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Mduduzi Kenneth Mohlodi’s story is the kind that fuels the wildest entrepreneurial dreams – at one stage homeless, he’s now striking deals in countries from Dubai to India.
Mduduzi admits that he could never have imagined his latest projects – the launch of Vensy E-Mall, as well as a partnership with robotics expert Dr Aliriza Gaffor of Flew Up Technologies to create Flew Up Technologies Africa, sellers of the first humanoid robots in South Africa – when he was working as a flight attendant for British Airways Comair.
“It’s been a long journey,” he admits, a journey that started when he first joined British Airways Comair as a customer service agent. The next step was the establishment of his company BTE in 2003, which sold clothing and electronics he procured during trips to Turkey and China. Mduduzi took his company to the next level in 2012, when he registered BTE as an import and export business and added visa services for travellers to China to his portfolio.
Two years later, after resigning from his job to make BTE his full-time concern, he lost everything – including his house. “It’s fortunate that I had bought plenty of smart clothes during my buying trips, because no one would have known just by looking at me that I was living out of my car. I got an early start to the day, washing and brushing my teeth at a petrol station, and then spending the rest of the time searching for work.”
That search eventually ended in a successful tender for a three-year contract to supply security seals at SAA – and from there, business seemed to roll his way. “I never stopped pitching for work,” he informs. In fact, it was one such proposal that led to his current initiative. After tendering to supply the South African Post Office with security services, he was contacted to transport and distribute Sassa beneficiary cards. His work in this area led to a meeting with William Stenhouse of logistics firm Agility Global, who invited him to become part of a UAE/ Africa networking organisation – and this, in turn, led to further portentous introductions. One of these was with tech expert Evans Parson, who has partnered with Mduduzi in a number of ventures, including the establishment of a smart, IoT-based warehouse in Maputo within the Agility Warehouse Park and, more recently, the e-malls.
Mduduzi says that, since his education extends no further than a certificate in travel and tourism, his success is rooted in his ability to forge relationships with the right partners, work hard, and understand every industry he enters. He further credits his faith and the lessons taught by his mother, herself an entrepreneur, who single-handedly raised three children.
His next step? Creating a data centre which will have room for tech experts at all levels to hone their skills, as well as leveraging his existing businesses to create 30,000 job opportunities. A noble endeavour indeed.