Inspiration with KK Combi: from Gugulethu businessman to JSE boards

February 20, 2015
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Zitulele ‘KK’ Combi, a Gugulethu multi-millionaire, is a successful entrepreneur and businessman in South Africa. A spirited and determined man, who valued has freedom, KK has gone from his first business venture in Gugulethu to become chairman of Thembeka Capital, an empowerment partner to PSG, one of SA’s top-four investment firms. He is also on the boards of Pioneer Foods, PSG Group and Curro Holdings and at one stage served concurrently on 15 boards. His wise words of believing in your ideas, persistence, and boldness were shared with Cape Town’s young professionals at our recent Inspiration Session.

Zitulele is an entrepreneur personified. Big dreams, risk taker, opportunity finder, not deterred by failure and seeing obstacles as stepping stones for success. With Walt Disney as his inspiration, he was comforted to see that Disney had been bankrupt seven times before achieving huge success. KK was frank about having seven judgements against him at one time, but says you need to believe in yourself and create alliances with others who will encourage you to follow your dreams. KK’s perseverance paid off and he was the first South African to be crowned World Entrepreneur for Managing Change in 2001.

With many diverse ventures, KK had many stories to tell. From proposing to Transnet when he wanted to create a shopping mall over a railway at Nyanga Junction, to getting Piet Koornoff to arrange a meeting with Chris Stals, the then Governor of the Reserve Bank, to obtain his forex dealer’s licence when he started Master Currency which was eventually sold to Bidvest.

But in his position, he’s also had to deal with unforeseen and stressful challenges. When he joined the board of Pioneer Foods, he had to deal with a bread fixing scandal with potential fines that would have bankrupted the company. He also invested everything in Thembeka Capital just before the sub-prime market crash, but believes that his strong partnership with the Moutons of PSG helped him through that.

Most remarkable about Zitulele is his approach towards apartheid as he ‘blatantly disregarded it’. He believes that ‘God did not put him on this earth to be poor and only you are to blame if you don’t take your share’. Clearly KK has a mental tenacity that has made him a success and shared his seven step plan to achieve this:

  • Make good and better choices
  • Strive to develop better habits
  • Build a better character
  • Become more valuable
  • Attract bigger and better opportunities
  • Be able to contribute more
  • Then the rewards get bigger and better.

With the fact that KK refused to leave the Cape Town city region, it makes him a great ambassador for our city. He said that while it was not always easy, he wouldn’t change a thing and is an inspiration for us all.

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