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Opportunity Issue 99

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Opportunity magazine is a niche business-to-business publication that explores various investment opportunities within Southern Africa’s economic sectors and looks to provide its readers with first-hand knowledge about South African business. Opportunity also looks to present South African business to international markets that may have interests in investing in South Africa. The publication is endorsed by the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI).

INTERVIEW Patson Phala

INTERVIEW Patson Phala started out in business in printing and moved on to T-shirts at the time of the 2020 World Cup. He has been branching out ever since. Credit: Đồng Phục Hải Triều on Unsplash Then the following morning she called me and said, “Patson, I want to see your CV.” I said I didn’t have a CV because I was not looking for a job, so that was interesting. That’s how I was invited to speak before 24 university professors. To return to business, you started out doing printing and then T-shirts. After 2010, how did your business interests expand? In 2009 and 2010 South African Breweries and Coca Cola started assisting their drivers to buy their vehicles. This helped to reduce hijackings on the road and then we heard about a fund to finance black people to get into the trucking business. I followed up and met someone but a week later that office was closed. Then I was introduced to a person in a little town near to Sasolburg. When I met him, he said he would introduce me to the trucking business. He would teach him how to draft a business plan and a contract. He asked me to organise black investors to come into trucking. Each one must bring R15 000 and then five of them will go in on one truck for one year and then one day get their own. They can each buy their own truck. So that’s how I got into the trucking business. I spread the word about this trucking business. It never worked because the person then went away. He ran away. Even now he is not anywhere on social media. I cannot find him on Facebook. I can’t find his home. I can’t find his contact details. But I found out later that he was sent by a politician. I also discovered that the sim card I had been given was being used by 40 people who owned sites and were using my company name for BEE purposes. When I put in my own sim card, I saw a message that I needed to appear in the Pretoria High Court. The case is still pending. The Independent has written about it as a scam. What was your next venture? From 2014 I restarted as Waya Waya Global Connection SA (Pty) Ltd, no longer a closed corporation. Then I had an argument with a company in Saudi Arabia. We were supposed to build an airport in Sekhukhune, the first airport that was commissioned by the government in Sekhukhune for the mining sector but that went sour. Then I moved on, I didn’t worry and I don’t cry. I went on and thought about what to do next and that’s when I found another contract, a very good contract with an airtime and data-supply company. This was launched in my office but 22 of the 24 machines were retrieved because of “factory faults”. They would take them away and bring them back, but they never came back. I still have the contract so I am not worried. I took it to court and it is in court at the moment. Is this when the business financing began? This is when I thought about people who are struggling to get finance for their businesses. I launched a business called Brave African Investment Holding. My plan was to sit together with the project owners, for example people who have their mining licence but do not have money to mine and then with investors' who wanted to mine in their 62 | www.opportunityonline.co.za

INTERVIEW Vladimir Patkachakov on Unsplash areas. My thinking was that we wanted to soften investors hearts and people would be able to speak to the investors. Is this how you came into contact with Dammam Capital Middle East Investment? Dammam Capital Middle East Investment came to the fore in July this year but I had previously received an email from Abu Dhabi Development Fund, these are the people who approached me. I don’t know how they knew about me but then I found out later that the former District Mayor of our area is now in Dubai. He knew me very well. He knew that I am not a politician, I am just a community developer. I am interested in development. But then things changed again? After about two weeks I received an email from Dammam through their consultant who suggested the move to this fund. What is your role? I have signed an agency contract for two years with Dammam Capital Middle East Investment and my company has an executive sole mandate to receive and approve funding applications from Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia and North and South America. We only accept proposals from a minimum of R300 000 upwards. We finance any megaproject that is aligned to government in terms of poverty alleviation and job creation. What is the current project? The buying or leasing of abandoned government buildings in South Africa and in SADC to revitalise a skills academy. It is called the HAT Training Development Academy where they are re-skilling young people who are not working at the moment so that they can be absorbed into the employment market. The idea is to renew the buildings, upgrade the infrastructure and put in equipment to train people in mining, agriculture and other sectors. What is the location of other projects you are involved in? I am playing a role in three other projects: one is in Ghana, one is in Kenya and the final one is in Lesotho. Which are the most active of the subsidiaries of Waya Waya? The most active one at the moment is Waya Waya Global Media because I am publishing a magazine on a monthly basis. It is called The Updates. The focus of the magazine is on mining and the chiefs in the areas where the mines are operating. I check that what the mines normally give as part of their social responsibilities to communities, actually gets to communities. I find that there are no follow-ups, there are no reports on whether the project is successful. I have found that some mine officials such as the so-called “community liaison officer” (CLOs), are conniving with the chiefs and then undermining the communities. They give the chiefs the money and the community does not get the special development that they need. That is why there is tension all the time in the mining areas. My focus is to report and update the community on what is happening. I also profile the mine and point out what they give to the community. Any other news from any of the other subsidiaries? Under Waya Waya Finances, the good news is that I have now signed a very concrete Agency Agreement with Dammum Capital Middle East Investment and things have been moving faster in the direction that I was anticipating.

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