Chicken busi­ness gave en­tre­pre­neur his wings

Sunday World - - World Of Jobs - AB­DUL MILAZI

GROW­ING up sell­ing chick­ens in a vil­lage called Molelema in North West, en­tre­pre­neur Danny Tong never dreamt he would one day rub shoul­ders with world lead­ers.

Lessons from his strict fa­ther Ge­orge Tong, who ran a chicken busi­ness, gave wings to Danny s dream.

At 34, Tong is the proud owner of the In­ve­sTong Group which has sub­sidiaries in con­struc­tion, re­cruit­ment, in­vest­ment and clean­ing ser­vices.

Grow­ing up in a vil­lage sell­ing, I had no idea that was a choice of my ca­reer later in life,” says Tong.

He says for him suc­cess comes with a re­spon­si­bil­ity to up­lift his com­mu­nity and to also con­nect with like-minded en­trepreneurs.

Tong ma­tric­u­lated in 2001 at Lephat­shim­ile High School in Molelema, be­fore study­ing Busi­ness Man­age­ment at Wits Busi­ness School.

While at Wits he joined City Year South Africa as a vol­un­teer and trav­elled to the USA where he met global lead­ers in­clud­ing Bill Clin­ton.

In 2014, Tong com­pleted a three­year en­trepreneur­ship coach­ing pro­gramme with Raiz­corp through the Da Vinci In­sti­tute.

He has since been se­lected as one of the Top 30 Young En­trepreneurs in the world by a Scot­tish youth en­trepreneur­ship or­gan­i­sa­tion, Power of Youth. He was also cho­sen to par­tic­i­pate in the In­vestec and South AfricaIs­rael Fo­rum spon­sored Young En­trepreneurs trip to Is­rael as part of the 25 most promis­ing young en­trepreneurs from South Africa, Aus­tralia and the UK.

Tong says his ca­reer kicked off 15 years ago when he started his first com­pany, Peo Cloth­ing.

In 2006 he es­tab­lished In­ve­sTong General Projects & In­vest­ments, which has since evolved into the In­ve­sTong Group.

The group re­cently scooped a gold award at the FNB Busi­ness of the Year Awards. He also launched the Kasi Ca­reer Expo in May last year which took place in Soweto, KwaMashu, Tem­bisa and Rusten­burg over sev­eral weeks.

The group fol­lowed this up with Africa s first Women in IT Sum­mit in Septem­ber, which was part of a global cam­paign to in­volve more women in the ICT sec­tor.

He says if he hadn t cho­sen the cor­po­rate sec­tor, he would have been a poul­try farmer. Born on Septem­ber 23, 1981, Tong says he was a re­bel­lious kid.

Mostly what I did was sell and gam­ble through pool tables to make ex­tra money. I was never in­volved in the usual ac­tiv­i­ties that my age group was into like soc­cer and choirs,” he says.

He takes his en­trepreneur­ship spirit from his fa­ther.

My mom, Maria Tong, was a do­mes­tic worker while my dad, Ge­orge, was run­ning his busi­nesses around the vil­lage,” says Tong.

He says his fa­ther was very tough on him on busi­ness mat­ters. He treated me the same as all his em­ploy­ees, if not worse.”

His fond­est mem­ory is when his fa­ther sat him down at age 14 and had a chat with him, and it wasn t about the birds and the bees

I re­mem­ber at one stage when I was about 14 years old, my dad had a man-to-man con­ver­sa­tion with me about busi­ness and mak­ing money so that I can up­lift and em­power my com­mu­nity and fam­ily, and about be­com­ing a man. To this day I still re­mem­ber de­tails of that con­ver­sa­tion, says Tong.

He says the great­est les­son he has learnt is to trust one s gut feel­ing and never to work with any­one you don t trust.

He has also started the In­ve­sTong Foun­da­tion to em­power and bring dig­nity to ru­ral and less priv­i­leged com­mu­ni­ties

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