Busi­ness­woman steer­ing the course for stokvel in­vestor

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - SPORT - Luy­olo Mkhen­tane

A JO­HAN­NES­BURG busi­ness­woman who has tasted hard times has rein­vented her­self in a new ven­ture that al­lows peo­ple to in­vest to­gether in dif­fer­ent sec­tors.

Thabisile Gumbi, who claims to have been born with a sil­ver spoon in her mouth, says she is part of the 68 mem­bers of Africa’s Growth Fund, a stokvel aim­ing to in­vest in the lu­cra­tive stu­dent ac­com­mo­da­tion sec­tor.

Each mem­ber of the stokvel con­trib­utes R1 300 a month and to­gether they iden­tify dif­fer­ent busi­nesses to in­vest in. The group has al­ready raised R600 000 in ten months.

“Our ul­ti­mate goal is to in­vest in stu­dent prop­erty. We are also able to as­sist some of our en­trepreneurs with their smal­l­anyana (small) projects, with a fo­cus on town­ships,” says Gumbi.

Gumbi iden­ti­fies with the peo­ple in the projects she is in­volved in. She un­der­stands their life experiences and their strug­gles. Gumbi’s story is a kind of riches to rags story.

At some point, Gumbi, who has fi­nan­cial skills, had it all – a com­fort­able home, cars, private school­ing for her kids and a lu­cra­tive job with the Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices Board.

Yet de­spite her ex­per­tise and knowl­edge of how to spot business op­por­tu­ni­ties, Gumbi ran into per­sonal fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties .

In 2014, after a near ner­vous break­down, her world came crash­ing down leav­ing her with noth­ing.

As a way of cop­ing with her sit­u­a­tion, she started writ­ing about her life, try­ing to un­der­stand where it all went wrong for her.

The re­sult was a book she is cur­rently com­plet­ing aimed at pok­ing holes at “the sys­tem” and its lies about money and in­vest­ing in the black com­mu­nity.

The book, en­ti­tled Money Lies You Have No Business Be­liev­ing, will be launched next year. It looks at how the sys­tem has trained peo­ple to be con­sumers in­stead of in­vestors.

No­body will in­vite you to buy shares that have fallen 50%, Gumbi ex­plains, “but they are quick to ad­ver­tise prod­ucts in big, colour­ful ad­verts. Prop­erty prices also fall all the time but who ad­ver­tises that?”

Gumbi, who says she is in­volved in con­struc­tion, con­sult­ing and e-hail­ing business, Tax­ify, claims blacks, who are the ma­jor­ity of con­sumers in the coun­try, should chan­nel their monies into sup­port­ing black busi­nesses.

“It’s a lie that an out­side force will come and help black peo­ple by spend­ing their money on black peo­ple’s ser­vices,” she says.

One of the biggest lies Gumbi was ever told, she in­sists, is that she needed to be an em­ployee. She con­sid­ers that be­ing em­ployed is a form of ex­ploita­tion deeply rooted in slav­ery.

Some of the money from the stokvel has been in­vested in forex, bit­coin, and in other black busi­nesses.

Gumbi was born in a typ­i­cal mid­dle class fam­ily, with a school teacher mother and a fa­ther who was an ex-po­lit­i­cal pris­oner work­ing at the KZN leg­is­la­ture.

She speaks glow­ingly about her late grand­fa­ther who owned bot­tle stores and shops and also in­vested in minibus taxis and trucks as a side­line.

“I was born into this rich fam­ily, but after fin­ish­ing ma­tric in 1996, I came to Joburg be­cause of a fam­ily feud. I worked as a cashier, did house­keep­ing at ho­tels, worked at dif­fer­ent call cen­tres, and sold food from a con­tainer in Tem­bisa,” she says, adding that she also bought three minibus taxis. “But the bet­ter I pro­gressed, the more prob­lems I en­coun­tered.”

Gumbi says she started read­ing books about en­trepreneur­ship and fol­low­ing en­trepreneurs on so­cial me­dia to find out how they ran their busi­nesses, and she made contact with suc­cess­ful business peo­ple at business con­fer­ences.

“I went ev­ery­where the wind took me and I started hav­ing men­tors, peo­ple who are in that multi-mil­lion­aire space,” she says.

Thabisile Gumbi

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