charles’s attitude that it really is possible to change people’s lives - and consequently an entire regionby putting good intentions to work.

Life is short and can be profoundly beautiful, if we choose wisely. The trick is to live one’s life based on choices that feed your heart and soul; that take others on the journey with you; that seek joy both in the moment and in the “ordinary, everyday”.

Life is an open game where anything can happen and where we can change the rules at any time during play.

You have one life. Choose happiness. Choose fulfilment and choose reward.

Your future awaits.

Go fetch it.



Looking for inspiration to fire up your brain? Perhaps you need a way to switch your thoughts off instead of on? We spoke to creatives, account managers and designers about the best things to read, listen to and check out right now.


The Business Of Fashion


With in-depth interviews that detail how fashion has shaped culture in immeasurable ways – this podcast is seen as an essential daily resource for fashion creatives, executives and entrepreneurs.


99% Invisible

We tend to forget it at times, but design is everywhere in our lives. 99% Invisible is a podcast about design, architecture & the 99% invisible activity that shapes our world.


Creativity Inc. – Ed Catmull

If anyone understands how to bring creativity into business and leadership, Ed Catmull the co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios does. In Creativity Inc. he shares philosophies that protect the creative process and defy convention.



On this podcast Steven Bartlett chats to some of the world’s most influential people, experts and thinkers to discover untold truths, unlearned lessons and important insights.

PODCAST Masters of Scale

Incredible interviews from some of the biggest business titans, stars and personalities – sharing how they grew from start-ups into global brands.

BOOK Atomic Habits

James Clear

If you’re interested in forming good habits, breaking bad ones, and controlling the incremental behavioural changes that bring remarkable results, this is a must-read.

08 Brain Food



Designing The Mind – Ryan A. Bush

Tired of negative emotions? What if you could reprogram your behavioural patterns? This book makes the case that you can re-design your mind.


Daily Stoic

With 366 meditations on wisdom, perseverance, and the art of living from Stoic philosophy, you’ll find the resilience, serenity and self-knowledge to live a good life.

A Cuppa Happy With Joss Stone

Trying to understand what happiness is and how to find it, Joss Stone speaks to a broad line-up of guests in her quest to find answers.


Stolen Focus – Johann Hari

Feel like it’s getting harder and harder to pay attention? You’re not imagining it. Stolen Focus goes deep to examine why this is happening – and how to get our attention back.


Waking Up, Headspace & Calm

From pandemics to the pace and load of our professional and personal lives, it can be extremely difficult to relax and let go. All of these meditation apps come highly recommended with a spread of meditation options that accommodate your level of experience.



The School Of Greatness

The School of Greatness sees

Lewis Howes conduct inspiring interviews with world-renowned leaders in business, entertainment, sports, science, health, and literature.

PODCAST How I Built This

By chatting to innovators, entrepreneurs and idealists about the movements they built, host Guy Raz uncovers the stories behind some of the world’s bestknown companies.


The First Minute – Chris Fenning

Whether it’s conversations, emails, meetings or interviews, this book gives you practical skills for improving your business communication skills.


The High Performance Podcast

Hosted by a sports broadcaster and a leading organisational psychologist, this podcast looks closely at the lives of high-achieving, worldclass performers.

BOOK Surrounded By Idiots – Thomas Erikson

Some people seem impossible to work with. This book delves into different personality types and gives you insights into how to communicate and work with them.



10 How To Start An Art Collection

Compared to other things people spend money on - cars, clothes, TVs, bling, holidayswhat’s the case for spending money on art? Before you spend money on anything, it begins with an appreciation of that object or experience, whether that is a car, TV or holiday. Art is an intrinsic part of who we are, it’s an expression of our creativity and of what makes us uniquely human. This is why art has been loved, appreciated, archived, valued and treasured since the beginning of time. With that context in mind, there is no right or wrong when it comes to taste and what someone loves, or their reason for wanting to buy art.

However, there are some basic assumptions about spending money on art which are no different to spending money on a car or a house. People want to buy good quality art, and they prefer to pay a fair price for it. If you want these two things, then you have to master the art of buying art. The art business has become increasingly complex over the years; the range of art available, its accessibility, and the differences in prices depending on where you buy, have exploded. Figuring out what to buy at a price that you are comfortable with is not as straightforward as it used to be, which is why getting the right advice is central to mastering the art-buying process.

When starting out, should you buy art based purely on whether you like/love it or whether you think it will grow in value as an investment? A lot can happen from the moment you decide you like a piece of art to the moment you leave with your art in tow. There are two approaches: you can buy at random and hope for the best, or you can proceed logically, step by step, and try to get the best possible balance between what you love and a great investment.

How structured would you recommend new art collectors be when buying art? Is it worth setting a budget, or does that take the fun out of it?

I recommend being very structured in your approach. The first step is developing an eye for the art you like, in other words defining your taste. This involves going to gallery exhibitions, attending art fairs, visiting art museums, and attending panel discussions or walkabouts with artists and/or curators. This is the foundation of mastering the art-buying process.

Your next step is to narrow down what you like and to look at specific artworks that you like. This needs some knowledge of how the art business works, so familiarise yourself with gallerists, art dealers or an art advisor. Our role is to walk you through the

Want to get your own art collection off the ground, but have no idea where to start?
Art advisor Kholisa Thomas of Aspire Art ( answers all our questions.

art-buying process and help you select the best works of art that you love, that are within your budget, and best suited to you. As your experience and relationships with people in the art world mature, you will make better selections and increasingly buy works that have investment value as your purchasing power grows or as your ability to select quality works of art increases.

Like new art collectors, artists have to start somewhere. What’s your advice for uncovering the next big thing? Where should aspirant art collectors look for art?

Reputable and well-established galleries, art fairs, and auction houses like Aspire Art are where collectors should be looking for art. We are focused on high quality historic, modern, and contemporary African art and have made significant inroads in the recognition of the creative and cultural contribution that Africa has made to the global artworld. When you buy art from us you can be assured that it’s art of high quality and significant cultural or historical value.

How much weight should new collectors give to an artist’s body of work? Is it OK to like one piece in isolation?

It’s always wonderful to see works of art

within an artist’s larger body of work – it places that work in context and gives depth to the artist’s practice and their meaning – but if you love just one work in isolation that’s absolutely fine too!

Should new art buyers trust their own instincts or is it important to listen to art critics? How important is hype?

It’s important to listen to people with knowledge and deep expertise in the area of art you are interested in. It’s a balance; once you have done your research, read the art critics’ reviews, spoken to gallerists, spoken to art advisors, and consulted your more mature art collector friends, then I truly believe the best collectors are the ones that trust their gut and follow their instinct. But, like anything, this “instinct” develops and matures with time and real-world experience.

Is it A) better to save for a few years to afford one bigger/more expensive piece, or B) get more affordable art in your price bracket and upgrade your collection when your bank balance allows?

Definitely B. It’s not just about buying art – the true pleasure and joy come from that moment it’s delivered and installed on your wall and living in your home.

That first weekend you have friends over and they admire your art, and you proudly share the story about the artist, why you love it, and the meaning of the work, is what it’s all about. The true joy comes from living with art and letting it do its magic on you. I use the word magic deliberately – there is something truly special about the relationship between a piece of art and its admirer. It’s an energetic exchange; a good work of art should connect with you both intellectually and emotionally.

Is it worth thinking of an art collection as an overall idea – in other words, a series of inter-connected pieces of art with some sort of link or connecting thread? Or is that over-thinking it? Is the link simply the collector?

You will find that over time a collection responds to both points. It becomes a series of inter-connected pieces with a thread. It’s always a very good idea to think about this defining thread from the onset of starting your collection, so it becomes cohesive and tells a story. At the same time the collection is the collector; they are always central to the art because ultimately, they choose it, and their choices are driven by their unique location and identity in the world.




From hot contemporary artists to important modernists who hold historical significance, here’s Kholisa’s top 10.

WISE UP How To Start An Art Collection 12
Mohau Modisakeng ‘Untitled (lefa bust)’ Cinga Samson ‘Men are different’


In printmaking, the term “edition” refers to the total number of prints struck from one plate. There are typically two types of print editions: limited and open. Limited edition means that a fixed number of prints or impressions are produced, thus making the print more scarce, valuable, and collectable. Limited edition prints are marked with both their edition size and number (meaning at what point in the edition run it was struck). A marking of 1/20 for example, delineates that that specific print was the first of 20 works in an edition.

In contrast, open editions have no limit on the number of prints produced and consequently, are generally not as valuable as limited edition prints.

The value of a print is shaped by factors like quality, the artist’s notoriety, and rarity. The collectability of a print will increase if the image is desirable, the artist is acclaimed, and the edition length is limited. If a print run is small, then a print’s value is enhanced by its relative rarity.


The growth of digital channels and the rapid rise of e-commerce platforms have caused art-buying behaviours to change dramatically, with many clients making some or all their purchases online, especially of artworks at lower price points. However, in the auction business,

high price tag works are also bought online without the buyer ever seeing the work of art in person. Of course, it’s now a combination of both, buying online and, when possible, seeing the work in the flesh. Nothing can ever take away from seeing a work of art in person.

What’s the difference between a print, a limited edition, and an original artwork in terms of value?
How do you feel about buying art online? Is it the same as buying anything else online, or is it better to see an artwork in the flesh?
Zanele Muholi ‘Thulani I, Paris’ Kate Gottgens ‘Vulturous Boredom’ Nicholas Hlobo ‘Unduluko’ George Pemba ‘Xhosa Woman’

This trend has resulted in the art business shifting to the online landscape, with various websites enabling customers to browse various quality artworks from around the world, from the comfort of their own homes.

At Aspire Art we hold two online auctions every year and they are an excellent way to start an art collection, as the works are at a more accessible price point and there is a wide range of art to choose from.

Purchasing paintings, sculptures and photography online can be a seamless and rewarding process, but it is important to identify the factors that ensure it is a positive experience – such as confirming the legitimacy of the website or platform, the authenticity of the work, and much more. That’s why it’s so important to buy online from established and reputational galleries and/or auction houses.

Once you’ve bought something you like, how important is the framing (if it’s a painting) and the placement? Are there any basic dos and don’ts to keep in mind?

It’s always important to consult an expert framer, but firstly: frame for the long haul. You want to preserve your artwork over time, so matting materials should be acid-free, and there should be a dust cover

on its back. Traditionally there’s a glass layer over the front, but some companies offer acrylic instead. Acrylic has the advantage of being shatterproof and lightweight; on the other hand, it can get scratched much more easily than glass. Whatever the material, the key is that it’s been treated to protect against UV rays.

Oil paint on canvas is generally hardier and more stable in the face of the elements—hanging these paintings in indirect sunlight is fine without any UV protection, and you can lightly dust them without worrying about doing damage. You want to see the textured

sweeps and buildups of the paint. While you’d skip the glass and the mat for these, you might still want to surround the work with a frame.

Like paying off a lounge suite, is paying art off in installments a thing? Would you recommend it as an option?

If it’s an available option from a reputable gallery then yes, of course.

What was the first piece of art you remember buying? Do you still have it? Do you still love it?

A small oil painting by John Koenakeefe Mohl. Yes, I still have it and my love for it grows every day.

Peter Clarke ‘Coming and Going’ Gerard Sekoto ‘Song of the Pick’ Ernest Mancoba ‘Untitled composition’ Dumile Feni ‘Untitled (Man & Guitar)’


In the relatively sedate world of art galleries, one relatively small (in square meterage) Cape Town gallery is punching well above its weight, attracting both talent and collectors and making everyone (artists included) money.

Owner Brett Bellairs gave us a by-the-numbers breakdown of what sets 131A Gallery ( in Woodstock apart.

“Being an artist as a career choice is not as glamorous as it looks. More often than not, the galleries hold most of the power and artists can be completely at their mercy and taken advantage of. Having heard horror stories from artist friends, we wanted to do things differently with 131A. We believe (like any successful business), that business is built on trust and by maintaining a good relationship with our suppliers (artists) and customers (collectors). Here’s how we do it.”

33,3% .

“Although the costs involved with running a gallery are high, we always felt that the normal 50% commission structure galleries have with artists is inequitable. How can an artist live, as well as produce new work, while giving up to half of the artwork price to the gallery? I’ve even heard of galleries deducting the cost of catalogues and drinks at openings off the artist’s share of the sale price. 131A takes one third as commission, which enables the artists to hopefully have less stress in both their practice and daily lives. We want them to be able to focus stress-free on what they are good at – making art.”

0 days .

“Nobody likes waiting for money that is due to them, so we pay our artists as soon as the buyer’s money is in our account and the artist has sent us an invoice. Why should they have to wait weeks or months when the client has paid us? We also let our artists know as soon as a sale is confirmed. This might not sound like a biggie, however I know of an artist who sold four or five paintings but was only alerted to the sales months later from a friend who worked part time at the gallery. Everyone appreciates cash flow.”

1 000+ .

Since day one, we have captured every single local and foreign collector’s details and maintained the connection via our newsletters. This database of over 1 000 art collectors (people who have actually bought art from us) has resulted in many repeat buyers for our artists.

3 months .

“We work with a tight group of around 10 artists who solely work with us and around 10 other artists who work with multiple galleries including us. This gives us the chance to showcase our artists’ work in both group and solo shows at 131A more often than the industry norm. Some artists wait years between solo shows at their gallery. I couldn’t imagine juggling 40 artists’ needs in a year, because someone is always going to end up disappointed. If an artist comes to me and says, “I have four new paintings,” we either get them into a group exhibition or up on our multiple online platforms ASAP. Some of our artists will have work in a group exhibition every three months.”

Ts&Cs apply.

We questioned the conventions of connectivity in the new Lexus RX. Featuring a remote touch centre console, voice-activated navigation system and a 12.3-inch multimedia touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Driving has never been more intuitive.



There have always been famous artists who sketched, painted, spray-painted or doodled on walls, from the 20 000-year-old Lascaux cave paintings to Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, Picasso, and Banksy. For some it was a commission, others a political statement or merely a whim, but for brilliant Eastern Cape artist Banele Njadayi, born and raised in Makhanda, it was simply about what he had at hand.

He says, “When I was a young boy, I would move from one family member to another. In those days we used old wooden stoves. I would pick the leftover charcoal out of the ashes and do some drawings on cardboard or a vacant wall. If we were playing on the street, I would draw on stones or on the road. At school, I would get into a lot of trouble for drawing on the walls. I never understood why because I was not breaking anything, just drawing something that can be washed off.”

Banele’s path to becoming a professional artist took time and was not short of significant challenges – from being accused of playing with tokoloshes as a kid because he carved his own toy sculptures out of wood, to having to carry all his work from where he lived in Walmer to Central, Gqeberha

(a 40-minute walk even when you are not carting 1m X 1.5m artworks on your back) in order to make it to his first exhibition – but he stuck with it. From that first exhibition, he sold a few paintings and cracked the nod to exhibit at the artEC New Signatures Competition in 2011. There he won an award, exhibited three works, and sold two.

“That was where I saw that I could make a decent living with art. After that I didn’t stop, I practised, I studied, I researched about artists, I did a lot just to put my name out there. People loved the work and the ideas behind the work, which documents the lives of people in my surroundings, often using found objects or discarded materials. For example, in my series Dying to Live, I used a cardboard box, a plastic canister for carrying water and zinc corrugated iron for building a house. The plastic canister was a young boy drinking water from a tap, the corrugated iron was a young man moving from the rural areas to the city in search of work, and the third one was an old man looking through the black plastic bags on the street searching for food to eat. The thinking behind it applies even today after the corona pandemic. People from the township are dying to live. That was me, I was dying to live, dying to survive, dying to make a name for myself. As artists, we search for success everywhere. We go to small galleries, big galleries, art markets and events. The concept behind that series still applies to me today.”

The snowball effect continued and in 2012 when Banele was invited to a workshop for local emerging artists for visiting gallerists from the USA, he was one of two artists selected to travel to Chicago to visit galleries and interact with local artists. It was a trip that had a profound impact on his art and his business. Since then, Banele has not looked back, with his art now in collections in the USA, South Africa and elsewhere. No one will ever be washing it off a wall again.

“For me art is a way to make a living and support my family, secondly a way to express myself, and thirdly a way to leave a legacy. I want to be like George Pemba. I want the kids to learn about me and how I tried to communicate with society. If you see the way Pemba created art, he takes you to a life they lived then. I take you to the life that we live now. In the future, my kids will read about me. The life they live then will be different from the life we live now.”

18 Artist Profile
For striking art that reflects one man’s community, keep an eye on the work of mixed medium artist Banele Njadayi.
Follow Banele on Twitter or Facebook (@BaneleLoyisoArt) or Instagram (@BaneleLoyisoNjadayi)


From preparation to persistence, here’s Banele’s advice for young artists walking the often uncertain creative path.

Always Have Something To Show

When he was invited to show his work to visiting gallerists from Chicago, while most of his peers only had their sketchbooks, Banele was already prepared. That gave him the advantage to get picked for the trip to the USA where his exposure and learning was exponential.

“I had spent a lot of my time in my studio working so I had enough work to show them. While other guys showed them their sketchbooks, I could show my physical work. The gallerists loved it.”

You’re Both An Artist And An Entrepreneur

The cliché of the starving artist exists for a reason. Making a living off art is hard and many artists are not equipped to handle the business part of the equation. Banele gives back at the Masifunde Learner Development NGO ( in Walmer Township where he teaches the kids art, and a little more.

“I tell the kids at Masi, especially the senior ones, that they should focus on building themselves up not just as artists, but as businesses too. I’ve noticed that most artists lack that part. I’m not good at it, but I am learning. I did Business Studies at The Hope Factory ( for a year, which was very useful. There are similar programmes elsewhere.”

Learning Never Stops

Banele has a voracious appetite for art and is constantly looking to learn from his peers.

“You have to constantly be painting, drawing and improving your skills, reading books, studying other artists and doing exhibitions. In South Africa, I still look up to artists who are my age. When I am stuck, I go to their Instagram pages to see who has done what. It was the same in the USA. Because I am a curious person, I made a lot of friends in Chicago. Instead of learning about their life from TV, I wanted to learn directly from them, to find

out how they produce their work, what inspired them, etc. I learnt a lot, came back, and applied what I picked up to my work.”

Focus On What Builds You

Banele knows first-hand how hard it is to make a living from art. Struggling to make ends meet with the paintbrush, between 2006 and 2010 he gave up on art to work at Builders Warehouse as a sales consultant. Ill-suited to a nine-to-five job, with the arrival of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa he was inspired to give art another go.

“Young artists tend to give up on art because they do not see it making any money or a life for them, so they go find a job somewhere. It’s not a bad thing to find a job, but at the same time if the seed has been planted within you, it is your duty to water the seed so it can grow. Most of us fail to do that; we tend to look at what destroys us, instead of what builds us. Focus on what builds you. You must not give up.



Big City Exodus For

asks: What are you waiting for?

We were driving on the R62. I remember it clearly. We’d taken the scenic route home via the Langkloof, back to Cape Town from a holiday in the Eastern Cape, and somewhere between Joubertina and Misgund my wife and I made the decision to move. For us, it was an “easy” call. At the time we were both selfemployed and with both of us having had small-town upbringings we wanted our children to have the same.

That trip back to my hometown on the Eastern Cape coast was to celebrate our son’s first birthday. He turns 10 this week and we’ve never looked back. In fact, we’re in the process of making plans to move to an even smaller town.

For context, we left Cape Town for the Garden Route, much to the consternation of friends and family. “How will you survive?” “All your clients are in the city.” “What about schooling and health

Business executives, creatives and entrepreneurs are leaving cities to work remotely in small towns. Opportunities abound! Jazz Kuschke

care?” We’ve been fortunate that all those external fears have been quelled during the last decade as our visitors have seen firsthand the quality of private (and some government) schools, excellent hospitals, and good local governance. For us it was never an issue. However, what we have witnessed over the past two years is a massive influx into our area of professionals who are either commuting or working remotely altogether.

Back in 2001 Outside magazine published an article by Mike Grudowski on the best American towns to “live big, play hard and work (if you must),” as they put it.

“Early this Summer, demographers coined a new word for the kind of town you can now find outside of metropolitan areas all across America – a ‘boomburb’,” Mike wrote back then. Fast forward two decades and in South Africa (and the world) we now have “Zoom Towns” or “Teams Towns” in reference to the virtualmeetings platforms that exploded in popularity during pandemic lockdowns.

The pandemic has unequivocally changed how, and more importantly where, South Africans work. From top management down to junior clerks, more and more employees are working remotely, using apps like Zoom and Microsoft Teams for video communication. According to a report by the South African Property Owners Association, the representative body of the commercial and industrial property industry, the third quarter of 2021 saw SA’s office vacancy rate reach an all-time high of 15.4%.

While not all organisations are as comfortable and open to it, the pandemic proved that a work-from-home model is viable. Many South Africans have taken the step to move out of the big centres to work remotely in smaller towns.

01. Connectivity

According to Willem Haarhoff, who cofounded DoughGetters – an accounting firm that uses digital cloud technology to provide professional services from any location to any other location – internet connectivity is almost as important as good use of technology. “We make use of highly intuitive apps such as Asana to track projects and to collaborate – we have a whole ecosystem in the cloud,” he says. For that to happen, a high-speed broadband internet connection is non-negotiable. Something which in smaller towns has not always been readily accessible, with some municipalities adverse to the installation of fibre.

The process of laying fibre to the home is by nature rather destructive and noisy, with roads and sidewalks excavated with heavy machinery to accommodate cables. But with the influx of new residents looking to capitalise on the remote-working trend,

many municipalities have realised their mistake and broadband is now spread far more broadly. In our town, I’ve managed to go from having a hot desk in a co-working space (which had a fibre-to-business line) to working from a home office in the space of the past 12 months, thanks to a new fibre connection. Various fibre installation companies have jumped on the wave with the likes of Frogfoot having a big footprint in the Garden Route, Openserve turning places like Hermanus and Langebaan into Zoom Towns, while Lightstruck and others have focused their attention on outlying areas in the Northern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

The same thing is happening in the Karoo and beyond where, for example, Cloud Karoo, which has been an internet service provider to Cradock’s farming and town community for years, recently became part of HeroTel (South Africa’s largest fixed wireless internet service provider) and now installs aerial fibre throughout the region.

22 Big City Exodus For Small Town Bliss
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Going Home

Sean Holmes has made the most of his fibre connection over the past two years. Sean, his wife and two daughters (aged 11 and 13) spent the initial hard lockdown in Wilderness and never returned to Cape Town, except for business. Sean works in the property management and financial services industry. He is employed by a company based in the Mother City and has various personal projects on the go. “We managed to leave the city back then as I was able to fulfil most of my work obligations remotely and also had special travel permits, so I could call on our sites as and when needed,” the 44-year-old says.

Today his Cape Town commitments require him to commute to the city as and when needed and he believes the five-hour drive is a very small sacrifice. “At the very least I’m there for three or four days every month. I’m able to fulfil most of my obligations remotely but still need one-on-one meetings with key stakeholders.

For Holmes it was a case of moving home rather than relocating to a new town, or, as is a big part of the trend, settling in his preferred holiday town. “Having grown up on the Garden Route my plan was always to move back at some point to try to afford my children the same quality of life I enjoyed as a youngster,” he says. Covid expedited his exit plan from the city by about five years. “During all our time in the city, I have always held roots in the Garden Route by owning property here.”

While Sean and his family moved to a familiar area, it wasn’t without its challenges. “At the time of the Covid

move, it was hugely unsettling to us as a family and required a great deal of adaption and sacrifice, but now we all see it as a blessing in disguise. It all happened so suddenly and from left field,” he says, explaining how they uprooted their lives in the span of a week. “Sometimes being forced into doing something is the only way you ever get there, otherwise it just remains an idea.”

For Sean, the biggest advantage of small-town living is that you have a greater sense of freedom and community. “The ‘wants’ that eat away in your head seem to dissipate as living in this beautiful environment with your family overshadows the ‘wants’ for anything more,” he says. He does miss some aspects of city life. “We miss our friends. Over the years we built up strong, meaningful relationships with special people. At least we can visit often.”

The same pattern has unfolded in other towns. While the trend has been largely coastal and in towns that were traditionally holiday towns, it has also been happening in the hinterland from Greyton to Prince Albert and Pilgrim’s Rest. Unfortunately, there are a few of the more industrial hamlets and outposts that have suffered the opposite and are decaying and dying out at almost the same rate at which the Zoom Towns are booming.

03. Beyond Remote

For established locals in these smaller towns, it is exciting to see new energy and to benefit from the boom. According to John Thoabala, this influx of people has had a significant ripple effect on the smaller local economies. John runs Mavungana Flyfishing in Dullstroom. The specialist fly-fishing store offers guided fishing on various waters in the area and also sells high-end tackle, and John has seen a big trend in his seasonal and weekend clientele from Gauteng moving to the area permanently. This in turn has meant more work opportunities in the local economy, particularly in the tourism and hospitality sector.

“There is more work in the area now and the salaries are better, which means fewer of the local youth have to leave the area and flock to the cities in search of jobs. They can stay in the area, earn a good living and contribute to helping the local economy grow even further,” he says.

Michael Wilmot, who heads up the Pam Golding Properties Kenton-on-Sea office echoes John’s sentiments. “It’s exciting times for us in the smaller towns. Traditionally local businesses were super seasonal – we’d have these big peaks


inevitably followed by big drops and we struggled to keep our economy going in the downtimes. Now we have more people in the area who contribute to the local economy, which also means more local job opportunities. There’s been quite a surge in younger people in the last two years.”

According to Michael, what happened in the towns of the Sunshine Coast (the area between Gqeberha and East London which includes Port Alfred, Kenton-onSea, Bushman’s River Mouth, Boknes and Cannon Rocks) over the past 18 months is a prime example of what has happened

in other smaller towns. “There was an initial influx during the hard lockdown, people got stuck, and then stayed by choice,” he says. “Many high-flyers were staying in their holiday homes, running their businesses from there. But now that has also been supplemented by an influx of younger people.” Michael believes that people are in search of a particular lifestyle earlier, whereas in the past they may have worked to “live during retirement”.

“Small towns offer a significant change in pace from fast, urban living. Small towns have space, the properties

are more affordable, and workers (potentially) spend a lot less time commuting which means more time with family,” he says.

The trend has also been very good for the property market. 2021 was an outstanding year for Michael’s estate agency and the Eastern Cape experienced a rebound in house prices. “Average prices increased by a significant 8.16% year-onyear between May 2020 and 2021, the strongest growth in house prices in the region since late 2007,” he says.

On the other side of things, property values have dropped by as much as 25% in certain areas of Gauteng. In January 2022, Cy Jacobs, founder of 36ONE Asset Management, posted an image on Twitter of an abandoned luxury home in Sandown, close to Sandton City, Johannesburg, with the caption: “Sandown, centre of Sandton, previously wealthy Northern Suburb,

How To Make Remote Working Work

“For remote working to function throughout the organisation, one needs to understand what cultures are required and implement those from top management all the way to the bottom,” says Willem Haarhoff of DoughGetters. If you’re planning on relocating to a Zoom Town to work remotely, make sure these boxes are ticked:

Big City Exodus For Small Town Bliss

now with many abandoned houses, foreclosure notices and overgrown foliage, guessing banks problems as values dropped so much so better to abscond. JHB problem.”

04. Geography

For Astrid Forbes, the move wasn’t a financial decision and was not significant in distance or geographical terms but has completely changed her and her family’s life. Astrid is the Operations Director at Genergy, an alternative energy corporation based in Gqeberha. Astrid, her husband Michael and three children recently relocated to St Francis Bay, about an hour’s drive from Gqeberha. For them, the move was not lockdown related but rather sparked by how business has been done since.

“The realisation that a lot of work can be done remotely and the convenience of online meetings was a big thing,” Astrid says. She now commutes to Genergy’s head office two to three times per week but also has a small office in St Francis Bay. “During the past two years we had also started homeschooling our two older kids (17 and 18), so school was not an issue anymore.”

As seems to be indicative of the trend, some obstacles needed to be overcome. “We had almost given up, actually,” Astrid admits. “Trying to find a property that we could afford was by far the hardest part, but we eventually found something that suited us. It required a lot of work, but we got it done and it even accommodates my mom who lives with us.”

St Francis Bay has ticked a lot of boxes for Astrid and her family. “There’s even great entertainment from time to time,”

she jokes, explaining that while the younger generation might miss that part of city life, she doesn’t. According to her, they’ve found small-town people to be less aggressive and less rushed than city dwellers.

“There really is a strong sense of community,” she says, “in addition to the great access to nature, beaches, good waves for surfing and an estuary system excellent for paddling.”

Astrid perhaps best summed up what all the Zoom Towners feel strongly about (even though some have become proper small-town locals in such a short period of time that they might want to keep it a secret…). If you want access to the great outdoors – waves, trails and rivers – and be part of a supportive, uplifting community without compromising your livelihood, there are great options in South Africa. And now is the time.

The Company Has A 100% Top-Down Approach

According to Willem, “widdle management” is something of a superfluous term in the remote organogram.

“Remote working is not about appointing a middle manager in the business and relying on them to make sure the ‘working’ happens. The most senior person in the organisation has to buy into the culture and functionality. They have to believe it, live and breathe it, and only then will the right kind of culture flow through the rest of the business.”

Real Face Time Is Important (For Some)

There is something about being able to wander over to a colleague to quickly discuss a problem, or just to talk nonsense. Willem says that not everybody is cut out to work remotely. “If a business is serious about remote working it has to create an environment for those who are not comfortable working in their kitchen, co-working space or coffee shop. You have to make room for people who work in different ways, and come up with clever ways to integrate everyone and help them thrive.”

Is There Scope For Growth?

“The ability to demonstrate to your workforce how they can grow in their careers is crucial,” says Willem. This is obviously not necessarily unique to remote working, but it is not to be underestimated if you are planning to move to a smaller town and work remotely. “Hiring someone to work in our business is not only a case of employing them to add value to us as an organisation; there has to be a high degree of reciprocity.”

Forget About “Work-Life Balance”

“We don’t buy into the ‘work-life’ balance philosophy that gets bandied about nowadays. We believe it’s more about ‘integrating’ work and life,” says Willem. What that means is that for you to really reap the lifestyle rewards of your Zoom Town move, you need to take full control of your day (from work to eating meals, exercising, spending time with your family, whatever). “For us, ‘work’ is part-and-parcel of life. We love what we do. Our team has a wide range of skills and talents, and therefore we try to be razor-sharp in allocating roles and responsibilities accordingly.”



Jacques Burger (JB): Hey Tshiamo! Always good to see you!

Tshiamo Molanda (TM): You too, JB!

JB: You know, I was thinking that you’ve got so much wisdom to share with people; on style and fashion, on killing it in your career, on success, on making money. But rather than talk about success, why don’t we talk about money today, which is kind of linked, but not the same thing, is it? I know plenty of successful people who might not have a lot of money. A late uncle of mine used to say, if only people spent as much time working with their money as they spent making it!

TM: That’s so true JB, sounds like he was a smart man.

JB: Smart yes, but also a little mad, ha-ha! But I do remember that quote like it was yesterday – it has always stuck with me. What is one of the very first memories you have that involves money?

TM: For as long as I can remember money has been part of me, and my memories up until early adulthood always revolved around having very little of it and having to make a plan to make the Rand stretch to cover the month. A memory that is still quite vivid is of my first year of working and having to make my salary work to balance paying off student loans, clothing accounts, rent, my first car, basic necessities, and still being able to have some sort of a social life.

JB: My first year working strategy was to spend weekends at my in-laws! That certainly helped to cut down on the grocery bill. I suppose we all have stories to tell about making money work harder for you or stretch further – it really talks to being active around how you spend money, doing it consciously versus just swiping without proper consideration. I feel like, as you start to earn more money, you start to spend without proper consideration – think about all the smart moves you made when you had to hustle to really make it last. I wish

we could be more disciplined in how we apply those smarts.

TM: You’re so right, but I think the smartest money decision I ever made came much later in life when I saw how much I could really get back in a month if I paid off all my loans so that I only had my car to pay off. This also included rationalising of many insurance and funeral plans I had taken out for family members. I took time to pay off the loans, but I have never looked back from that decision and the sacrifices I made so I could have a much better cashflow at the end of each month. I learned that there is good debt and bad debt, but most importantly, that you can still have debt as long as 30% of your income goes towards savings – that has given me proper freedom.

JB: Freedom. Wow. I find that when you focus not on what you have at the beginning of the month, but rather how much you have at the end of the month, it really helps to make you less anxious about money and especially spending

28 #INTUITION Finance
A conversation with Standard Bank Head of Youth Tshiamo Molanda and M&C Saatchi Abel Co-founder Jacques Burger.

what you don’t have. There is nothing worse than those first two weekends of big spending and then two weeks of Cup-a-Soup. It may feel like freedom when you hit that big shopping spree after payday, but when it leads to anxiety around making it to month-end, it reverses the whole feel-good factor. But gosh, we’ve all been there! I remember deeply regretting buying a pair of new sneakers I couldn’t really afford – it felt good in the moment, but very shortly thereafter all I wanted to do was take it back as I literally started getting scared that any emergency would land me in a very embarrassing position as I would have to go begging, with almost no money left in my account and almost a week left till payday.

TM: I don’t know why we do this to ourselves. I recall having too much debt to a point where I was using one debt to pay off another debt with no savings to fall back on. This created a lot of anxiety around money and meant living from one pay cheque to the next.

JB: In the end it’s just not worth it. The really liberating thing I’ve learned is exercising your choice not to buy something that you don’t really need. Instead of fooling yourself into believing you have to have that new pair of shoes, rather convince yourself that you can afford it (technically, you kind of can), but that you don’t need it. It’s a really great feeling when you resist the temptation to buy something and turn that good decision into a mental reward!

TM: But sometimes we need an awesome pair of new kicks, hey?!

JB: 100%! I think it’s about balance, and

good principles. What’s the top money advice you can offer young people today?

TM: Understand interest rates. Know what you are spending on, every single cent. Save – that will keep you from creating more debt when rainy days hit. People often tell me they don’t earn enough money to save, but I say just make a start! Start with R10 a day, that is R3 600 in a year, excluding interest. Find an instrument that creates the discipline for saving. If you start big it can be daunting. Also shop bargains and save the change. Start small.

JB: Imagine we could make saving as sexy as spending? I think that if we start to look at saving as an enabler to spending, more people might get into it!

TM: I agree with you! And there is a lot you can do to make more of what you have and create more opportunities to save. Pay off your debt – it’s expensive! Don’t compete on material items – they will come. Just watch how the ultra-rich dress. Rationalise insurance policies, cellphone contracts and banking (too many bank accounts mean multiple fees).

JB: That’s really great advice. But are we sounding a bit boring perhaps?

TM: It’s definitely not about being boring. It’s about balance – I like the idea of 30, 50, 20: 30% on required debt, 50% on living, 20% on saving. If possible, reduce the 50% on living to 40%, so that you can save 30%. To further help me manage spend, I make a wishlist every year, from what I want to buy for myself monthly to home improvements and experiences, etc., and manage my money based on that. Every quarter I

revisit my wants and adjust them based on what I can afford. I’ve learned a lot from my parents in terms of hardship, but also striving for balance – their focus was to build a house, put kids through school, and repeat. No leisure, no nothing. They sacrificed all they had to put their kids through school, including at times buying themselves basic things. Through that sacrifice and learning how bad it can be, I am clear that I would give myself and my kids a lot more, else it was not worth it for them.

JB: Inspiring stuff! Now, here’s a thought, what would you do if I gave you R100 000 today?

TM: I would save it and invest in educating more students. I believe in investing in communities. The “Each one, teach one” concept. You invest in one and you improve the life of an individual and therefore their families.

JB: So much more rewarding than a new pair of shoes! I once heard this quote that goes, “In life you get because of what you give, not what you take.” If more of us looked around us to our communities and how we can change lives, sometimes with very little, the world would be a better place! Final piece of advice?

TM: Stay away from debt and when buying anything big, do your research: a car comes with petrol, insurance, and tires to be changed.

JB: Thanks, Tshiamo – you are living proof that you can be considered AND cool! Thank you for valuable advice and really refreshing perspective on money and how to manage it successfully.



From investing like a deceased janitor to keeping an inner scorecard and understanding what happiness truly means, as advice from financial experts goes Steven Nathan is a little unusual. With over three decades in finance, the founder and former CEO of 10X Investments lays out the most important lessons he’s learnt.

32 Health, Wealth & Happiness

It’s Not Just You

I bet that you find it difficult to save money. Maybe you want to get into investing, but you don’t know where to start. The first thing to understand is that you are not alone; being clueless in these areas is completely normal. Most people, financial advisors included, are terrible at this stuff.

There are a couple of reasons for this. One reason is human nature: people are just very bad at making long-term decisions. There’s a ton of research about why that is the case, but the short answer is that we live in the present with a strong attachment to the recent past.

rate is as bad as ever. Seriously. When I entered this industry, I remember being struck by the statistic that only 6% of South Africans achieve an adequate retirement. Thirty years later that statistic is exactly the same. This isn’t just in South Africa, it’s a challenge globally. When you consider how other sectors like technology, agriculture and health have all made massive improvements,

for a completely different approach.

I believe we need to be much more emotional rather than logical when we try and guide people’s financial decisions, because people respond to their emotions. To get people to implement the right behaviours, we have to look for an emotional connection, that motivational driver. It’s much more a carrot rather than a stick approach. It’s much more humanising.


However, the main reason we suck at saving and investing is because the financial industry’s approach to educating people is so ineffective. The overarching idea of a stick today for a carrot in 40 years’ time can be summed up as, “Don’t have that coffee, save, save, save, be frugal, save, save, save some more, because when you are old your future self will be happy.” The problem is, most of us can barely think about next month, let alone next year or, heaven forbid, our old age.

Bring Emotion Into It

Despite all the talk about financial education and literacy by investment companies and regulators, theres’s been no visible improvement and the savings

it defies logic that the financial/investment industry has been left behind, yet here we are. If an industry collectively has had zero improvement in 30 years, there’s a problem.

At the root of this problem is the belief that once people know what to do they will change their behaviour. The reality is that people just don’t work like that. Take food and healthy eating – we know what to do, yet obesity and diabetes are on the rise. The same goes for sleep. Most of us know we need eight hours of sleep yet we stay up too late looking at bright screens and land up feeling constantly exhausted. Why did we think it would be any different with money? Having seen how ineffective financial education and literacy can be, I advocate

This way of thinking was a revelation to me because, as a numbers guy, I am very unemotional when it comes to finance. This was part of my approach at 10X Investments and it went against conventional wisdom, which decrees leaving all emotions at the door.

There’s an excellent true-life example of how emotion motivates people from Morgan Housel’s must-read book, The Psychology of Money. He tells the story of a janitor who dies. This guy led a very low-key modest life, no one knew who he was, yet when he died he left several million dollars to charity. People were confused as to how on Earth a janitor managed to have so much money. But he had been saving 40-50% of his income over 50-60 years and investing it in index funds. He didn’t touch it and it just compounded.

In contrast to the millionaire janitor, Morgan gives another example of a genius, Harvard-educated high-flying finance exec who made tens of millions of dollars and “retired” at a young age. In his retirement he was trading markets


and was heavily leveraged with illiquid luxury properties going into the 2008 financial crisis. He got wiped out and lost everything. The way Housel tells these stories drives home some important points. Patience trumps greed, appetite for risk and financial security do not go together, and successful investing is about the decisions you make and your emotional state.

The janitor and the lawyer were motivated by very different emotional drivers.

Money Happiness

When it comes to investing and finances, my approach is to help people achieve financial happiness today and every day thereafter. To be clear, that’s financial happiness rather than financial success or financial wealth. Financial happiness means not having the financial stress that so many people have. You know the kind of stress I’m talking about… That constant heaviness that comes with being over-indebted, that feeling that eats away at you because you are always owing something, and your bank balance empties in seconds after pay day. Having a permanent debt cloud over your head is a terrible way to live.

To achieve financial happiness, you first need to get to grips with one of the really big questions in life – what is happiness? Many of us, especially young professionals who have earned their first decent pay checks, equate happiness with spending. If this sounds familiar to you, don’t be too hard on yourself. We’ve all been there. We’re bombarded by pop culture cues that glamourise money as the route to hap -

piness. Societal ideas like “retail therapy” come to mind. The truth is that money is a terrible barometer for a happy life. Yes, there’s a baseline level where the money-equals-happiness equation holds some truth, but it is not as high as you think. As history is our guide, big money, silly money, Kim Kardashian/ Patrice Motsepe/Johann Rupert/Elon Musk money, will not make you happy (though I acknowledge we’d all like to be the judge of that). That does not mean you should not be ambitious or aim to be well-paid, but if happiness is your primary goal, money should not be the ultimate driver.

Don’t believe me? Would you believe the results of the longest and most thorough study on happiness every conducted? Started in 1938, the Harvard Study of Adult Development took two groups of men from Boston – one made up of well-off people that attended Harvard University and another group from poorer areas of Boston. They followed these 724 people from when they were teenagers for over 80 years. In fact, this fascinating study is still going today with the 50-odd participants who are still alive.

The results conclude that the secret to happiness comes down to one thing: love. Namely, the relationships you have with your spouse, your family, your friends, and your community. After that come meaningful experiences. It’s not as though money does not feature at all, but the decades of research into people with diverse backgrounds and income prove that in and of itself money is not going to lead to happiness. To the contrary, money can lead to stress. By trying to keep up with the Dlaminis, taking on unnecessary financial pressures and falling into debt traps – like repayments

on fancy cars, phones and mortgages – it is easy to get into a debt-trap from a young age.

It seems counter-intuitive, but once you can truly grasp that your happiness is about things other than money, you will be in the right sort of mindset emotionally to create wealth. That’s why, before I even think about telling people that they should be saving or advising them on the financial decisions they should be making, I try to get them to think deeply about one question.

What does happiness mean to you?

Wealth Vs Spending

One of the challenges with wealth is understanding what it is. The basic equation is this:

income less expenses equals savings. Savings invested and compounded over time creates wealth.

There’s a book, written well over 20 years ago, called The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley, which reveals some fascinating insights into what wealth truly is. The book was commissioned by private banks that were trying to find high net-worth clients, so they tasked the author with digging up the profile of millionaires. What he found is that in America, it’s more likely that a plumber will be a dollar millionaire than a lawyer. That’s because – and he has all the stats to back it up right down to how much both professions spend on a watch – the plumber stays in the same house for an average of 25-30 years, they take more affordable local holidays, they hold onto their cars for ten years, and so on. The plumber is frugal. On the other side of the equation, you’ve got the lawyer who is earning

Health, Wealth & Happiness 34


Health, Wealth & Happiness 36


ten times more than the plumber, but is spending 11 times more. The lawyer changes houses often (getting hit by transfer fees and agent commissions again and again), takes overseas holidays by default, and buys new cars all the time. The lawyer lives large.

Now return to the wealth equation. Wealth is your net worth, but wealth is invisible. Spending is visible. That’s a big problem in society because we associate spending with wealth. We do not associate spending with the debt, stress, or financial burdens that visible spending inevitably brings.

Returning to the example of the plumber and the lawyer, bear in mind that the people with whom you associate with influence you. If you are a lawyer, you associate with other lawyers. What do you talk about when it comes to money? You’re comparing spending notes. “I’ve got the latest Porsche,” “I’m going skiing in Aspen,” and, “My husband/wife wants a matching set of Gucci luggage.” When you’re a plumber, I wager the people you associate with don’t compare those kinds of notes. You’re probably having a braai on the weekends, hitting Builders to do some DIY (both because you can and because it

Lift Financial Barbells

When you’re saving, there are two things you should do, whether you’re a young person or not. It’s what financial advisers call a barbell. It might seem a little heavy at first, but it soon provides balances and makes you strong.

Thing 1 – Build An Emergency Fund

This means having cash saved in an account so that if the shit hits the fan –Covid strikes, you get retrenched, you need a big operation – you’re not down and out. You should have between three and six months of your expenses available in case life throws you a curve ball. Have it in some sort of liquid form, like a Money Market account. Start building up your emergency fund now.

Thing 2 – Build A Long-Term Fund

While you’re building up your emergency fund, you can build your long-term fund. What’s the secret here? Well, the secret of investing is that there is no secret. Own shares in great companies at a low cost, that’s it. Not just South African companies, but companies globally. And it’s so easy to do it these days. Go for low-cost index funds with small fees, which grant exposure to the best companies and guarantee market return. The alternative is to pay much higher fees, hoping your fund manager can beat the market – which nine out of ten fund managers can’t do. And the one-in-ten manager who may beat the market is seldom able to repeat this going forward. So, don’t fall prey to a slick sales pitch. Don’t be greedy, and remember – the goal is for you to build wealth, not to make a fund manager rich. In investing, things are frequently counter-intuitive.


saves you money) and watching the football with mates. What’s more, because you are living within your means, not only are you actually wealthier than a lawyer, you also haven’t got the stress that comes with unnecessary, ego-related expenditure. To be clear, it’s the lesson and not the professions that are important here. You could be a plumber who bankrupts himself by buying Bugattis, or a lawyer who lives with the grounded outlook of Thomas’s American plumber and builds serious wealth.

20% per annum is impressive, but it’s not outstanding. There are other investment managers, like George Soros, who




Start Young & Compound

The person widely regarded as the most successful investor of all time is Warren Buffett, aka The Sage of Omaha, the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. There’s so much written about him, from his strategies to how he analyses businesses and how, for him to invest in it, a business must have an enduring competitive advantage. What nobody really talks about though, is that Warren Buffett is the most successful investor of all time because he has been investing for decades and has hardly touched the money. Buffett filed his first tax return at age 14 and started his investment partnership at 25, which means he has been investing for almost 70 years and his money has compounded. The actual rate of return that he has got of just over


have achieved 30% and even people who have achieved 40%. The major difference is that no one has done it for close to 70 years.

The punchline with Buffett is that 95% of his wealth was created after the age of 65. So, when most people are retiring, he’s making most of his money due to the long-term compounding of his wealth. If you take anything from the ways of Warren Buffett, let it be this: start investing as young as you can. Even if it’s just small amounts now. When you are Buffett’s age those small amounts will be worth a lot more.

Develop An Inner Scorecard

Forget the glamorous financial centres of New York, London, and Tokyo.

Warren Buffett sits in Omaha. For 40 years nobody knew who he was. Now they know who he is, and he doesn’t care anyway, because Buffett operates by what he calls an “inner scorecard”. Most of us have an outer scorecard, which is about impressing others with material things. It’s an approach that never really makes you happy because it’s about stuff that you perceive makes other people happy, not you. In contrast, Buffett lives by what is important to him. Where other billionaires buy football teams and superyachts, despite his vast fortune (99% of which he is giving away through The Giving Pledge while still alive), Buffett does things differently. He lives in the same modest house he bought in the 1950s, still uses a simple flip phone, drives a Cadillac and eats at McDonald’s every day. While the frugal life Buffett lives might seem a little extreme given how wealthy he is, the point is really that material success is not what drives him. By living according to his inner scorecard, he tap dances to work every day at age 91 and leads a very happy and fulfilling life.


Unleashing yourself from outer scorecards is a difficult thing, especially when younger. It seems to be something that you think matters more when you are young, to people in their 20s, 30s and even 40s. Social media

Health, Wealth & Happiness

doesn’t make things easy because everyone is showing off small, curated glimpses of their lives that declare they are having the best time ever even if they are miserable. But the older people get, the less you see them comparing what they have relative to other people their age. That’s because they have realised, over a lifetime, what’s important. It all comes back to your inner scorecard.

Studies are often conducted on the elderly, or on sick and dying people, asking them what life advice they have, what life lessons they learnt, or if they have any regrets. You never hear them say, “I wish I’d spent my money on that boat.” Their responses are always centred around wishing they had more time with family and friends, and more time doing things they enjoyed, like being in nature. They never wish they had spent more time at the office or had put in more hours to hit that target and get that bonus that one year. You know that saying, “The best things in life are free”? It’s true.

Take Emotions Out Of It

Most people are bad investors, including financial advisers. Investing is not easy to do unless you understand where the limitations are and where you can make mistakes, and to then have the wherewithal to do it. Emotions – panic, fear, greed, confidence – get in the way. As stated earlier, while emotions are needed to change behaviour and get people to engage with wealth creation and money for the right reasons, they can be dangerous if they overrule common sense. I’ll give you two examples to illustrate this:

Reading List

The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel

This is an exceptional book that’s had a really big impact on people’s thinking. Morgan is a very accomplished writer on finance and investments whose whole approach is about psychology – how our emotional state drives our decision making rather than our income levels or our technical expertise. He’s a brilliant storyteller who believes we should not explain things in charts or graphs, but instead we should tell stories.

Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Dan Heath

What Dan says is that we all have an elephant (our emotional side) and a rider (our logical side) within us.

If the rider wants to go right and the elephant wants to go straight, then you are going to go straight because the elephant is too powerful. So, the first thing you have to do is motivate the elephant, then you guide the rider, and lastly you have to ease the path. The author gives all these examples and the most fascinating stories from around the world of how people achieved change.

The Little Book of Common Sense Investing by John C. Bogle

Another great book that covers timeless investment principles. It’s about psychology. It’s not emotional. John hammers the same points – don’t try and beat the market or chase sexy, actively-managed funds where financial mediators make a fortune. Make more money by investing in an index fund, keep investing and just leave it alone. When you open that envelope many years down the line, you will be very happy with yourself.

Manage Your Money Like a F*cking Grownup by Sam Beckbessinger

Written by a South African for South Africans, the advice in this brilliant book is super practical and accessible. From understanding compound interest to inflation, avoiding debt traps and getting to grips with the psychology around money, it’s designed to set you up to manage your finances (like an adult) for life.



The thing about investing is most of the stuff you are told to do – “Listen to the experts,” “Follow the markets,” – is rubbish. If you watch these financial TV shows – Bloomberg, CNBC, and so on – there’s a fast-trading floor urgency about them. The message is always that this stock is shooting the lights out, but if you have shares in that other one you’re going to lose everything. It’s the same design as social media – they want to capture your attention and to get you to stay for as long as possible. The way these shows do that is by looking at investing with a negative bias. You look at the screen and see this ticker tape scrolling across the bottom – OIL IS GOING THROUGH THE ROOF, CHINESE PORK FUTURES ARE UP, UKRAINIAN AGRICULTURAL EXPORTS ARE DOWN. It’s too complicated to understand at a glance and all it does

is keep you paranoid and anxious. What I recommend people do is to not watch financial programmes at all. If you do watch them, think of them purely as entertainment and certainly not as educational. If they really knew what they were doing, they would not be telling you what they know on TV.

Read that again.

They. Were. Dead.


Because they were dead, these clients did not do anything to their investments. They did not engage in what we call rearview mirror investing, where after the fact everyone claims to be a genius. When technology ran, they did not try and chase it, nor did they try and go for crypto or whatever the latest fad was. Dead people don’t watch the news on CNBC and decide to sell all their shares because “inflation is going back to where it was in the 1980s and we’re going to have another market crash.” Nor do they lament that, “I should have invested in Bitcoin.”


Fidelity, one of the biggest asset managers in the world, did a fascinating study focusing on which of their clients achieved the best long-term results. What they found is that the cohort that did the best were those that had died.

Behind The Wheel

As with any investment, when it comes to cars you can chase after the newest, priciest and riskiest thing, or you can buy the best quality that you can afford, diligently pay it off, then drive your vehicle for several years before moving on.

Studies confirm what you’re probably thinking: owning and driving the same car for years on end is boring! In fact, when people buy a new car, they are more or less indifferent to it after only six months.

One of the worst financial traps you can fall into is responding emotionally to that novelty factor by upgrading your car every other year, suffering the brunt of larger payments, and being in permanent debt on a depreciating asset. But stick it out and after just five years your car could be paid off

We can all make up stories to justify investment decisions. But behaving like this gives you lots of anxiety. If you accept that as a regular human being you have weaknesses and are vulnerable to emotional manipulation, you are already ahead of the curve.

and you’ll be able to invest that monthly installment elsewhere or make faster inroads on your home loan.

With the range of choices out there you can have nice things while being smart with your money too. Research secondhand market value, total cost of ownership (are spare parts abundant? How much are services after the maintenance plan?), the best interest rates on your financing deal, and shop around – you should be living with your decision for a while.

Health, Wealth & Happiness

Power To The People



The energy sector is undergoing a fundamental reset. Driven by the need to address the climate crisis – an existential threat to life as we know it – the world is working to replace coal, oil and gas with zero-emission energy technologies, including solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, tidal and nuclear. This is a massive task, perhaps the biggest undertaking in human history.

But it also brings immense opportunity, particularly as South Africa looks for the fastest and most affordable ways to end rolling blackouts or “load shedding”.

How We Got Here

South Africans have endured almost 15 years of load shedding. Frustratingly, the ongoing energy crisis has its roots in the late 1990s when policymakers effectively ignored warnings that demand for electricity would overtake supply by around 2007. When it was already far too late, the government embarked on two massive coal-fired power projects, Kusile and Medupi. Everything about these projects was rushed and, by that point, power utility Eskom had already

let go of key staff needed for new-build projects. The result? We now have extensive design flaws that are still being addressed today, huge delays in commissioning projects and eye-watering cost overruns that have nearly sent South Africa into a debt spiral. In the meantime, a number of old coal-fired power stations have reached their normal end of life. But we’re still trying to squeeze a little more out of them because, well, we need all the power we can get.

Because the country now has a chronic shortage of available generation capacity, Eskom can’t take its worn-out power stations offline to do proper maintenance. Most of its plants have been run too hard for too long and are in a dire state. For Eskom to take plants offline for thorough maintenance, South Africa would need another 4GW to 6GW of new capacity. The scariest part? That figure will continue to grow because numerous power stations are scheduled to be decommissioned in the years ahead.

The power crisis has placed a hard cap on the country’s economic growth and jobs market. Put simply, if there isn’t a reliable and affordable supply of energy, businesses won’t build new factories

We know… Stage 8 load shedding, mass corruption and sabotage, Eskom is an absolute shambles and, as a result, our economy has never been weaker. But, as Nick Hedley explains, there is light at the end of the tunnel if South Africa makes the right decisions. And for entrepreneurs, opportunities abound.

and mining groups won’t open new mines. Alongside state capture and policy paralysis, this explains why South Africa’s progress in the first decade and a half of the democratic era was reversed after 2007.

There is, however, a glimmer of light. Huge advancements in renewable energy technologies, coupled with positive regulatory developments, mean we could finally close the chapter on load shedding and get back to building South Africa.

The Coal Phase-out

Fact. The world is shifting away from coal, oil and gas, and South Africa is falling behind.

In 2021, coal accounted for 84% of South Africa’s electricity production, well above the global average. Including hydro power, renewables represent just 11% of the overall mix, despite South Africa having some of the best solar and wind resources in the world.

For context, 98% of Norway’s electricity comes from renewable sources, while Kenya is not far behind at 92%. New Zealand, Brazil and Austria all get more than 80% of their electricity from renewables, while Canada, Switzerland, Portugal, Finland and Germany are above 50%. Most developed economies, including the US, are aiming to be at, or very close to, the 100% renewables mark within the next 13 years.

South Africa will take much longer and rightly so, as a developing nation. The country still has a sizeable coal energy fleet and most plants will only be decommissioned by the mid-2030s. Kusile and Medupi are expected to remain online until around 2050. So coal isn’t going away any time soon.


That said, it’s in the country’s own best interests to put the transition in motion. There are many compelling reasons showing why all new investments in energy must go towards emissions-free sources.

South Africa is one of the world’s most coal-dependent nations, and that’s more problematic than it sounds. Because the fossil fuel accounts for an abnormally large share of the country’s electricity mix, we are the 12th biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, the drivers of climate change. That’s far more than our fair share of emissions considering the size of our population and economy. For this reason, wealthy nations such as the US, UK, Germany, France, and the EU, have offered

South Africa $8.5 billion (R146 billion) in grants and cheap loans to very slightly accelerate its shift away from coal. Make no mistake, this deal is not about doing the right thing. Rich countries, that are most responsible for the climate crisis, are doing this in the interests of self-preservation. A full-blown climate catastrophe is a threat to all life, including their own citizens, and ours. BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, says developed economies should be doing far more. The firm says they should be giving developing nations at least $100 billion every single year in non-repayable grants alone. This would avoid global damages of at least ten times that

Power To The People 44

amount through damage to infrastructure, crop failure and other events. The worlds need to decarbonise, and fast.

The $8.5 billion climate finance deal, that wealthy nations hope to replicate in countries such as Indonesia, India and Vietnam, offers a much-needed lifeline for Eskom and could help this country to end its power crisis.

Ending load shedding fast should be our biggest priority. And there’s no need to bring new coal power into the equation, despite mineral resources and energy minister Gwede Mantashe’s wishes.

Firstly, coal power projects take roughly a decade to complete, or 15 years and counting in the case of Kusile

and Medupi.

Secondly, they’re now expensive relative to clean energy alternatives. In the latest round of South Africa’s renewable energy programme, the average cost of solar and wind projects came in at just 47c per kilowatt-hour. This is an all-in cost, covering construction, operations and maintenance, and it only applies to energy purchased by Eskom. If a solar or wind facility isn’t contributing to the grid, it doesn’t get paid. On the other hand, a new coal-fired power project would cost well over R1 per kilowatt-hour, according to the most recent project bids.

Then there’s the cost to public health. In South Africa’s coal regions, experts

say that between 2 200 and 5 000 people die each year from air pollution.

There’s also the significant risk to our export-oriented sectors. The EU and other markets will soon implement carbon border taxes, which will raise the cost of trading with countries reliant on fossil fuels, South Africa being a prime example. This means that if we don’t decarbonise our economy, our manufacturers, food producers and mining houses will be far less competitive globally.

At the same time, economists warn that coal and gas power plants will become costly “stranded assets” over time, meaning they will be shut before recouping what was invested into them in the first place.


Finally, there’s the most compelling reason to quit coal… the climate crisis. The world has warmed by around 1.15 degrees Celsius in recent decades, and scientists warn that we must do everything in our power to avoid heating of 1.5 degrees. Beyond that point, which we’re now only about a decade away from based on our current trajectory, “feedback loops” accelerate dangerously.

One of the most powerful feedback loops is the reduction in sea ice coverage in the polar regions. By reflecting solar radiation back into space, the white polar ice caps play an extremely important role in regulating and moderating the global climate. But as these shrink due to global warming, the darker ocean surface below is exposed and starts to absorb rather than reflect heat. This, in turn, accelerates warming further.

Due to its geography, South Africa is warming at twice the global average rate. In broad, overly simplified terms, the western half of the country is growing increasingly dry, hot and arid, while the east is becoming more prone to flooding. We have already seen this starting to play out in Cape Town’s recent drought and the floods across KwaZulu-Natal.

Each year that climate change advances, extreme weather events are becoming more severe, and more frequent. This poses a huge risk to food production, lives and livelihoods.

All things considered, coal simply must be phased out.

While some may argue that rich countries industrialised using coal and other fossil fuels, the reality is that those were the best and cheapest sources of energy available at the time. But technology has come a long way, and today, clean energy is the best we have. Economic



development is not contingent on fossil fuel use. It’s contingent on having cheap, abundant power.

Is Nuclear The Answer?

Many South Africans believe nuclear might be the answer to our energy needs.

And there is a case to be made for nuclear. Once costs are amortised over decades, it becomes a relatively affordable source of energy. This is why extending the life of the Koeberg power plant near Cape Town makes sense. The big spending took place decades ago.

Nuclear also doesn’t use much land and most importantly, it doesn’t generate emissions. Additionally, nuclear plants generally operate with high energy-availability factors, meaning they produce electricity consistently.

However, there are some serious downsides to nuclear energy, which explains why the technology has fallen by the wayside over the past two decades.

First, nuclear plants require massive upfront capital. South Africa’s shady

The Just Transition

With many of Eskom’s coal-fired power plants scheduled for decommissioning in the years ahead, it’s critical that government, civil society, unions and business put plans in place to protect livelihoods.

There is a considerable amount of work underway in this regard, led by the Presidential Climate Commission, but it’s important that we get it right.

The first big test will be at Eskom’s Komati power station, a 61-year-old plant that is being decommissioned this year. To preserve jobs and sustain the local community, Eskom is looking to establish a microgrid production facility, with the aim of electrifying farflung communities.

It’s also planning an agrivoltaic pilot project, whereby crops are grown below solar panels. Kenya is running an agrivoltaic project, and so far, the results are excellent.


nuclear deal with Russia would have cost well over R1 trillion, which would have pushed our debt levels very close to the 100% mark. That would be disastrous. The country would have a massive interest bill that would crowd out spending on infrastructure, healthcare, education and other important areas.

Second, nuclear power projects take an exceptionally long time, often as long as 15 years. In the meanwhile, our energy supply gap would continue to grow wider.

tific research organisation, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) said in a report that nuclear was simply too expensive and far too slow to build for the country to consider.

renewables-heavy grid, you need around 1GW of storage for every 4GW of solar and wind. Modelling in South Africa, which is at 11% renewables penetration, shows something similar.


Nuclear has also lost favour in the public domain following Japan’s Fukushima disaster in 2011. Radioactive waste management and South Africa’s shortage of nuclear skills are additional concerns.

A handful of countries, such as France, plan to add new nuclear power capacity as part of their net-zero plans. Most, however, are pushing ahead with renewables.

In early July, Australia’s main scien-

CSIRO’s modelling shows that solar and wind, including the cost of storage and transmission infrastructure, offer the least-cost route forward. That’s until they account for 90% of the electricity mix. Thereafter, other renewable sources such as hydro power, biomass and green hydrogen will be needed to get to 100%.

The Australian Energy Market Operator expects the country’s national grid to get to 80% renewables by 2030. The small state of South Australia is leading the way and showing what is possible with advanced battery technologies.

Importantly, the CSIRO found that the necessary investments in storage aren’t as big as some might think. In a

What About Hydro Power?

Hydro power is fantastic – if you have substantial water resources. Norway does, and most of its electricity comes from this cheap source.

While South Africa does have some hydro energy, including pumped storage, it’s a water-stressed country, and its water resources will come under more pressure as climate change advances. As such, we are already close to our potential when it comes to hydro.

There is perhaps more opportunity in tidal energy, given South Africa’s long coastline.

So, Where To From Here?

At the time of writing, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa was preparing an “emergency” plan to solve load shedding. What, exactly, in an ideal world, should that plan entail?

One thing it should not include is an ambition to build coal or gas power stations. We don’t have the time, the financial resources, or the carbon budget for those.

Mineral resources and energy minister Gwede Mantashe wants two new coal plants and a gas-to-power sector, having made provision for both in the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) of 2019. That plan is outdated, and anyway, it ignored the recommendations made by the Council for Scientific and Industrial

Power To The People

Research and other professional bodies. It’s time to update the IRP, but that can come later.

Ramaphosa’s emergency plan, according to numerous studies by energy professionals and system modellers, should be centred around renewables.

The National Planning Commission (NPC) agrees, saying that the country can ensure energy security in just two years by adding 10GW of new solar and wind capacity, plus 5GW of storage.

That’s a significant step up in South Africa’s renewable energy programme, but hardly overly ambitious relative to what’s happening in other countries.

Vietnam, for one, added nearly 10GW of rooftop solar capacity in a single year, while Germany plans to add 32GW of new wind and solar power every year as it targets 80% clean electricity by 2030.

The NPC has called for a national “energy emergency” so that red tape can be sidestepped, and says the 100MW licencing cap for projects should be ditched. Government could make the registration process an online one to speed things up.

And, similarly to what Europe is doing, environmental and water use approvals should be streamlined via the Renewable Energy Development Zone framework.

Most importantly, however, the commission calls for a temporary exemption from local content rules. Make no mistake, local content should be a priority in time, but energy security has to come first.

Going forward, South Africa could easily target 10GW of renewable energy procurement a year, rather than the current anaemic pace of 2.6GW.

Yes, there are grid constraints. The

Northern Cape’s transmission lines are at capacity, meaning the solar-rich province is unfortunately off limits for more projects until lines are upgraded.

However, there is still ample grid-connection capacity in provinces such as Mpumalanga, North West, Limpopo and the Free State.

Eskom itself recognises this, which is why it has started leasing land next to its power plants in Mpumalanga to renewable energy companies.

Missed Opportunities, But It’s Not Too Late

Meridian Economics, a specialist consultancy, found that 97% of loadshedding in 2021 could have been avoided if government and Eskom had merely continued with the renewable energy programme, which was stalled in 2016. Another 5GW of capacity would currently be online if it hadn’t.

Of course, the best time to resolve the power crisis was the 1990s.

Or the 2000s.

Or the 2010s.

The next-best time is now.

If the right decisions are made, South Africa could bridge its energy supply gap in just two years. That would allow Eskom to finally take its coal plants offline for full maintenance, meaning an even stronger grid going forwards.

Having a stable supply of electricity means companies can start investing in new operations and jobs with confidence.

Careers In Clean Energy

South Africa is barely scratching the surface of its clean energy potential. As this industry is unlocked, opportunities for entrepreneurs and workers will grow significantly.

Opportunities abound in sustainability more broadly.

Aside from local university qualifications, South Africans can take advantage of free online courses by the world’s leading universities, hosted on platforms like edX ( and Coursera (

Coursera offers courses on renewable energy and green building entrepreneurship, and on future energy systems, among others. edX is offering a free eight-week course by one of the world’s bestrecognised climate scientists, Michael E. Mann, and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals Academy. The course will look at the science of climate change and the global impacts. In most cases, the course materials are free, but participants will need to pay for their certificates on completion, if they want them.

Meanwhile, opportunities will begin to open up in new industries, such as renewable energy component manufacturing, agrivoltaics and green hydrogen, a clean replacement for gas.



Tired of all the negativity associated with the Nelson Mandela Bay region?

We are too, so to unlock the immense potential of its existing assets, we take a look at a few game-changing interventions.

Planning For Potential

There’s something that’s been bothering INTUITION’S brains trust for years and that’s the enormous unfulfilled potential of the Eastern Cape, specifically the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality. All over South Africa, we see huge opportunities for jobs, growth and prosperity, but this region really stands out as one place bursting with undeveloped possibilities.

Great schools, a wonderful university, lots of industry – on paper it already has so many things going for it. But what isn’t happening is that nobody is pulling all these pockets of potential together into a unified plan with a long-term vision.

For the record, we’re not naïve. Many of us come from there so we know full well how many problems the Eastern Cape, Nelson Mandela Bay and Gqeberha have to contend with. If it’s not an unprecedented drought leaving the taps and dams quite literally dry, it’s massive unemployment, unchecked corruption and poor leadership from politicians and business alike.

Rather than focus on all the things that are broken or wrong, for the purposes of this exercise we decided to focus on two things. Firstly, what the Nelson Mandela Bay region already has going for it in terms of existing assets. Secondly, to chart a vision that maximises those assets. The latter involves imagining a future where, with investment, leadership and foresight, this incredible part of South Africa can lift itself off its knees and become not just a regional powerhouse, but a global player too. We’re aware that some of these ideas are going to sound fantastical or “pie in the sky”. But here’s the thing: if we don’t raise our heads out of the doom and gloom that permeates and perpetuates all our thinking about the Eastern Cape, nothing will change. We have to think big.

After all, it was the region’s most famous son, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the very man the area is now named after, who once said, “There is no passion to be found playing small, in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

From places, to people and positioning, the Friendly City can turn its fortunes around. Here’s how. DOTS

A Healthy Fix-Ation

There’s a lot of finger-pointing going on around the water shortage that, since the severe drought began in 2015, has devastated much of the region. As the taps run dry people blame climate change, inaction by leaders, political infighting, and each other … with varying degrees of accuracy. None of this will make any difference in the short-term.

What will make a difference in the long-term is fixing things, in the most literal way possible. We’re talking about leaks, because one of the most galling statistics about the taps running dry is that, of water supplied to Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality every day, 30% (81 million litres) are lost to leaks. That’s a lot of water that really should not be running through the streets, into the sewers, through the city’s treatment plants and out to sea. The problem is obviously one of maintenance, but of poor administration too. Call in a leak and, if you manage to speak to someone at all (thousands of calls are dropped as no one answers), the average turnaround time to fix a leak is ten days.

There are two things coming together here. One is the desperate need for

skilled people. Not just a need for plumbers to fix the leaks plaguing the area’s water systems, but a need for skilled workers in general – electricians, carpenters, fitters, toolmakers, joiners, mechanics, you name it. The other is employment. One of the Eastern Cape’s greatest assets is its people, but the province loses a vast proportion of its adult population as they migrate mainly to the Western Cape and Gauteng looking for work as unskilled labourers. Why they move is understandable as there are so few job opportunities in the Eastern Cape. With national youth unemployment figures at a near record high of 63.9%, that’s unlikely to change unless the Eastern Cape creates jobs.

There are thousands of technical jobs that need doing, and there are a lot of people who need jobs. See where this is going?


What the area needs is a true north, and in our opinion, that can happen by positioning itself as a centre for technical excellence. There’s already a strong backbone of heavy industry in the Eastern Cape, from the automotive industry (Volkswagen, Isuzu and Mercedes-Benz plants) to the maritime industry and a growing renewable energy sector.

While there are a few TVET (Technical and Vocational Education Training) colleges, they’re not enough. There’s already a great university there, but that’s not enough either. By bringing back the old apprentice training schools, perhaps as an addendum to the existing university, you spark the beginning of a fundamental change for how Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality operates. These would be schools that give kids the opportunity to learn trades, whether


Leading by example, Volkswagen recently put in a water recycling plant that recycles production-related wastewater, reducing the company’s water consumption by 26% and saving thousands of litres a day. That’s just one of hundreds of companies across the region that could be doing the same.


that’s as electricians, plumbers, carpenters or mechanics.

Investing deeply in technical education will change the dynamic for the entire region. Water leak or electrical fault? Someone, either a municipal worker or an independent, can be there within the hour to fix it. A city that works markets itself. When the Metro and the city of Gqeberha start to function properly, it will create a snowball effect as industry and potential investors will see the area as an attractive place to invest. By finding its north star as a centre of technical excellence, the region will put a stop to all leaks, be they of the economic, labour or water pipe variety.

Gqeberha’s Got Game

Think “bush”, “safari” or “Big 5” and what probably comes to mind is the Kruger National Park, or perhaps places like Madikwe, Pilanesberg or KwaZuluNatal’s top parks like Hluhluwe-iMfolozi. While the Eastern Cape is not unknown as a safari destination, it is not right at the top of the list.

It should be.

From national parks like Addo Elephant National Park, which boasts the Big 7 (the Big 5, plus whales and great white sharks) to private reserves like Kariega, Shamwari, Kwandwe, Pumba and Lalibela, the Eastern Cape is stacked

with serious wildlife destinations. It’s a veritable Garden of Eden.

The funny thing is, if you grow up in Gauteng, you grow up with an orientation towards the Kruger. There is an understanding that it is right there on your doorstep, that it’s “yours” because it’s so local. Except it’s not. It’s half a day’s drive away in another province, right on the border with Mozambique. That’s not the case in the Eastern Cape, where Gqeberha can accurately claim to be incredibly close to multiple Big 5 options and in a malaria-free region!

To frame it globally, take the example of famous cities like Dubai or Bilbao. Dubai had to be created out of nothing.


It was literally built out of the desert sands. Today, as a real estate, shopping and tourism hub, it is one of the biggest destination cities in the world. Over in Spain, to revive Bilbao’s run-down port area and to put the city on the modern world map, they built a Guggenheim Museum there at vast cost. This exercise resulted in the term “the Bilbao effect” for how a landmark architectural building, like a museum, can transform a city.

Gqeberha is not in the same position as Dubai or Bilbao, because it is already sitting on a golden ticket provided by Mother Nature. It can be the gateway to some of the world’s best fauna and flora. But to do that you have to get the message across.


The tourism bodies that handle these kinds of things may exist, but judging by how little fanfare the Eastern Cape gets, they need not only to do a better job, but to present a coherent unified message

between the many parks and reserves, both national and private.

At least three focal points present themselves:

• 1 / Malaria-free. This is huge. Families with children under five will avoid areas like parts of the Kruger and northern KZN, because there’s a slight chance of malaria. The Eastern Cape boasts malaria-free bush options, and this should be a massive part of their marketing sales pitch.

• 2 / Easy access. To drive to the Kruger from Johannesburg takes four to five hours. From Durban to HluhluweiMfolozi takes at least three. From Gqeberha’s Chief Dawid Stuurman International Airport to Addo takes less than 60 minutes. Time matters. Neither domestic nor international tourists want to waste their precious leave days and hours travelling to their destination.

• 3 / Beach and bush. When people choose where to holiday in South Africa, the options are often reduced to “beach or bush?” That’s the beauty of

the Eastern Cape, versus a province like Mpumalanga that only has bush, or the Western Cape that has plenty of beach but no serious bush options. Visitors to the Eastern Cape don’t have to choose. They can have it all. Beaches with warm water and bush with the Big 7.

>>> The tourism potential of the Eastern Cape is massive. By getting the marketing right, imagine how many jobs could be created, from the reserves (rangers, drivers, hospitality and admin staff), to transport services, travel agents, increased flights, knock-on accommodation, restaurants and the informal economy.

It’s a simple equation. More visitors equal more jobs, which equals prosperity and a rise in living standards. Rather than migrating to other provinces looking for work, you’ll also see more people from the Eastern Cape choosing to stay in their home province because there is an abundance of opportunities, positivity and momentum.


The Windy City… And Proud Of It

Something Gqeberha is famous for (or infamous, depending on how you style your hair) is the wind, specifically a howling Southeaster. As a result, Gqeberha may not be earmarked as the venue for a future ATP tennis tournament but, from blowing away pollution, to powering wind farms, there are definite benefits to the wind.


Wind = waves and, with over 40km of clean wind-swept beaches (not to mention one of the world’s best waves at J-Bay only one hour away), the area claims the title of “Watersport Capital of South Africa”. But did you, as a South African, know that? How about your average windsurfer, surfer, kite surfer or sailor outside of South Africa? Yes, places like California, Bali and Hawaii have comparable watersport offerings, but the difference is that they go to town with their marketing. Nelson Mandela Bay can do it too.


Planning For Potential

Opportunities Port And Starboard

Did you know that a single cruise ship can generate R2 million in tourist spending per day? It seems like a ridiculous number but when you consider that an average-sized cruise ship holds 3 000 guests (not to mention tons of crew), the numbers start to makes sense. Each time a cruise ship docks in your port, the local economy gets a big boost through the thousands of tours, meals, gifts and mementos passengers and crew buy.

Before Covid, the global cruise industry was estimated to be worth $27 billion. It took a massive knock due to the pandemic, but according to the Mobility Market Outlook, it is projected to hit $34.1 billion by 2025. Coastal cities in South Africa have been working to get a slice of that pie with Durban and Cape Town jumping on the trend by building dedicated cruise terminals. Over the current 2022/2023 season Cape Town expects 104 ship visits made up of 26 cruise ships carrying more than 195 000 visitors. That’s a lot of tourist money that will feed into all levels of that city’s economy.

Gqeberha is visited by the odd cruise ship, but the city’s harbour is not properly set up for it with ships having to dock in terminals designed for the fruit industry. Once passengers disembark, they find themselves first in a working industrial harbour, and then in the run-down, crime-ridden city centre. Why would anyone want to do that to tourists? Even the powers that be see it in much the same way.

ernment’s official Cruiseline Strategy 2019-2024 paper, they list the challeng es facing the cruise ship industry in Nelson Mandela Bay as follows:

• Crime and safety of passengers

• State of tourist attractions, lack of facilities in certain areas of the city and operating hours

• Condition of harbour, access roads and surrounding areas/ urban deterioration

• Lack of dedicated terminal and passenger-friendly facilities, including access to transportation

• Lack of awareness of alternative cruise excursion offers and uptake of these by cruise liners

• Lack of sufficiently trained tour guides in the city, especially language-specific guides

• Lack of capacity to host the tourists, resulting in high leakage (there’s that word again!)

and development opportunities to be had with the port areas of the Nelson Mandela Bay region, but they entail making big decisions too. If the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality is serious about its future, it needs to decide A) what it’s going to do about the impact of the manganese export industry on the people of Gqeberha and the city itself, and B) where it is going to build a cruise terminal.


Over 30 years ago Cape Town made the decision to turn much of its run-down harbour precinct into what is today, the massively profitable V&A Waterfront, which is South Africa’s most-popular tourism destination with around 24 million visitors per year. Gqeberha needs to do something similar to at least a portion of its harbour area, as part of a greater inner-city renewal project, link-


ing the coastal areas with a rejuvenated inner-city district. We’re talking a waterfront precinct, with shops, hotels, restaurants, offices, a harbour for small boats, and a dedicated cruise terminal. In order for this to happen though, the city would need to make a deal with Transnet to get rid of the manganese ore dump and sort out the area’s pollution problem.


In 2002, work began on the Port of Ngqura in the Coega Industrial Development Zone just 24km (20 minutes’ drive) up the coast from Gqeberha, and in 2009 this brand-new deepwater port opened for business. Positioning itself as an industrial maritime gateway for transnational shipments, as a deepwater port,

Ngqura can handle massive cargo ships. That means, with the construction of an additional cruise terminal, it could also handle massive cruise ships. Building a cruise terminal at Ngqura would have multiple benefits. Not only would it allow the people of the Eastern Cape to harness the full potential of their modern deepwater harbour, but it would also unlock the potential of the greater Nelson Mandela Bay Metro area, outside of the developed areas of Gqeberha.

>>> Whether the city goes for Option 1 or Option 2 in developing a cruise terminal, it has to make a decision. Having two ports that prioritise heavy industry over everything else is holding the area back. There needs to be a balance.


Manganese is mined in the Northern Cape and then transported to South Africa’s two largest manganese export harbours, the Port of Ngqura and Gqeberha harbour. The manganese export industry makes Gqeberha a lot of money. Where the money goes, no one knows, but it comes at a huge cost to the inner city, traffic congestion and public health.

Exposure to manganese dust can lead to long-term health problems, including increased risk of Parkinson’s disease. A 2021 report by ASC Consultants found that manganese dust-fall in the industrial Markram area, where some manganese is stored between the two ports, is five times the permissible limit. Trucks hauling manganese into Gqeberha harbour run 24 hours a day. Due to their heavy load the city’s roads and storm drains are being destroyed (adding to the water problem), while wind blows manganese dust over pedestrians and cars. Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane announced in February 2021 that the harbour’s manganese terminal would be removed by the end of that year, but that has not happened. Transnet, which leases the land the terminal is on from the municipality, announced that the full removal of the manganese terminal to the port of Ngqura would only happen in 2027.


Planning For Potential

Cash In On Some Simba Chips...

$6.7 billion

That is what Disney Parks, which includes the massive 122km Disney World in Florida, the smaller Disneyland in California, Disneyland Paris in France, plus many other Disneythemed parks found across the USA and the world, made in just the second quarter of 2022. Bear in mind that that figure comes off the back of the Covid pandemic with people still wary about mingling in crowds.

Disney is a massive company with deep pockets, that invests within the USA as well as outside its borders to create family-friendly attractions that draw in crowds from all over the world. For many families, especially in the US, taking your kids to Disney World or Disneyland is a rite of passage.

One of Disney’s most famous products is The Lion King. From the original film, which holds the record as the most profitable traditionallyanimated movie ever made, to the many spin-offs that came from it – The Lion King musical (the biggest musical of all time), the merchandise, a 2019 remake of the film and more – The Lion King is a massive moneymaker for Disney. Generations of kids grow up watching Simba, Timon and Pumba and some get to meet them when their families make the pilgrimage to a Disney property.


We live in an experience economy. That applies to children even more so than it does to adults. What if we could tap into the obsession kids have with Disney’s computer-generated imagery of Simba, Timon, Pumba and even older African animal characters like Dumbo, by creating an African Disney attraction in the Eastern Cape?

It sounds far-fetched, but hear us out.

For starters, Disney already has a track record of opening parks and attractions outside of the USA, in Japan, China and Hong Kong. What they don’t have on their books are any attractions in Africa. Aside from the Animal Kingdom at Disney World, they don’t have any attractions that combine The Lion King cartoon characters with their real-world counterparts. They certainly don’t have them in an authentic, wild African setting. And if Disney’s strategists need convincing, the fact that Africa is the continent with the fastest growing middle class should make them take notice.

There is plenty of undeveloped land in the Nelson Mandela Bay area that could be perfect for a green, eco-friendly African Disneyland, a “real” Disney Animal Kingdom or perhaps a new kind of attraction focused on The Lion King that could incorporate classic Disney rides, a resident performance of The Lion King, plus hotels, restaurants and more.

The unique selling proposition of this concept is the many malaria-free game reserves where families can experience real-life Simbas, Jumbos and other animals. By roping in, say, 20 game farms in the area under a Disney-affiliated wrapper (much like you get a TripAdvisor stamp), both visitors and destination properties alike would benefit from the combo of Disney magic and the magic of nature.

This is where, in terms of proximity, the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro’s unique natural offering can really stand out. To get from Gqeberha’s airport to Addo’s southern Matyholweni Gate takes just 30 minutes, while from the Port of Ngqura it takes exactly 20. As an added bonus, which company has its own


cruise liner business? You guessed it – Disney. Imagine a Disney cruise that goes from, say, Cape Town to Gqeberha/ Ngqura, that includes all the familyfriendly onboard Disney entertainment of shows and Disney characters, then introduces its passengers to an African Disney ecosystem of wildlife, entertainment, accommodation and more. It would not be cheap to get it off the ground, but with investment partnerships from Disney and both national and local government, the potential of this project is huge. Visitors, both international and domestic, would drive or fly in to Gqeberha specifically to get the Disney experience with their families. Disney cruise ships would dock at the Port of Ngqura, offload passengers who then visit Disney’s property and all affiliated game reserves. From restocking the ships with food from local producers (the Eastern Cape has brilliant fruit, dairy and livestock farmers), to the impact it would have on employment, the local informal economy and other support industries, the sky is the limit.

Central Culture

There are no two ways about it, central Gqeberha is dangerous, dirty and rundown. That’s why many people do not understand why there are plans in motion to build a monumental structure called The Tower of Light in the iconic, yet decrepit, St George’s Park precinct. To us it makes perfect sense. Much like the Guggenheim in Bilbao, a landmark building like this could be the catalyst for turning around a decaying city.

Each level of the 27-storey Tower of Light represents the 27 years Mandela spent in prison. Part monument, part museum, the concept is one of an immersive, interactive experience and on each floor there will be audio recordings playing about Madiba’s life. From the top you will be able to take in expansive 360° views of the city and the bay. We’re 100% behind this idea for a number of reasons, but the biggest one is that the metro bears the name of the great man and as such it needs to reflect his legacy.


One of Gqeberha’s problems is the placement of its highways, which run along some of its most valuable coastal real estate and which contribute to a moribund city centre. It’s easy to point fingers and wonder why the hell city planners from previous centuries or decades made certain decisions, but there’s nothing (except money and political will) to stop us from making decisions today that benefit our cities in the future. Düsseldorf in Germany, which used to have four-lane highways along its waterfront, transformed the city by digging the Rheinufer Tunnel, which drops the highways beneath parts of the city. Up top they have an urban park and a waterfront for citizens to enjoy. Similar projects have happened in Madrid, Seoul, San Francisco and Seattle.


Planning For Potential


While The Tower of Light will be a brilliant way to start turning around Central Gqeberha, the momentum behind it needs to be maintained. There are plenty of other areas in and around that precinct that need attention too. With a bit of love, some strategic positioning, investment and effort these can be transformed into valuable assets for the local economy:

• 1 / Bring back a class act. Two of South Africa’s most famous thespian heavyweights, playwright Athol Fugard (above) and actor John Kani (above right), have very strong connections with Nelson Mandela Bay. Kani is from New Brighton township, the area’s oldest township. Athol attended school at Marist Brothers College in the 1930s and returned to the city in the 1960s to found the Serpent Players, a group of

black actors, that included John. John and Athol co-wrote the famous anti-apartheid play Sizwe Banzi Is Dead. Athol’s parents ran the tuck shop at St George’s Park cricket stadium and that was where he got the inspiration for his most famous globally celebrated work, ‘Master Harold’ … And the Boys. There’s an old, seldomused Shakespearean-style amphitheatre hidden among the trees at St George’s Park. As part of the precinct renovation,


Nelson Mandela’s name appears all over South Africa and for good reason. He is our nation’s most famous statesman. With the strongest claim to his name, Nelson Mandela Bay is positioned to harness his phenomenally powerful “brand” to uplift the region. Imagine an annual Nelson Mandela festival, like a G-8/Davos/Sundance Film Festival mash-up that brings together power players – the biggest thinkers, activists, philosophers and philanthropists – to solve the world’s problems. Done properly, not only would it put the city on the world map and fill its coffers, but it would further his legacy.


the existing amphitheatre could be cleaned up and rebranded the Kani/ Fugard Amphitheatre as a tribute to these local legends.

• 2 / Seed new life. The Victorian-era Pearson Conservatory in the heart of St George’s Park, opened in 1882. These days it is closed and even if it did open, people would be too scared to visit for fear of being mugged. As part of the precinct re-vamp, this should be reopened, the interior and surrounding gardens packed with indigenous Eastern Cape plants, much like Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in Cape Town.

• 3 / Revive the Red Location Museum. This brilliant museum in New Brighton which won architectural awards globally was designed as a tribute to the Eastern Cape’s struggle stalwarts. It now sits derelict and abandoned. Why not relocate it to a site either close to The Tower of Light at St George’s Park as part of a greater green urban park and culture centre, or adjacent to Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in the North End area?

• 4 / Make a splash. Right next to the city’s fabled cricket stadium is St. George’s Park swimming pool, which used to be world-class, but is now run down and often closed. Bring it back to life with day passes, galas and waterpolo competitions in the Olympic-size pool, and this facility will not just serve the city but bring in revenue, instead of being a drain on the city’s budget.

• 5 / A walk in the park. If the St George’s Park precinct can be cleaned up and if Gqeberha takes steps to transform its harbour into a touristfriendly waterfront with shops, hotels, restaurants and other attractions, then it is possible to link these areas via a promenade. We know these are big hypothetical “ifs”, but if a city like Cape Town could turn its waterfront around and link the city, the waterfront and their stadium together with a safe Fan Walk and a coastal promenade, why can Gqeberha not do something similar? There are so many existing assets in this city that we need to dust off to unlock their power and to begin joining the dots.


As you drive through Gqeberha, there are some basic things that make no sense. Like why, for example, does the city have miles upon miles of noxious and toxic industry right next to fragile ecosystems? There’s a sewerage works right next to a wetland. A beautiful suburb like Amsterdam Hook has a noxious carbon black plant right across from it. There used to be a swimming event at Red House on the Zwartkops River called the Red House River Mile, but, because of pollution, the event changed its name and moved to the Sundays River. Nelson Mandela Bay needs to move heavy industry inland, away from fragile environments where people live and play.



One of South Africa’s sharpest creative minds, Neo Mashigo, the M&C Saatchi Abel group’s chief creative officer, has been at the cutting edge of advertising and brand building for more than two decades. Whether working with leading brands like Nando’s and Takealot, co-founding creative collective I See A Different You, or his stewardship of industry non-profit organisation The Creative Circle, Mashigo has seen the good, the bad and the ugly of the industry.

Here, in his own words, is a creative cheat sheet for individuals, agencies and brands who want to stand out.

64 #IN Creativity

View Creativity As A Business Resource

As a kid, when you start off at kindergarten, everything you do is creative. You get a piece of paper and you colour it in. You are taught to flow, flow, flow and create the world yourself. As you get older, there’s no longer that freedom. Our education system stops your creativity, and they keep stopping you until you also stop yourself. As adults, we think of it as this separate thing which means art on the wall or a theatre performance.

We’ve done creativity a disservice because it’s become a negative term to describe people who want to play with crayons. But the reality is that creativity is everywhere, from new scientific

breakthroughs to finance and business. You can’t be an entrepreneur and not be creative, because creativity is about solving problems, and as an entrepreneur you have to solve problems the whole time in order to survive. That’s the core of a business.

Yet when it comes to business-funding models, people find it hard to justify allocating budget to something creative like marketing and communication, which you cannot count like you can raw materials. People will worry about raw materials, they’ll worry about signing distribution deals, or about manufacturing. Only once they have dealt with those things does creativity become a priority. But even from the raw material stage, the creative process has started.

Most entrepreneurs make the mistake of thinking that people will buy their product because it is superior. Having a superior product is a great box to tick, but it’s not enough. You also need that second layer that gives people additional reasons to buy it. You have to find the story, because that is how our brains work. We buy into a brand’s story because whatever it is – a soap, a car, a whiskey, a bank – it’s going to represent us somehow.

People love good stories that they can repeat and that they can use to justify their decisions. You need to find out what story to tell them so that they say, “I identify with that person because they use that soap”.

Establish Your Relationship

One of the most important things you and your client can do is to establish the way you want your relationship to go. The way I work with clients is not a master-slave thing. The best clients engage with the agency. They remember why they hired you as the specialist in the field, and understand both their and the agency’s roles. You are open to each other as two partners who are trying to build a brand. Think of it as two parents trying to raise a child. Once you invest in the relationship and focus on having open conversations, you’re going to find the right spaces together and the agency will want to do even more for that brand, because they fall in love with that process.

When the agency says, “Okay. I’ll do what you want”, nobody wants to work like that, because that kind of work is purely transactional.


Set The Tone

Setting the tone usually starts while you are pitching for the business. That’s where we have the conversation about how we work as an agency, how we like to engage with clients, and what works for other brands we partner with (for different reasons, different brands might need different systems). Sometimes the client also shares how they like to work and then you have to change to meet each other. Ultimately, there’s only so many ways that people work.

Encourage Your Clients To Push

I often find that clients and agencies live on two different sides. Agencies are always trying to do the best work for the client, but clients are not always aligned to that because the agency lives on the cutting edge of the creative world while the client lives on the cutting edge of the marketing world. Their world is based on rules and guidelines. It’s safe, standardised, quite conservative. It’s not built for peak performance, but for best

practice. They don’t like to make room for anything different. The thinking is, “If this thing is working at 40% and we are happy with the 40%, I’m not going to try hit 60%, because if I get it wrong I could land at 35.85%, I might lose my job or my bonus.”

Because their environments don’t encourage them to want to push, I find that many clients are not competitive enough with their brands. There’s this big fear of failure, and a missed opportunity in that. I’m not saying that clients should try out wild,

Neo Mashigo (Chief Creative Officer, M&C Saatchi Group South Africa), Makosha Maja-Rasethaba (Partner: Head of Strategy, M&C Saatchi Abel Johannesburg) & Faheem Chaudhry (Managing Director, M&C Saatchi Abel Johannesburg)

irresponsible ideas, but they should be pushing themselves and the brand more to own more of the market. That’s not going to happen if you’re doing the same thing that everyone else is, because –with the same training, methodologies and media companies – the results will be the same. You’re all just going to inch along next to each other instead of getting ahead.

Clients need to step out of their own world a bit and take advice from their specialist creative partners. We work with different clients and in different scenarios, all speaking to the same consumers. We have seen what works and what doesn’t, what is working now and what the latest trends are. We’re aligned with the client on the data, but when it comes to the small textural stuff, I think we understand the consumer more. The best clients are those who are determined to make a difference, to move beyond the marketing textbook, to allow their brand to stand out.

See Data As A Tool

Not A Rule

Data is a springboard that takes your creative idea to a much better place. Your idea should be informed by data, but it’s not there to stop the creativity. Sometimes data is used to not allow things to happen.

A perfect case study for this is the story behind the famous South African Coca-Cola advert, where the creative idea was to follow a dog called Bobby around as he goes looking everywhere – people’s houses, shops, parties – to find a can with his name on it. The data said, “Black people don’t want dogs around their food, dogs don’t come into houses,” etc., etc. So the agency brings


a script to a black marketer, Khaya Dlanga, who listens to it and thinks it’s amazing. But the problem he has is that he’s got this rule book that’s saying, “No dogs!” Khaya’s like, “No man, it’s not about hating dogs. It’s about how the dog engages in the story. I’m not going to share my plate with the dog or kiss the dog. It’s a lovely dog, it has a character, and the story is about this dog looking for his Coke, engaging with people.” He argued with Coca-Cola’s global team and eventually they agreed to make the ad, because despite the data and research findings, there was nuance to the story.

That ad became the most successful ad ever in the country among black people, white people, everybody. Nobody questioned the dog. Nobody complained about all the fears that came up in the research. Where usually South Africa gets handed down the American

or global versions of an ad, this ad went on to be bought by 90 other countries. It flipped the script like that.

Data should give you the critical information that you need to make the right, informed decisions, but not blind you into making blanket statements. You need to sift through data to get the actual truth. I guess it’s a tool, not a rule. Use it, but don’t let it stop you.

Secure Who Signs Off

The best formula is when the main decision maker is available and present in conversations. It makes work faster and better, and it makes the relationship stronger. You don’t want to have to go through three layers of approval with everybody adding their own taste, only to get to the final person who then tells you that you should have done it the way you presented it the first time.


Speak Up, Don’t Shaddup

Whether you are with the client or the agency, if you feel strongly about something, make your case. I don’t just bomb work. Sometimes, I don’t have the answer, but I share instinctively what I think even if I am not sure. I want to know what others think. I’m interrogating this decision with other people in the room because there’s something niggling or “wrong” about the work. That’s why I want others to poke holes in it too. It’s also to see if I can defend the work or if there really is something to that thing that’s been bothering me in the back of my mind. I never understand people who are not open to criticism and engagement. I don’t know everything. If I criticise something, it’s not a personal attack. I’m hoping that the people around me are here to help me not to just listen to me, because that’s pointless.

brand.” I think humour is one of the most powerful weapons for creativity. People will recite lines from comedies years and years after they ran. Funny stuff sticks in your brain. If a brand makes you laugh, it might make your day and you’re most likely to remember it. It’s a beautiful break from the rest of your life.

particular group. We became a hypersensitive nation.

Take for example the issue of creative that features dancing, laughing black people. I don’t like dancing, laughing black people in ads, but that does not mean all ads with dancing, laughing black people are bad. It’s about how it’s done – the context of the dancing, the context of the laughing. If it’s part of the story, then it can be a great idea. But if it’s just dancing and laughing for dancing and laughing’s sake, then it’s wrong.


Humour Is A Weapon For Creativity.

Use It Wisely

Humour is often taken as something that is not serious. And most brands like to take themselves seriously. Car brands or banks, for example, need to be masculine and bold so their outlook is, “This is not a joke. We are a serious

The problem is, most South African brands struggle with how to define their humour. I think it comes from the days of Leon Schuster-like slapstick humour, which did a lot of damage. So people shy away from that. For most humour to stand out and work well, it should be laughing at someone, but we live in a territory now of people getting offended. Brands are scared that they’re going to offend unless, like Nando’s, you set out as a brand that lampoons anyone.

I think the “scared to offend anyone” thing comes from South Africa’s rainbow nation period. We moved from a time where there was separation, unfairness and inequality, and then once we went into democracy everything was opened up and everyone was afraid to isolate anyone or offend one

The mistake we make is to colour everything with one paint brush to the point where you can’t even sell the good ads with dancing and laughing black people, because the client sees it and says, “My God, what? They’re dancing! You want to get me into shit?”

One person makes a mistake and then we create an unwritten rule that we are never going do this thing again. And that’s where creativity suffers. Dancing, singing and laughing is a big part of black culture, but whether it’s a funeral or a birthday, there’s a reason why it’s done. You can’t just throw it at anything.

Manage Expectations

A bunch of adults making bad decisions just to satisfy some arbitrary time pressure – sound familiar? Deadlines are necessary, but sometimes you need more time to find the right solution. I’ve seen it happen where you are put


under pressure, so you kill yourself working through the night to deliver. The next morning you present to the person who insisted it had to be in and you can tell that they’ve already moved on from it. You get the, “Thank you. Oh, it’s amazing. Wow. We’re going to get back to you,” response. Two weeks later, they still haven’t come back to you. All that panicking was unnecessary. I’m now able to tell what’s important and what’s not important in those situations. Why do they need to sign it off tomorrow, on a Friday? Friday is basically weekend. They’re probably not even going to look at it until Monday or Wednesday next week. Now my response to those sorts of situations is to call the client and tell them that we can’t deliver it on Friday, because it’s not done. We’ll deliver on Tuesday, and I give all the reasons why. The important thing is that when you do deliver on Tuesday, it has to be good. That’s your commitment.

Ask for the time, be honest about where the work is. If you are honest and confident about the solution, the client will know it and the conversation becomes easier. The relationship moves away from “This is my client who can potentially fire me” to “This is my partner for whom I want the best.” On their side, that trust grows too as they know that you are trying to do the best for them.

Clients appreciate a partner who will tell them the truth and be a couple of days late, compared to those who will lie to them to be punctual and the work is not where it should be. By being honest it tells the client that you respect them and you take them seriously.

“Funny stuff sticks in your brain. If a brand makes you laugh, it might make your day and you’re most likely to remember it.” From predicting that the Guptas would run away with their loot, to poking fun at South Africa’s unique medley of problems with a satirical board game, as brands go Nando’s and the work they have done with Neo and his team, speaks to our deep human need to laugh at ourselves.


Don’t Threaten Creatives

I used to tell client services that the worst thing you can do to creatives is to threaten them with what the client said. Once you threaten them, their brains get worried and they go into panic mode. Fifty per cent of the effort that could have been applied to the solution is now dedicated to imposter syndrome and spent worrying about how important the job is, how angry the client is, how we are going to get fired, and how “Their father was right that they would never amount to anything.” It’s not helping solve the brief.

Trust Your Skills

In 22 years in the industry, I don’t remember ever failing to come up with an idea or a solution. Whether as an individual or an agency, one thing that is clear is that you will get to an answer. Yet creatives spend a lot of time worrying about not cracking it. To get the job done, you need to remove the worry and focus on the solve. This is not an emergency room and you are not a doctor making life and death decisions with multiple injured patients from a bus crash. You’re just doing your job. Find a way to put the pressure into perspective. Once you are relaxed, the answers are easier.

Watch Good Work

People go, “Ah, I’m not inspired.”

The rule in advertising is that inspiration is for amateurs. You don’t wait for inspiration, you go hunt it down. When you go deep into things, that’s where you find the excitement and the inspiration. If you are feeling stuck on, say, a car brand, the thing to do is to move away from car advertising and look at exceptional work for food, banking, or something else. As you see how other people have approached and solved advertising problems, your brain lights up to the process at play.

Once you stop and go back to your actual brief, you’re no longer stuck. Your brain is happy and excited. That’s the power of watching good work, it inspires something internally.

Brainstorming: Feel The Flow And Ride It

First you need to get your first base ideas, which will help you get to the solve. They’ll be as straight as possible, but that allows you to write your messaging properly and have clarity about what you want to communicate. Once you have that foundation off your plate, your brain is not going to play in that space anymore. That block is removed. Now you are open to new territories.


The Nando’s 2018 ‘Right My Name’ campaign that Neo worked on identified how in South Africa technology identifies non-Anglo-Saxon names as ‘wrong’. The solution? To update software companies’ dictionaries. The campaign cost very little and with over 53 million total impressions, over 70 000 names submitted and a ton of mainstream media coverage too, it was a massive success, because it was both incredibly simple and because so many people could identify with it.


Now you start your search, looking to land on different angles. That’s how brainstorming works.

Maybe I’ll say, “You know what? I think that there’s something sweet about lemons. How can we express that sweetness?” You then go, “Oh my God! You know when X happens?” You explain it and then as you’re explaining it, I can already see what you’re about to tell me. I come up with a line and you automatically improve the line. We’re all getting excited around this thing. You are nailing it.

Now you’ve got your idea, the next phase is to see how easily other ideas come from that idea. If you are stuck, it doesn’t work, so you get the bad ones out of the way. The flow should be easy. If you are flowing, and you can see that your idea can be done in a certain way for outdoor advertising and another way for radio, then you know that it’s a big idea that can spread anywhere.

Just as you know when something is wrong, you feel it when you are on the right track with a solution. You hit a space where it feels so right and so simple so quickly. Then you need to ask if it has been done before, because it feels so obvious to you, you question it. You check it by taking it to other teams.

Small Budget?

Make Sure People Talk About Your Ads

Nando’s is the perfect example of a brand that always punches above its weight. When they were launching, they did not have a big marketing budget, but what they did was allow the agencies creative licence to make sure that the brand was talked about.


They spent less money than their competitors like KFC, but got the most attention. Especially in their launch phase they were doing ads that had never before been seen in the country. It wasn’t just about being controversial, it was about communication. The sort of communication where a brand was saying the things that people say. It was completely different.

Some of their ads are controversial –the guide dog walking the blind woman into a pole, or the Guptas running away from Saxonwold with their loot – but the controversy itself makes the news and gets spread by the media.

That’s strategic. If you are launching an ad that you know is going to receive complaints and get taken down, then you don’t even buy the full media space. You plan it around a long weekend, because it’s going to be pulled. You launch it on the Thursday. People are going to see it on Thursday and Friday and talk about it on Saturday and Sunday, but it cannot be pulled for that whole weekend.

By the time someone launches a complaint on Monday or Tuesday, you’ve already made your point and people are talking about your brand.

Nando’s were brave in that they weren’t afraid to have political conversations, which is something every ordinary South African is doing. That is how a brand can harness creativity to catapult itself into a leading position. Nando’s became that brand.

You clearly define the brand on its personality and it stands out. If Nando’s were just going to be normal and say, “Our chicken is spicy and flame-grilled”, there’s no way it would have the same impact because you wouldn’t get the personality of the brand or be able to identify with what the brand stands for. Now people want to go try their food, because it looks good, they flame grill the chicken, the restaurants look amazing. Nando’s brought in a completely new flavour, from branding, to packaging, positioning and communication. Everything is done in a way that allows them to stand out and for people to remember the brand.

Fashion 76


I remember watching The Bold and the Beautiful as a child and being fascinated by how lavish the soap opera made the fashion industry look. It was larger than life and beyond anything I’d ever seen growing up in a small town in the Eastern Cape. I guess that was part of the allure – I was so far removed from the fashion industry that it made me want to be part of it from a young age, but at the same time fashion was always in my DNA. My mother taught me how to coordinate outfits and look my best every time I left the house – most black mothers do, as it’s a representation of the kind of home you come from. At my father’s funeral, people commented on his great sense of style. In a weird but logical way, it’s kismet that I ended up writing for places like GQ, Woolworths and Superbalist.

But that time came and it went. I realised that fashion was so much more than fabulous dresses, meticulously tailored suits and mingling over MCC at Fashion Week. As much as I spent parts of my childhood sketching dresses and imitating the Forrester and Spectra families, there was also something inaccessible about the fashion industry. It turns out the link that I was missing was the entrepreneurship one. I just didn’t have it in me. This is why I admire businesspeople so much – I have no clue what they do when it comes to numbers and operational thinking, but they look like they know what they’re doing.

Some of Mzansi’s most successful entrepreneurs spill the tea on turning fashion from a passion into a livelihood.

When this story came along and I was tasked with interviewing some of Mzansi’s most successful designers on not only fashion but the business side of things, I was elated. For the first time in my career, I got to combine my love for the art of fashion with my cluelessness (read: curiosity) about the world of finance and business.

A 2020 study conducted by the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition found that the clothing and textile industry contributed R1 billion to South Africa’s GDP. The industry provides employment and opportunities for upskilling workers –some fashion houses and ateliers have up to six employees each. So, it’s safe to assume that someone can do the most with their own clothing label. Yet that isn’t the general case – I have a younger cousin who’s a first-year fashion design student and his biggest concern is how he’ll build a sustainable career for himself once he graduates. Many who’ve tried have been swept up and spat out by the wave of fast fashion competing with their product, and the few who have succeeded don’t really share their trade secrets unless it’s among themselves. Until now.

I spoke to designers Neo Serati Mofammere, the man behind the brand Nao Serati – a staple at South African Menswear Week – along with Daniel Sher of Good Good Good and Duck Duck Goose, the Cape Town store, and Palesa Mokubung, founder of Mantsho and the first African designer to collaborate with H&M about their journeys and what makes their businesses tick, but most importantly, I tried to get pearls of wisdom as well as very practical advice for anyone thinking about venturing into the fashion and retail industry.

Neo Serati Mofammere Founder of

Nao Serati

“Fashion is a $1.5 trillion industry across the world, so that was enough to convince me that I’d be able to make a living off of it,” says Neo. His label, Nao Serati, was founded in 2014 and is well-known for its boundary-pushing, forward-thinking take on traditionally masculine clothing. He’s been a fixture at SA Menswear Week since its inception in 2016, and for his AW19 collection, he collaborated with adidas Originals on P.O.D S3.1, which featured bright, luminous pieces in silhouettes that teetered on the now blurred line between what’s considered masculine and feminine.

Neo studied art in high school and when it came to choosing a career path, he wanted to study something creative where he could use the skills he’d acquired. His journey officially began, though, when he worked as a stylist right out of LISOF (now STADIO Higher Education), which cemented his love for fashion and convinced him that he could make a living out of it. He didn’t rely on just anyone’s advice for the business side of things – he learnt from his family, who led by example, and other young businesses around him.

He’s the one running things – a task he gladly takes on for something way bigger than just himself. “Right now it’s all me, which can be a challenge. I run the books, I answer the emails, I design the collection, manage the production and I steer the direction of the business and the image of the brand,” he says. “It’s the work of a big team done by just me and lots of coffee, but I can put my back into it because it’s part of my legacy.” Being a creative person in fashion and running a business can be hard roles to

juggle at times, but Neo says both business and design exist to solve problems, and he has Sage Accounting on his side, too. “I simply try my best to cover my loopholes with creativity and create pieces that fit into people’s lives.”


When it comes to the expenses, Neo is realistic – styling is his Plan B. “I chose to take on styling so that I would be able to relieve my business of the pressure of feeding me and my expensive tastes,” he says. “Everything is currently made-toorder or project-based so we can hire staff on a freelance basis. That allows us to roll with the punches and move things around when difficult times come around,” he says about managing expenses during times of hardship. And for a South African designer, there can be – and usually are – plenty.


I consider him brave for diving straight into creating premium pieces instead of starting small and then scaling up. “With Nao Serati being a namesake brand it’s grown with me as a person and the older I get the more premium my taste becomes. I went in brave with high expectations, and I do my best at maintaining that energy.”

And it shows. But as with most good things in the South African cultural canon, his rise wasn’t documented. That’s one thing he’d change about his journey: “If I could start over I would make sure to document my learnings much, much more. Starting a brand straight out of university is actually crazy because you learn everything publicly and while running. It would have been nice to have the info already so I could have walked and not have had to run constantly.”

78 Fashion
Fashion 80

Daniel Sher Founder of Good Good Good

+ Duck Duck Goose

People say that Cape Town is cliquey and that people aren’t open to collaborating as they are in, let’s say, Joburg. But look at Corner Store – three streetwear brands (Sol-Sol, TWOBOP and Young & Lazy) came together to form a mammoth cultural shift not only in the city but in South African fashion as a whole. Daniel Sher’s retail hotspot Duck Duck Goose on trendy Bree Street takes that level of collaboration and support to the next level, stocking big names like Nao Serati, Wanda Lephoto, Thebe Magugu, Simon and Mary, and Daniel’s own brand, Good Good Good.

The name is the result of something that could only come from true collaboration. “Koos Groenewald, one of the designers of the store’s identity, talked about how he’d been suggesting the Duck Duck Goose name to so many of the restaurants for whom he has created brand identities. At the time, I was looking for a name because I wanted it to be a multi-brand store and not just a Good Good Good flagship store,” he says.. “I loved the sound of the name because it worked with the playful nature that Good Good Good is known for – I mean, Duck Duck Goose is literally a playground game. Koos and Kgabo Mametja brought many metaphorical plays on this name into our visual branding and in-store design. We look at our instore brands, which are independently owned and proudly South African, as our golden ducklings. The golden ‘geese’ are the brands and products that our community chooses to buy.”

On 15 December 2020 the doors to Duck Duck Goose opened and it’s since become a safe space of sorts for the cool kids of Cape Town and lovers of authentic, premium South African fashion,

Fashion 82



Daniel is a qualified chartered accountant and worked as an auditor at EY, so he has plenty of experience with finance. He manages his business with his wife, Paige, who grew up in her mother’s cut, make and trim (CMT) clothing factory. “We sponge up a lot of knowledge, experience and administrative support from Paige’s parents, who have been running their factory for 27 years. I also have various mentors, industry peers and coaches I turn to regularly for guidance and support.”


He’s also honest about the struggle of being a creative and a businessperson:

he says it’s all a balancing act. “It’s hard! I’m still figuring out how to do it well. But I am starting to value being completely idle: to neither be working nor creating. This non-pressured, non-technology-based break gives my mind and heart a break from the hourly chaos of running our manufacturing facility, brands and retail space. It can be something as simple as a 30-minute walk in the park without my phone.” But when he talks about his journey, Daniel wouldn’t change a thing – even the most challenging of times: “I believe that starting a business requires making lots of mistakes to learn, grow and teach others. Doing things differently means I wouldn’t have learnt the lessons I needed to learn to be where I am now.”


Good Good Good was born in October 2016 in collaboration with the Bree Street favourite Max Bagels. Daniel had just slowed down production of his previous T-shirt label,, which he ran as a side hustle while doing his articles. His vision was to create a premium clothing line of basics for men of all sizes, something that’s still at the core of what Good Good Good is. They started small but scaled up when they debuted at SA Menswear Week in February 2017: “We started with a range of basics and moved into more premium pieces when we first showcased at Menswear Week. Making premium pieces has always been a dream of mine,” says Daniel. “We haven’t looked back since our first runway show. It’s been 12 years since I started making T-shirts and it’s still one of the most challenging products to make at a high level of quality.”


To manage finances during hard times, Daniel gets aggressive – which has kept Duck Duck Goose going since its opening. “I go on aggressive sales ventures to secure more work for my factory, and sell more products from my brands, in order to cover expenses during tight months.” It’s reassuring to know that even someone at his level, armed with some of Mzansi’s most wanted and bestselling designers, faces difficult times. But he’s organised too: he uses an online accounting package for the financial reporting and Microsoft Excel to manage accounts and internal business metrics. Now would be a good time to brush up on those Excel formulae we had to learn in high school.


Palesa Mokubung

Founder of Mantsho

Palesa Mokubung is one of South Africa’s most celebrated fashion designers. Her label, Mantsho, has soared to new heights since her collaboration with retail giant H&M in 2020. Although it came a year after the extremely – and rightly so – controversial “Coolest monkey in the jungle” hoodie debacle, this team-up seemed sincere and resulted in gorgeous pieces. H&M is known for their affordable clothing but have also collaborated with high fashion labels like Balmain, Alexander Wang, Kenzo and Moschino. But what made Mantsho stand out? Palesa is vague but straightforward in her response: “I was headhunted.” And that was enough to cement her as an African fashion powerhouse.


Palesa realised she was able to make a living from fashion when she was supplying retailers like Burgundy Fly, Spree and Zando circa 2010. “I was able to put myself through school and complete my degree, all while supplying these stores,” she says. Along the way, she met Lucilla Booyzen, founder and director of SA Fashion Week, who became her mentor. “I met her through their business programme for young designers and I’ve maintained that relationship since then.”

She’s also the one running the show at Mantsho. “It’s all me and of course it hasn’t always been easy. I’m passionate about my business and would never give up the day-to-day running of it,” says Palesa. So how does she manage things during tough financial times? Her answer is what most of us wish we could

achieve. “Let’s just say I am careful with money and I’ve learnt how to have a good relationship with it.”


When it comes to running the business, she makes use of as many apps and as much of technology as possible. She uses Wordpress for her online store as well as Canva and Adobe Illustrator for marketing assets, artwork, and prints. Mantsho does most of their promotion on Instagram. Palesa balances being a creative and a businessperson thanks to her parents. Her father is a creative and her mother is all about numbers. “I’m a product of that – I draw balance and strength from both my parents.”

Naturally, as every designer at her level would, she challenges herself and her approach to her business has changed.

“I now demand more for myself and the brand,” she says. “I’ve settled into position as Africa’s leading designer, as a businessperson and as a role model.” Yet with that much confidence in her artistry, she wouldn’t change anything about her journey. “I’m running a good race with my business and it’s a true reflection of my journey. I am content with it and have big plans.”

There you have it – three of South Africa’s most successful designers on making themselves known and present and most importantly, relevant in an industry that’s infamous for fleeting trends. Cousin, I hope you read this, and I hope that you’ve been able to not only draw nuggets of wisdom but pick up a tip or three on how to build a sustainable business as a fashion designer. I look forward to seeing your work on the runway.

84 Fashion
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How the entrepreneurial savvy behind Nando’s is helping solve one of the world’s greatest public health problems.

Goodbye Malaria

Consider the mosquito.

For most of us they’re an irritation. A whining in the night, some interrupted sleep and an itchy bite in the morning, but by and large that’s it. If, however, you happen to live in parts of Limpopo, Mpumalanga, north-eastern KwaZulu-Natal, in Mozambique or other hotspots across sub-Saharan Africa, then a mosquito means a lot more. That’s because mosquitoes in these areas can carry the malaria parasite. Malaria means sickness, death, absenteeism, and a massive impact on a country’s economy.

Unlike Covid-19, malaria is not a new disease. Humans have been grappling with it for centuries. But these days it’s only a problem in a few parts of the world – specifically in low-income countries. Highly developed countries like Italy and the USA used to be plagued by malaria, but after concentrated spraying of the synthetic insecticide DDT (di-

chloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane), by the mid-70s, malaria was eradicated from what was then called the “First World”.

Then a (now contested) paper came out that pointed to DDT being both carcinogenic and really toxic for the environment, and the World Health Organisation (WHO) banned further spraying with the pesticide. While nobody wants pesticides that make people sick or poison the environment, the decision only added to global inequality. While politically privileged countries moved into a malaria-free future with all the economic benefits that brought, countries like Mozambique missed out on that opportunity to be free of the disease.

Enter, stage left: Nando’s.

In 2007, Nando’s founder Robert (Robbie) Brozin wanted to visit the brand’s stores across Africa. Instead of flying in and out of the various countries, he decided to do things differently. Robbie had been reading about the

across Africa and felt that an expedition would be a great way to both get to various parts of the continent and to get involved in humanitarian efforts. Off they went.

On their travels with Kingsley the Nando’s team spent their time visiting their stores, seeing the sights of Africa, and doing humanitarian work. This involved handing out insecticide-treated bed nets to the most impacted high-risk malaria groups – pregnant women and families with children under the age of five. The insight that trip gave them about what a plague malaria is on the African continent was the catalyst for Nando’s to launch Goodbye Malaria (GBM), an initiative that aims to eradicate malaria in Africa.

Today, roughly 15 years later, GBM is closing in on the ultimate global goal of #zeromalaria.

This is how they got here.

explorer Kingsley Holgate’s exploits
GBM CEO Sherwin Charles, with Nando’s founder Robbie Brozin, explorer Kingsley Holgate and GBM co-founder Kim Lazarus


What does a chicken restaurant chain know about fighting diseases? It’s a question many in the malaria/NGO world asked about ten years ago when Nando’s first got formally involved. The answer today is that GBM knows a lot about malaria. By facilitating public-private partnerships, bringing together the private sector, governments and funders, and harnessing the very entrepreneurial spirit that saw Nando’s shoot the lights out in the quarter-peri-perichicken-and-chips game, GBM’s had a massive impact on public health in the regions they work in.

impact? And how can we measure the impact we make?’ We set out to make a difference in the lives of people who will never know us, and we were not doing it to sell another quarter chicken and chips.”

While the restaurant game and the NGO sector may be vastly different at face value, from logistics, to accounting, branding and resilience, GBM found



Once they committed to dealing with malaria in Southern Africa, Robbie, Sherwin and the team delved deep into understanding how the world of malaria works. What they did find came out of places like New York, Washington and Geneva, where global organisations like the WHO are head-quartered and where policies are formulated. From their experience in business, they knew that if they were to be successful, this had to change. The solutions had to be local.

As with any audacious dream, it all started with intent. Seeing first-hand the impact malaria was having on the continent had a profound impact on the Nando’s team. Corporate social investment initiatives where big brands throw money at a problem without actually getting to grips with it are a dime a dozen. In starting GBM, Nando’s had no interest in doing that. Nor were they in it to sell chicken.

GBM CEO Sherwin Charles says, “An entrepreneur wants to find a solution to the problem. After that expedition, Robbie’s instinct was to ask, ‘It’s great to feel good having travelled with Kingsley, but how do we really make an

plenty of overlap. With Nando’s in their DNA, there was no reason for GBM to stray from the business principles that had served the parent brand so well in the past.

Sherwin explains, “We built GBM on three critical values that align with those of Nando’s. The first is care. In the public health arena, care has to be a core value. Second, when you’re dealing with donor money you have to have integrity. Third, if you are working in Africa, you must have true grit. That means a higher level of determination, where ‘no’ is one answer, not a deterrent. And, in the Nando’s way, it’s not just about partnerships, but about long-term relationships. You don’t go wide, you go deep. That was critical for us.”

Sherwin says, “The first thing we realised is that the solutions to sub-Saharan Africa were coming out of these centres. We felt that if [in Nando’s] we had taken a business to the world, why couldn’t we use our business principles and entrepreneurship to tackle a public health challenge in Southern Africa? It was time to be counted and to make a world of difference. That’s where Goodbye Malaria was born.”

Good intentions are all well and fine, but they have to be backed by actions in order to make an impact. GBM discovered that there had already been a coordinated indoor residual spraying (IRS) malaria campaign across the MOSASWA (Mozambique, South Africa, and Eswatini) region and what’s more, it had

88 Goodbye Malaria
Goodbye Malaria 90


been a huge success. IRS involves the application of insecticide to internal walls and ceilings of housing structures where mosquitos that transmit malaria (aka “vectors”) may come into contact with the insecticide. The only reason the campaign failed was due to a lack of donor money, so GBM immediately set about re-establishing a public-private partnership between the three governments.

Sherwin says, “We looked at this earlier campaign and said, ‘If it was a roaring success, why should it fail just because donor money has stopped? Let’s re-think the plan.’”

Finding money became the major focal point, not just for GBM’s initial short-term goal of kickstarting the lapsed MOSASWA tri-partite campaign,

but also to prove to the larger NGO/ malaria community that they – Nando’s/ GBM – were serious players. That meant putting their own money in and finding more.

“Before that point everybody said, ‘You have to prove yourself.’ That meant finding cash to prove that the concept works. If you don’t have skin in the game it’s tough to be committed. So we put skin in the game, leveraged that money and brought in donor money on top of ours. Then we got started.”

Using their business nous and networks, GBM got industrial giant BHP Billiton to contribute money too and, with vehicles donated by Chana, in 2013 they set to work in one district, Boane, in Maputo province.

A Disease Of The Poor

For people in malaria-plagued countries, being sick becomes a way of life. Malaria season comes and goes, people get malaria, people die, and the cycle repeats itself. It’s tragic on an individual level, but equally so on a familial, societal, and economic level because it’s self-perpetuating. If people are constantly sick, absenteeism is incredibly high, making it harder than ever to fight poverty.

Take for example an industry like tourism. Malaria not only keeps locals sick, but it also keeps visitors away. Today, it’s difficult to comprehend that parts of the Mediterranean and the southern United States were once seen the same way –as high-risk malaria areas. If they could get free of malaria, so can Southern Africa with interventions like the ones GBM has implemented.

The Stats On Sickness

• Malaria is estimated to cost Africa $12 billion every year.

• In some areas, malaria accounts for 15% of health-related absenteeism from school. It is estimated that in endemic areas, malaria may impair as much as 60% of the schoolchildren’s learning ability.

• Overall, households in Africa lose up to 25% of income to the disease.

• Leading economists estimate that malaria causes an “economic growth penalty” of up to 1.3% per year in malaria-endemic African countries. Malaria discourages investments and tourism, affects land use patterns and crop selection resulting in sub-optimal agricultural production, reduces labour productivity, and impairs learning.

• Malaria can strain national economies, impacting some nations’ gross domestic product by as much as an estimated 5-6%.


Goodbye Malaria

In that first year of operation, they protected 100 000 people from malaria. In the most recent malaria season, they protected 15% of Mozambique’s population, approximately 3.5 million people.


The work GBM does in malaria-struck areas is focused on vector control through IRS. The insecticides they spray with today are as, if not more, efficient and effective as DDT ever was.

Sherwin says, “The WHO decided that Africa would be left out and we still feel that inequity when it comes to our con-

tinent. The funny thing about the whole DDT saga is that if that paper were written today, it would be shot down for the lack of data and science behind the sensationalism. The great thing about DDT was that it lasted 12 months. Every other insecticide had a three- to four-month efficacy, so you had to spray twice a year. With new additives and technology nowadays, we are back to eight to nine months’ insecticide efficacy.”

While DDT was a big driver in killing mosquitoes and controlling malaria, Sherwin points to the improvements made on houses within low-income countries as one of the biggest factors in getting to zero. “You suddenly had windows, shutters, aluminium sidings, and air conditioning that stopped mos-

quitoes from entering the home. If they can’t get in, they can’t bite you. For us to get to zero, we need economic development and the improvement of houses.”

This is where the spraying programme is having an impact beyond the insecticide itself. Adhering to their belief that you need local solutions for local challenges, GBM recruited the best people who had worked on the first successful campaign. By the last malaria season, they had a staff compliment of 3 000.

Sherwin says, “We hire staff from the community to work in those communities. That’s critical to the success and sustainability of the programme. More than 60% of our staff are female and they are growing their families, getting homes, making commercial invest-



bringing success is being able to build in-country capacity and that’s very, very important.”



ments, upgrading their living environments, simply because of having a job. At one time Mozambique was the second poorest country in the world. We’re seeing economic development in the communities in which we work.”


Despite the eternal struggle for funding, the NGO space is one that’s aflush with money, which means it’s open to abuse. GBM knew that in order to attract donors and for the programme to be a success, they had to be beyond reproach. That’s why they worked with The Global

Fund, an international financing and partnership organisation designed to end global epidemics like HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria. The Global Fund ensures the correct governance, measurement, and programmatic implementation.

GBM played by The Global Fund’s rules and have even exceeded them.

Sherwin says, “The NGO environment is a tricky space. The Global Fund insists on good governance. For us it really is about taking pure business principles – having the right CFO, the right CEO, the right structures, organograms – and putting them in place. On average, our cost of implementation is between 3040% cheaper than anything else seen at The Global Fund in a malaria endemic environment. Part of the donor money

During the Covid pandemic, logistics in particular became incredibly challenging due to lockdowns, yet despite this GBM not only kept all programmes operating, but expanded.

Sherwin says, “Normally we train 3 000 people in a season to do the IRS, but during Covid nobody could come to the training centre because of travel restrictions. If you need to train 3 000 people, but you can’t move them or get them to training centres, what do you do? We were in discussion with one of our Nando’s suppliers, an events company, who builds sets. They were about to close divisions because of the lockdown. We asked them to build mobile training walls that we could put in every community. So instead of having one training centre we now have 50 training centres in each of the districts that we work in, where our spray operators can train 25 people at a time. By innovating this way we managed to start the spray season only a month late. In fact, the solution has been so good, it’s becoming the standard for our IRS training.”


The biggest challenge in getting Mozambique (and thereby Eswatini and South Africa) to zero malaria is resis-


Goodbye Malaria

tance: drug-resistant malaria where the medication is not effective, and insecticide-resistant mosquitoes. The ability of both the parasite and the mosquito to mutate is partially why there has not been an effective vaccine for malaria until very recently and why malaria has been such a difficult disease to control.

The new malaria vaccine is not perfect, but it’s a great weapon in the overall toolbox. Thirty years in the making due to the complexity of the malaria parasite (it has 5 000-odd genes vs the 30 in SARSCoV-2), it’s only for children under five and only reduces hospital admissions for severe malaria by 30%. Part of the problem is that it’s a four-dose vaccine and getting kids to take one does is hard enough. But recent scientific advances, including the development of mRNA platforms for Covid vaccines, mean there is a lot of positivity around a one-dose vaccine and thereby getting to zero.

Sherwin says, “The reality is that you’re never going to get to zero mosquitoes, but what you can do is make sure there are no parasites around. If a mosquito bites me and finds no parasite, it cannot transmit it to you. Our zero-malaria strategy is to deal with both factors. The vaccine is one part of a two-pronged attack, along with vector control through IRS.

“When it comes to burdens of disease, the numbers are 90% down from where they were in the year 2000. We are closer to zero than ever before. When you identify an infection, you make sure the person is diagnosed and treated effectively and timeously, and you test all their neighbours to see who else is infected. A mosquito can’t fly very far, so it infects at close proximity, which means you can effectively control parasitic spread with surveillance as well.”


From the infrastructure they have put in place, to their relationship and collaboration with the three governments, today, no one questions why Nando’s is involved in the malaria world. The impact GBM has had on the communities they work with is becoming more and more apparent both in the hard stats and through feedback from businesses like Standard Bank and Hollard who report that malaria absenteeism has been almost non-existent in the last two years.

Sherwin says, “The consensus from malaria case studies is that for every dollar invested, there’s a $32 return. We’re seeing that impact in all the areas that we work in. Malaria has decreased by more than 75% in the areas we have


been in since we started. We are now looking after the whole of Southern Mozambique – Gaza, Inhambane and Maputo provinces – all the areas that border Swaziland and South Africa. In the last malaria season, we protected 15% of the population of Mozambique. Never in our wildest dreams did we think the number would get to that.”

The challenge lies in finishing the job and getting to zero, because malaria is the type of disease that comes back with a vengeance.

“As you get closer to zero and something starts to feel like it’s not a problem

anymore, people tend to forget about it. They don’t think we need funding. If anything, we need more people to come in and support us now. We have to keep the accelerator flat all the way so that we get there.

Imagine if South Africa could say, “We are a malaria-free country, bring your young kids to come and see the Big 5, there is no risk of malaria in the Kruger Park.” It’s a game changer. We need those communities to believe that malaria does not have to exist. It’s a fully treatable, preventable and curable disease.”


The WHO African Region continues to carry a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden. In 2020 the region was home to 95% of all malaria cases and 96% of deaths. Children under five accounted for about 80% of all malaria deaths in the region.

3 133


Total number of staff on the ground in Mozambique (59% female)

Since 2000, malaria incidence and mortality have declined by 35% and 57% respectively as a result of political will, innovative financing, and new interventions. Africa avoided 1.35 billion malaria cases and 9.7 million malaria deaths over the past two decades.


During GBM’s 2021/2022 integrated malaria vector management campaigns, lives of 3 536 993 people in the MOSASWA region were impacted

. The cost to protect a life with GBM IRS.
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