CALVIN MATHIBELI is the founder of Calvin and Family Group (CFG) and has been in business for 12 years.
Mathibeli's working career started while he was still a student at the Durban Institute of Technology, then Durban University of Technology.
In order to fund his studies and provide an income for his accommodation and living costs, Mathibeli spent his days as a student and the evenings as a businessman selling cell phone accessories at The Wheel in Mahatma Gandhi Road, Durban, after identifying a market demand in the evenings.
He said, "I had to walk from Durban south beach to the Tech every day and I saw an opportunity to service the needs of tourists in the area who often required cell phone repairs or accessories such as charges, batteries, covers, etc. after the main shops had closed."
Mathibeli decided to gamble with the R500 savings that he had to buy stock and persuaded a store-owner to give him a small space to set up shop. He said, "Life is about choice. I had to choose, whether to give up my studies or soldier on."
Juggling being a student and a running a business was not without difficulty. "I had to divide myself, which was a real a challenge. I did very well in my studies and coped because I realised I needed to ask questions in class. I had to make sure that I clearly understood what we were learning so that I could work in the evenings. I always say success is a choice, it is not about luck, it is about the effort, dedication and the hard work that you put in."
The impetus for Mathibeli's business career took place after one of his cell phone repair customers, impressed by his initiative, offered to mentor him in township property development.
"With the little money I had saved I started to buy and sell land in the township areas. After I acquired enough capital, I started to buy and then develop the land prior to selling," said Mathibeli.
During this time Mathibeli invested all his profits back into his business and was operating out of the boot of his car as well as from spaza shops. He opened his first office in 2008 and his business has continued to grow and he has never looked back. Currently, 70% of his clientele consist of middle income private developers and 30% government contracts. The company is now registered with the Construction Industry Development Board (CIBD) and has level seven registrations for civil engineering and general building, complying with all construction regulations.
However, Mathibeli said that he noticed that when looking at successful people one of the things that inspired him was that they all had multiple streams of income in common.
Consequently, Calvin and Family Group has diversified into a number of industries, including, security services, engineering consulting, project management, branding, printing and marketing -- Black Pride Media, and SA Precast. The latest addition is Unique Lifestyle CafÃ© - an upmarket restaurant located in Umhlanga, KwaZulu-Natal.
This business success has resulted in Mathibeli and the Calvin and Family Group receiving many accolades. Recent awards include:
The Oliver Top Empowerment Awards 2017:
Top Empowered Entrepreneur of 2017 Award and Fastest Growing Black Owned Company
2017 Vision 2030 SMME Awards
National Entrepreneur Champion Awards
Impumelelo Top Empowered Companies,
Certificate of Excellence
Forbes 2017 list of the 30 Most promising Young African Entrepreneurs
Mathibeli's success has also seen him take on other entrepreneurs and he has assisted them to establish and grow their businesses. He says, "I think mentoring is my passion, I love to empower people and I am proud to say that although I am young, only 30, I have made some multi-millionaires."
"I look for people who have vision. Many young people have brilliant ideas but are hampered by red tape, have no funding and have no surety. I provide funding in return for shares in their businesses, which allows them to establish going concerns over which they have direct control.
However, he says, mentorship is necessary if you want people to succeed. Some people have a passion for business but do not have management skills or selfdiscipline. They want to buy a Ferrari but do not understand the hardships that have preceded owning one."
A further passion is socio and economic empowerment. "My vision is that in five years we will create 5000 jobs," says Mathibeli. He commented that this cannot be achieved by only offering employment on construction sites as this was limited but that it could be achieved through growing businesses in township areas.
In addition, Mathibeli says, "Radical economic transformation will not be achieved through obtaining tenders but through creating industrialists so that we can have sustainable employment opportunities. It is important that we don't wait for opportunities. You must create your own opportunities that create employment." Mathibeli concluded, "I am creating a legacy. I felt the pains of this world at an early age. I can't do anything about the past but I can shape my future."