Durban Entrepreneurs Club’s monthly meetings are becoming more and more popular, and the reason for this has to do with the great networking opportunities – and the quality of speakers. When the Founder and Chairman of the Club, Grant Gavin, heard Sihle Tshabalala, (an ex offender, turned successful entrepreneur) speak in Cape Town earlier this year, he was blown away by his story. “ I just knew I had to get Sihle to Durban to inspire Durban entrepreneurs in the same way he is inspiring communities around South Africa.” said Grant.
During his time in prison, Sihle became a key member of a prisoner initiated project that changed prison rehabilitation in South Africa. Since leaving prison, he co-founded a coding company, Brothers for All (which has evolved into Quirky 30) – and has become a key voice for his community and a game changer in teaching high school drop outs, teenage Mums, unemployed youth and ex-offenders – computer skills, coding, entrepreneurship and digital marketing.
Speaking to a packed house at the June meeting of the D.E.C which was held at the Durban Country Club, Sihle, who hails from crime ridden Langa township – and who spent eleven years in jail for robbery, said that what keeps people in jail is the fact that no one believes in them. During his eleven year stint he set out to change things – one life at a time, starting with his own. “I had no qualifications, but was determined to learn a skill that I could pass on to others.” He learnt several high tech skills, and while he was in prison he set up an NPO, that saw him winning an international award for innovation. When he co-founded Brothers for All he said that the idea was to up-skill in marketable skills, and create an inclusive economy using technology to empower, advance and create sustainable livelihoods which will reduce the high levels of youth unemployment and crime – and root out poverty.
Sihle said that entrepreneurs were similar to robbers in the way that they were natural born hustlers – and risk takers! On the subject of rehabilitation programmes in prison, he said that the tragedy was that there were no decent progammes and prison has become a breeding ground for more criminal activity. He stressed the fact that handouts in the form of finance were a waste of time. “Give people your time, not your money. Mentorship is what will help this country to thrive.” He said.
The next meeting of the D.E.C will be held on July 27 at 5.30 p.m. at Durban Country Club. Guest speaker will be award winning Action Coach , Darryn Le Grange, who will inspire entrepreneurs to turn their customers into Raving Fans! Visit the D.E.C site on www.durbanentrepreneursclub.co.za to book.