David White - A single minded and respectful approach

David White's professional career has been driven by a passion for the development of people and especially creating employment through helping people to build their own enterprises. White says that his greatest strength is in his single minded approach to life, which has assisted in his company, DRG Outsourcing, reaching 20 years old in 2016.

Although he has always been "involved in the trenches", White said that his company's success would not be possible without the support of his team of employees. He said, "Everyone has very similar values, genuinely like people, and focus on our clients' needs. Having skilled people who are trusted and caring has helped us to build a company culture that has geared us to arrive where we are today. In addition, they are all empowered to lead rather than follow. If they perceive themselves as leaders and have confidence in their own abilities, they can pass on these traits to our clients. For me it is important to respect and look after my team, so they look after our clients."

A major goal of DRG Outsourcing's service offerings has always been to help companies to do things better. This goal includes developing innovative responses to helping small and medium sized companies meet their operational objectives, as well as meet reporting requirements and comply with relevant legislation.

"In its early years DRG Outsourcing grew very quickly, which was very exciting," said White. "Initially our ideas were ahead of their time. We had to wait for the market to catch up and also had to educate our clients to the advantages of using our services. In addition, there was no support for our industry. We greatly benefitted from the Netherlands PUM Programme that provides a fantastic mentorship service," said White. Through PUM, Loet Schledon, a 73 year old gentleman and seasoned outsourced service provider, visited DRG four times over a four year period to help create their "outsource" service model. (PUM stands for 'Programma Uitzending Managers', which is Dutch for 'Manager Deployment Programme).

This growth resulted in White being named as one of the leading entrepreneurs in South Africa in 2006. The early success of the company also saw DRG Outsourcing listing and then 18 months later, due to the dot.com collapse as well as some other factors, having to delist. White reports that this situation was a major setback and that starting again from scratch was very challenging and a hugely stressful time in his life.

The regrowth of the company saw DRG Outsourcing winning a KZN Top Business Award in the Business and Finances Sector in 2010. White said, "Now being 20 years old in 2016 is great. We have a competent and confident team with well designed systems and processes in place." Under the DRGSiyaya brand label, the company is looking to grow further through the establishment of a country wide system of franchise outlets.

White said, "In addition, through BusinessFit, an enter- prise development entity, my goal is to create employment and help people to access the many opportunities that exist in South Africa. I believe that South Africa could be the entrepreneurial capital of the world."

He said further, "We need more entrepreneurs and the BusinessFit methodology is magnificent in assisting them to move from start-up to a successful, established business. Furthermore, we need to encourage experienced people with business skills to spend time with such entrepreneurs to guide and support their development."

White concluded that South Africa is in real need of an economic leadership team. He said, "I am positive about South Africa and the people of South Africa but we don't always hear from our leaders about avenues already created and how we should access them."

When not working White and his wife, Daisy are to be found enjoying the outdoors either walking their greyhounds, on the beach or in a wilderness area, where he says he feels most alive

Akash Singh - The determination to succeed

Akash Singh - The determination to succeed
Akash Singh:CEO and Co-founder Sigma International (Durban)

AKASH SINGH's success has been driven by 'thinking big" and then having the determination to succeed.

Sigma International was founded fourteen years ago in 2004. The company's journey began when Akash Singh and Christopher J. Naidoo met at university. Their membership of AIESEC, which is the world's largest student-run organisation, provoked a desire to have a positive impact on society. Founded in 1948 and present in over 100 countries and territories and with over 60 000 members, AIESEC provides an international platform for young people to discover and develop their potential as leaders.

The organisation offers young people the opportunity to be global citizens, to be change agents and to get experience and skills that matter. Singh says that the learning and experience at AIESEC have helped mould himself and Naidoo.

Prior to founding Sigma International, Akash was the General Manager: Product at Nedcor (Banking Group) as well as General Manager: Finance at BoE Bank. Prior to banking, he was a Dispute Analysis and Investigations Manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers (Durban) where he had undertaken a series of investigations both in the private and public sector. Akash completed his articles at PricewaterhouseCoopers. He is a registered chartered accountant and has completed his MBA in strategic planning.

Singh's professional career and extensive experience has placed him at the forefront of local and global economic development for businesses. Singh's successes saw him being selected as a Standard Bank Entrepreneur of the Year.

Driven by the desire to do more for people and gives freely of his time, Singh has spent 11 years as a member of the Board of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI). From April 2013 to May 2015 he served as President of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which he says was a highlight of his Chamber experience.

He has also served as a council member of the South African Chambers of Commerce (SACCI) and was the past President at the KwaZulu-Natal Business Chambers Council. Additionally, Singh was the cochair for business at the KwaZulu-Natal Economic Council. Singh is also a City Planning Commissioner for eThekwini Municipality. He has been appointed a Council member representing business for the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) Eastern Region.

In reference to his time spent at the various chambers, Singh said that this was his way of giving back to communities and "having fun in the business world", whilst building a formidable business network. He added that Business Chambers are capitalised by the time entrepreneurs spend in service activities including joining forums or providing skills and knowledge free of charge.

Singh currently runs the South African Sigma International operation, which is unique in that it focuses on empowering and strengthening people and organisations. The level one Broad-Based Black Economic Empowered (B-BBEE) company provides a range of robust services that include business turnarounds, enterprise development and strategic planning. Singh is a responsible and caring leader who has extensive experience in innovation, business strategy, mentoring, coupled with strong commercial skills, particularly with regard to business turnarounds and capital restructuring. He has trained or mentored in excess of 5 000 small, medium and large businesses on various practical subjects.

He cites the ability to convince others to join the responsible leadership journey as a challenge. He truly strives to be different in his approach to managing people. He said, "Sigma International takes its core values very seriously and they are used daily to help guide the decisions and direction of the firm. These core values include teamwork, accountability, entrepreneurial, innovation and continuous improvement, performance, integrity and respect.

"Through our various successes we have written the script to be able to assist business in KwaZulu-Natal (and South Africa). We have a sustainable model and like to look at the impact of our interventions, which must be relevant. Any change implemented must be exciting and not stressful."

He added, "The future of the Sigma International is also built on business incubation and innovation, which allows new opportunities to be explored and actualised."

Our organisation is largely focused on turning around, improving and focusing businesses (and organisations) for sustainable growth. Hence it makes us a very relevant company in exciting times. More and more of our clients and stakeholders are looking beyond the profit line. Sigma International is capitalised with a wide range of specialist's skills to help companies and organisations to look beyond profit."

"In the future we would like to grow our private equity investment portfolio and continue to stay locally relevant and globally competitive," concluded Singh. In his free time Singh enjoys relaxing by gardening and fishing - for the one that he thinks is big!

David White - A single minded and respectful approach

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David White's professional career has been driven by a passion for the development of people and especially creating employment through helping people to build their own enterprises. White says that his greatest strength is in his single minded approach to life, which has assisted in his company, DRG Outsourcing, reaching 20 years old in 2016.

Although he has always been "involved in the trenches", White said that his company's success would not be possible without the support of his team of employees. He said, "Everyone has very similar values, genuinely like people, and focus on our clients' needs. Having skilled people who are trusted and caring has helped us to build a company culture that has geared us to arrive where we are today. In addition, they are all empowered to lead rather than follow. If they perceive themselves as leaders and have confidence in their own abilities, they can pass on these traits to our clients. For me it is important to respect and look after my team, so they look after our clients."

A major goal of DRG Outsourcing's service offerings has always been to help companies to do things better. This goal includes developing innovative responses to helping small and medium sized companies meet their operational objectives, as well as meet reporting requirements and comply with relevant legislation.

"In its early years DRG Outsourcing grew very quickly, which was very exciting," said White. "Initially our ideas were ahead of their time. We had to wait for the market to catch up and also had to educate our clients to the advantages of using our services. In addition, there was no support for our industry. We greatly benefitted from the Netherlands PUM Programme that provides a fantastic mentorship service," said White. Through PUM, Loet Schledon, a 73 year old gentleman and seasoned outsourced service provider, visited DRG four times over a four year period to help create their "outsource" service model. (PUM stands for 'Programma Uitzending Managers', which is Dutch for 'Manager Deployment Programme).

This growth resulted in White being named as one of the leading entrepreneurs in South Africa in 2006. The early success of the company also saw DRG Outsourcing listing and then 18 months later, due to the dot.com collapse as well as some other factors, having to delist. White reports that this situation was a major setback and that starting again from scratch was very challenging and a hugely stressful time in his life.

The regrowth of the company saw DRG Outsourcing winning a KZN Top Business Award in the Business and Finances Sector in 2010. White said, "Now being 20 years old in 2016 is great. We have a competent and confident team with well designed systems and processes in place." Under the DRGSiyaya brand label, the company is looking to grow further through the establishment of a country wide system of franchise outlets.

White said, "In addition, through BusinessFit, an enter- prise development entity, my goal is to create employment and help people to access the many opportunities that exist in South Africa. I believe that South Africa could be the entrepreneurial capital of the world."

He said further, "We need more entrepreneurs and the BusinessFit methodology is magnificent in assisting them to move from start-up to a successful, established business. Furthermore, we need to encourage experienced people with business skills to spend time with such entrepreneurs to guide and support their development."

White concluded that South Africa is in real need of an economic leadership team. He said, "I am positive about South Africa and the people of South Africa but we don't always hear from our leaders about avenues already created and how we should access them."

When not working White and his wife, Daisy are to be found enjoying the outdoors either walking their greyhounds, on the beach or in a wilderness area, where he says he feels most alive

Akash Singh

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