Picture: Thembokuhle Shongwe. (Facebook).
Picture: Thembokuhle Shongwe. (Facebook).

This Nando's waiter became a millionaire at 21

By Zeenat Vallie Time of article published Apr 30, 2018

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CAPE TOWN - Some people dream of retiring as a millionaire but Thembokuhle Shongwe became a self-made millionaire at the age of 21. 

His journey to success may inspire many as he hails from a humble home in Mpumalanga. However, Shongwe said that he always had an entrepreneurial drive. From selling sweets in primary school to selling vetkoeks at  Nongweleza high school. His dream of pursuing tertiary education was then a far reach as he lacked the finances. 

It was here that he decided to work at casual dining restaurant, Nandos in Durban Central. He worked as a waiter. Despite this, he did not give up on his entrepreneurial dream. 

On one fateful day, Shongwe's luck changed when he encountered a successful trader, Jabulani “Cashflow” Ngcobo. Ngcobo introduced Shongwe to forex trading where Shongwe would eventually make his first million. 

“He had come into the restaurant I was working at Nando’s, he was well dressed and you could tell that he was living a good life. It was then I told myself that I wanted to be like that". 

Shongwe said that after he went to Ngcobo's offices in Sandton, he discovered that Ngcobo traded. Ngcobo then mentored Shongwe to become a trader himself. 

Eventually, Shongwe could trade in his apron for a tuxedo. Yet, the self-made millionaire says that the transition from serving tables to becoming a full-time trader was not easy. 

“From having a 9-5 job to almost sitting in front of the laptop almost the whole day, I was used to only having the amount of money that was paid to me on a monthly basis, to suddenly having the possibility of making that same amount of money within a matter of days was amazing to me”. He adds that when he realised he could make money quickly, he became greedy. 

“I became greedy and wanted to make more every day and it isn’t always possible, I’d lose all my money and then had to start all over again. My mind had to make a lot of changes, yet still remain the same. I had to remind myself of the humility I was taught to have while growing up, in both general and financial terms. I still had to be that guy that worked in a restaurant and knew how to budget and spend his money wisely. I now can hopefully say I am a good spender regardless of the money I can make”. 

Shongwe says that it was not easy to trade forex at the beginning but with a good strategy, he started to get the hang of it. 

When asked what advice he would give to aspiring traders, Shongwe says that beginner traders should firstly gather reliable information on a particular company before jumping fleet. 

“Try their best to get a trading mentor as well as a trading “buddy” so that you will teach each other and learn from each other’s mistakes. If they are being given contractual agreements they shouldn’t sign them before legal help, to avoid any complications. And if within that particular trade company if they are given a broker, from within the company must also make research on the information received.

One thing beginner traders must always understand is that sometimes, when it comes to trading, it may not always go well for you, that there are no guarantees that you will always make a profit”. 

Meanwhile, Shongwe has kept his business interests diverse and other ventures he is involved in include logistics, construction and he said he will soon venture into the media space. 

He is now also set to add the title of author to his accolade. Shongwe will be launching his book, The Last Man Standing on May 26 at Davince Hotel in Sandton.

His book speaks about his journey as an entrepreneur, forex, and financial concepts to enable new entrepreneurs while helping the current entrepreneurs grow.

“My book also shows that anything is possible. I hope the book will change youth mid-set and encourage them to create wealth.  I want this to be a movement and not just a once-off book”, says Shongwe. 

He says that he hopes for others to learn about wealth and how to sustain it. 

“I’m from a normal lower-middle class family. I didn’t have any wealthy parents or uncles. If I can do it. Everyone and anyone can do it. I know that this will encourage our youth to believe that they can do the same. They need to believe that there are still opportunities for them in our country and that they CAN reach success no matter what their current circumstances”, said Shongwe. 

He adds that other entrepreneurs and youth can succeed. All they need is a good mentor who is an invaluable asset to a business. 

“If you want to become a millionaire, you have to learn from a millionaire”. That’s how I started; reading books by other millionaires in order to learn from them. It changes your mindset and the way you see finances and opportunity”, concludes Shongwe. 

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