EIT Spotlight; Aubrey Ndiza

Abu Okari | Tuesday, September 26th, 2017

This week, we shall the spotlight on Aubrey Ndiza. Aubrey knew he wanted to be an entrepreneur from a very young age. Read on to learn what employing family and friends has taught him, what he wants to achieve and why he loves entrepreneurship.

The call centre is the business that taught me to choose wisely which family or friends to do business with.

What is your nickname?

Lebo, a short version for Malebo-Angati, which means deep appreciation towards the gods/ancestors.

So your parents were quite grateful you were born, right?

Yes, they were quite grateful!

Where are you from?

I am from Gugulethu Cape Town, but I have basically lived all over: Johannesburg, Cape Town, and East London.

What do you call a denizen of Johannesburg?  

A Jo’burger! The funny bit about it is that it is that it sounds like it could be someone’s name!

What were you doing before joining MEST?

I was into business consultancy, specifically in sales and marketing. It was a personal thing: I was the only employee.

What motivated you to join MEST?

Most of my consultancy services actually required a lot of knowledge from my end about tech and basic web development. So I started educating myself about HTML and CSS. Coincidentally, my mentor had seen the MEST opportunity and was impressed with it and so he shared it with me.

I saw MEST as the platform to equip myself in tech and software development and also bring my idea to life.

                                        Aubrey Ndiza during an easy moment!

Why do you consider yourself an entrepreneur?

Mainly the fact that I found myself in the world of entrepreneurship at a very young age. Back then, I understood entrepreneurship as being a businessman. In fact, when I was 16, I came across this old book of mine, an exercise book, where you were supposed to write what you want to be when you grow up. I was in grade two when we did that – my answer was a businesswoman!

That is around the time I was planning my first startup. It was in events management. Since then I just literally felt I was exactly where I needed to be.

It is a safe place for entrepreneurs to start their journeys. The exchange of ideas goes beyond the classroom – the whole process is thought provoking.

Why entrepreneurship – what drove you down that path?

Just the act of coming up with an idea and taking it to market. The daily operations of doing that excites me and makes me feel good. Like I have a purpose in life.

There is also the thing about being in control of creating my own legacy, my own empire.

When you think of this empire that you want create, what do you envision?

In my thoughts, it looks like a multinational holding company that has its legs and hands in almost every industry or business.

                                      Aubrey during his days as a dread-locked entertainment entrepreneur

How many businesses did you run before joining MEST?

Two. The consultancy was a sole-proprietorship. I had the entertainment business that I set up at 16. It started as a hip hop group which I managed. Later we leveraged our popularity in North & East of Jo’burg to host events for an extra revenue stream.  I moved the business back to Cape Town after a year, and the hip hop group split. After a while, we ran into challenges and I rebranded. In 2013, I had to go back Lesotho for my initiation ceremony. That’s when the business ended.

There was also a call centre. We were outsourced by a Financial Service Provider to sell Debt Reconciliation services to government employees across South Africa through telemarketing. It collapsed after 1 year 8 months!

Why did the call centre fall apart?

I put a lot of trust in the people whom I expected to get the job done when I wasn’t there. Then, I eventually realized I was effectively shooting myself in the foot. They didn’t do much. The call centre is the business that taught me to choose wisely which family or friends to do business with.

What do you think of MEST, and have your expectations been met so far?

They have. Especially with the tech side of things, it is exactly the challenge I had expected it to be. I had this business idea I had been working on before I joined MEST, and through all the tech classes I have been able to make it a tangible tech idea written in code. It took a lot of self-education and also some help from other EITs.  

Also, so far it has been a good programme and platform for growth. The programme could do with more exposure; creating more awareness so more people could benefit. It is a safe place for entrepreneurs to start their journeys. The exchange of ideas goes beyond the classroom – the whole process is thought provoking.

What has been your best moment at MEST so far?

The one night when I finally decided I was going to stop being homesick and start embracing everything that Ghana has to offer.