Sunday World

Chicken business gave entreprene­ur his wings


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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