Business trail-blazer Matimba Masinga
Though many of us won’t admit it, our families are the biggest influencers of our values, Matimba is an example of such.
I was born and bred in Soweto to very hard working and diligent parents, with 8 kids, and I’m the second last of the children. Growing up in Soweto was one of my biggest blessings second to having my parents, Soweto taught me how to be street smart and my parents taught me how to work hard and to love education and learning at the same time. I grew up in an era where we were the 1st kids to attend multi-racial schools, which meant that we were confronted with the reality of both poverty and wealth from our white and Indians school mates we attended school with. And that was confusing at times; I asked myself a lot of questions about classism, race and my relationship with the world generally.
When I was young I thought I’d be a political activist or lawyer, I started working in my dad’s family business from as long as I could remember and I started my career as an accountant for government for about 7 years, But I spent the major part of my life working in my dad’s furniture manufacturing and Demolishing business and this is where I developed my love and passion for property.
The business, Mistakes, Inspiration and Lessons
My parents are business people, I tried to run away from this calling but eventually it caught up with me. My dad especially is my biggest inspiration, I call him the REAL BLACK INDUSTRIALIST (Self-funded, and no sponsor) because he was and still is to a large extent, he started a business that employed over 50 people in its prime and has taken many kids to school and university.
This has inspired me to get into business , I’ve had many businesses and I’ve failed at most of them, my 1st business was selling imported chocolate in high school, and since then I’ve sold almost everything from Airtime and women’s underwear while in varsity. I’ve even owned a restaurant at some point in my life.
The failures of my previous businesses have taught me to be consistent and to give every task my best effort, no matter how small or big. Take nothing for granted and appreciate every lesson and interaction. Good or bad, and most importantly treat the customer and employees like boss.
When starting out in the property business I faced lots of challenges for which the biggest challenge was gatekeeping and lack of access to the market within the industry. The reality is that the property industry is still extremely white in fact the whole economy is still white but in the property space you see it up close. Our white counterparts will refuse to let us in and to make it worse government doesn’t have a clue what is happening , as a young black man, proving myself is not enough, I have to outperform and outdoor everyone around me.
Access to market is a challenge but financing a startup is a nightmare, so for my other businesses I have used the property business as the foundation for all other businesses, I realized at a very young age the importance of property, Leveraging and gearing are just same of the words I’ve had to put to action.
I have also made mistakes and have learned from them, one of the mistakes was over capitalizing, putting in more money than I should have in a business rather than letting it grow organically and surrounding myself with the wrong people who don’t have my best interest and that of my business at heart. I wish I knew the importance of surrounding myself with the right people and knowing when to say NO!
I also had to make the decision of getting a business partner, someone strong and smarter than me, I like surrounding myself with people who are smarter than me, braver and with the same drive as me. I also looked at the amount of value that person will bring not only to the business but to my own personal brand equity, they don’t have to always agree with me but our vision must be in sync.
I’m a pro-active leader, I make it my mission to really get to know the people I work with, not just at face value, but really understand what makes them tick, that way I get to dig deeper and motivate them. My job as a leader is to assemble a team that I trust and believe will buy into our vision.
The State of business in South Africa
I think all government departments tasked with the very important task of supporting small businesses know nothing about entrepreneurs, from the minister at the top to the last official at the bottom, they know absolutely nothing about the struggles we go through or they simply don’t care. And this is the biggest tragedy about our country.
As for someone who wants to get into business start early starts small. And don’t try and reinvent the wheel, there are many people one can learn from, who have made the same mistakes you’re about to make and paid their school fees in business, don’t have pride try and learn from them.
3min with Matimba
What is your favorite meal? Salmon with baked veggies
- 2. Which book are you currently reading? I just finished reading Phil Night’s Shoe dog, the founder of NIKE and I’ve started with Jim Collens “From good to great”
- 3. What is your life theme song? Sade, Love is stronger than Pride!
- What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
Firstly I thank God and whoever else is in charge of my life for giving me yet another day to live and make a difference. And then I reflect on the day ahead and what needs to be done, I go to gym and then hit that road in the order.
- What does time mean to you? Time means the ability to execute and fully respond to my calling and for me that is the biggest blessing ever, I take nothing for granted, and no one. I try to maximize every minute I have in a day. I think really had about how I execute my game plan. But when the times come for me to relax I do it really well as well.