CityPress - - Business - LESETJA MALOPE lesetja.malope@city­press.co.za

For­mer ANC Youth League (ANCYL) trea­sur­ergen­eral and MP Pule Mabe has es­tab­lished a unique busi­ness that is set to change the land­scape of the en­vi­ron­men­tal sec­tor.

Mabe, who re­signed two months ago to make way for pres­i­den­tial hope­ful Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, has re­fo­cused his en­ergy on grow­ing his com­pany, Ri­valox.

The com­pany has al­ready reg­is­tered a patent, has a num­ber of in­no­va­tive waste man­age­ment so­lu­tion ser­vices and em­ploys over 200 peo­ple.

Mabe is the chair­man of Ri­valox, which has a num­ber of sub­sidiaries. They in­clude En­vi­roMobi, a patented ser­vice de­liv­ery man­age­ment plat­form in­no­va­tion; Mvest, an in­dus­trial laun­dro­mat chain; and the Kariki, a mo­torised three-wheeler mini­truck used for var­i­ous ser­vices in­clud­ing waste man­age­ment and laun­dry col­lec­tion, and whose de­sign is legally pro­tected.

The Kariki has some re­sem­blance to an au­to­mo­bile rick­shaw, has a unique de­sign and is pow­ered by a mo­tor­bike-sized engine. It has also been reg­is­tered on the elec­tronic na­tional ad­min­is­tra­tion traf­fic in­for­ma­tion sys­tem (eNaTIS) to be able to op­er­ate on public roads in the en­tire South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity re­gion. This ben­e­fit that has al­ready opened op­por­tu­ni­ties in Botswana, where there are al­ready plans to part­ner with gov­ern­ment and lo­cal busi­nesses to cre­ate 2 500 jobs.

The Karikis are cur­rently be­ing used as waste col­lecters us­ing a net­work of driv­ers who are all on a mo­bile ap­pli­ca­tion plat­form and use the EZmes­sen­ger an­droid ap­pli­ca­tion – a real-time mes­sen­ger that con­nects ser­vice providers with their cus­tomers.

“It pro­vides peer-to-peer com­mu­ni­ca­tion and di­rec­tory ser­vices used mostly by public and pri­vate en­ti­ties for eas­ier man­age­ment,” he said.

Speak­ing to City Press from the Kariki plant in Krugers­dorp, where thou­sands of the patented de­sign ve­hi­cles are as­sem­bled, Mabe said the com­pany has been around for al­most seven years but he has been in busi­ness for way longer.

His back­ground in busi­ness is well doc­u­mented, in­clud­ing be­ing en­tan­gled in a num­ber of scan­dals, but Mabe said that has not de­terred him.

“I have been ac­cused of ev­ery­thing. I have tes­ti­fied in courts af­ter false ac­cu­sa­tions. I have had find­ings against me by the Public Pro­tec­tor. There’s noth­ing I haven’t been ac­cused of. I have been do­ing busi­ness for a long time and it’s my re­spon­si­bil­ity to serve my coun­try even in this ca­pac­ity,” said Mabe, who is a for­mer jour­nal­ist and now holds a mas­ter’s de­gree in en­vi­ron­men­tal de­vel­op­ment.

The Lim­popo-born Mabe has ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­ence in me­dia, hav­ing been ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer for an ed­u­ca­tion TV show, and has plans to con­sol­i­date that pas­sion with en­vi­ron­men­tal ini­tia­tives.

He ad­mits that some peo­ple are still scep­ti­cal of the busi­ness due to his as­so­ci­a­tion with it. As a re­sult, the model is not de­pen­dent on ten­ders but rather a fran­chis­ing model that en­ables it to gen­er­ate a max­i­mum num­ber of qual­ity jobs.

“There are in­stances, where as soon as peo­ple hear I am in­volved, at­ti­tudes change. I have done busi­ness for gov­ern­ment and will con­tinue if they need be­cause, af­ter all, I am a ci­ti­zen with rights like ev­ery other ci­ti­zen,” he said. Mabe added that a lot of work had gone into the in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions un­der the Ri­valox um­brella.

Ri­valox also houses Mvest, which is a pickup and de­liv­ery laun­dry ser­vice that has its own an­droid app and also uses Kariki ve­hi­cles.

Mvest also makes var­i­ous de­ter­gents that have al­ready found their way into thou­sands of house­holds through a num­ber of part­ner­ships, in­clud­ing one with a pop­u­lar fu­neral par­lour.

Dur­ing a tour of the plant, Mabe seemed to have an in-depth un­der­stand­ing of the en­tire value chain of the fa­cil­ity, in­clud­ing the tech­ni­cal as­pects.

“I un­der­stand these in­no­va­tions very well and also be­cause I am do­ing my re­search on En­vi­roMobi as a por­ta­ble en­vi­ron­men­tal waste man­age­ment plat­form as part of my Mas­ter of Busi­ness Lead­er­ship course with Unisa,” he said.

“Af­ter the In­no­va­tion Hub we at­tended in Botswana re­cently, we are look­ing into set­ting up a por­ta­ble plant for san­i­tary tow­els, a plant for de­ter­gents as well as for the Kariki, and these ini­tia­tives would be able to im­me­di­ately em­ploy

2 500 peo­ple. We cur­rently pro­vide all these ser­vices in South Africa, so we are just ex­pand­ing,” he said.

Though he re­mains po­lit­i­cally ac­tive and dab­bles be­tween the “two lives”, he does not rule out the pos­si­bil­ity of his re­turn­ing to pol­i­tics should he have the op­por­tu­nity to do so.

“These busi­ness sys­tems are so re­li­able that they will be able to run smoothly with­out me. We have dif­fer­ent di­vi­sions and units that do their job well, in­clud­ing HR and a call cen­tre as well as the var­i­ous plat­forms for mon­i­tor­ing. Checks and bal­ances are in place,” he said.

He also be­lieves be­ing a politi­cian does not pre­clude him from be­ing in­volved in busi­ness. In fact, he sees it as a duty to con­trib­ute within the prin­ci­ple of “the broad church” of the ANC.

“There’s an added bur­den for us (politi­cians) not only to do things right, but to do them well.”

It seems Pule has taken the ANCYL’s for­mer motto, “eco­nomic free­dom in our life­time”, to heart.


RIDE ALONG Pule Mabe drives a Kariki built by his com­pany’s sub­sidiary

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