JASA alumnus Ntuthuko Shezi reimagines shared value through an innovative farming investment platform
In the past few years, JASA alumnus Ntuthuko Shezi has been thinking deeply about how we store and share value. This caused him to examine the age-old African tradition of storing value in cows. In our modern era of urbanisation though, the stock market has become the platform for storing value. Yet many people feel intimidated by the complex mix of financial instruments on offer. This led Shezi to come up with an innovative concept – shaping an investment platform where people can invest in tangible assets by buying cows and investing in sustainable farms.
In this Ted Talk he explains the concept further. You can also find out more at www.lifestockwealth.com
Shezi had to go through many experiences before he was ready to shape this company. He grew up in rural Ndwedwe in KwaZulu-Natal in a home without electricity. His mother was a teacher and ran a side business at the school selling sweets, fish and vetkoek, to singlehandedly support Shezi and his four siblings. This is where he received his first taste of entrepreneurship. His grandparents lived a traditional rural life, keeping cows for milk and growing fruit and vegetables.
In high school he continued his journey of learning about business through selling biscuits. There he had the opportunity to do a JASA programme in 1997 and his team company printed and sold T-shirts.
After graduating from the University of Cape Town, with an electro-mechanical engineering degree, he worked his way up to managerial level in a management consulting firm before taking the leap to start his own company, a panel-beating operation at the airport, to service clients while they travelled. He provided panel beating, spray painting and glass repairs and employed 16 people.
In 2005, Shezi was selected as a Clinton Fellow for using social entrepreneurship to achieve social change and then in 2014 he was one of 46 South Africans to be invited to participate in the first Young African Leadership.
Shezi commented: “My Junior Achievement experience was half my lifetime ago yet I still draw on it to enforce my business decisions. We learned everything from the real nitty-gritty of business fundamentals to advice that put me ahead of my competitors by making me more industry savvy. From the beginning of the programme the facilitators pushed us to really understand the inner workings of what we wanted to achieve. We found out where the raw materials were produced, their cost at source, and how that was marked up in their sale to us and truly understand every facet of our mini- company.
“This in turn helped me start my first business, designing and printing T-Shirts and running it profitably. I then drew on both these experiences in applying for bursaries to finance my studies in Electro-Mechanical Engineering. Junior Achievement gave me a great start. I am proud to be a JASA alumnus.”