Johannesburg - Guerrilla entrepreneur and celebrity DJ Sbu suspended his aggressive campaign to promote his energy drink MoFaya last week, to lobby for bursaries for matriculants who have achieved outstanding results.
Through his Sbusiso Leope Educational Foundation, he connects with bright students from underprivileged communities with big business, who then pay for their tuition fees.
On Wednesday, the day matric results were published, social media was ablaze after DJ Sbu posted a picture of his 2014 beneficiary Mpho Mokoena, who had scored seven distinctions a year ago, with people accusing him of lying and insinuating that Mokoena was among the current crop of top achievers.
The Sunday Independent caught up with the DJ to talk about the twitterati storm around the Mokoena post, his philanthropic work, and entrepreneurship.
What is your relationship with Mpho Mokoena and what happened on Wednesday?
Mpho is one of the many matriculants that I help through my foundation. We collect bursaries from companies and link them with the underprivileged students.
Mpho is one of those kids. He got seven distinctions last year. He enrolled at the University of Cape Town (UCT). The confusion happened when I posted his picture and (that) of other children we have helped over the years. People thought that he was the class of 2015.
I don’t know who started the tweet (storm) because the results were not even out yet. How could I have already visited his home and given him a bursary before the results came out?
How many students will your foundation be assisting this year?
We are still busy collecting the results. We will know very soon.
Where is your focus now?
I am putting my efforts behind my energy drink and my TV show on CNBC Africa.
I have been learning a lot about entrepreneurship. This is not a get-rich-quick scheme. I want to be a reputable player in the market. I want to kick out the major players. I want to kick out Red Bull. I want to be No 1. That’s my main goal.
For me to be No 1, I have to study my opposition and do better than them. I have the advantage that I understand the socio-economic issues of the young in this country. I party with them, entertain them, educate them and inspire them. So I believe we have a very good chance of being No 1.
What is the biggest lesson you have learnt about running a business?
You don’t have to wait for funding to start a business. Had I waited, I’d still be waiting. I tried the NEF (National Empowerment Fund), the DTI, and a few business people and nobody has helped.
We used our own money so every cent we make goes back to the business.
What are the frustrations of running a business?
I question why a business like Mofaya does not get any support from the government.
They don’t have to assist me but they can give young people hope that if they come up with an innovation, the government will support them.
They talk about supporting entrepreneurs but there is still no action. All the products that you see when you open your cupboard are not owned by black people.
When are we going to stop being a consuming nation and start producing? We always talk about it but no one is doing anything.
Have you evolved from being an artist to focusing on business?
I have been studying towards an MBA with Henley Business School for three years. Obviously I have evolved, although I have failed several times. But being in class with those bright minds, I’ve learnt many things. The birth of MoFaya happened while I was in my MBA class.
Not that I am no longer involved in music. That’s where my heart is, that’s what gave me an opportunity to be where I am today. But even in music I was in the music business with my record label.
Will you go back to radio?
I have had interesting offers but right now the focus is to get MoFaya running. I can never rule out radio and television. The SABC is my home. They gave me my first break. I belong to the SABC because I appeal to the masses of South Africa. I have got so much to offer the SABC. I need to be back on radio as long as it doesn’t clash with current projects.
Would you start your own radio station?
Of course. I believe in, and advocate, ownership. You don’t have a voice if you don’t have ownership. When you go on a Metro FM stage and promote your own product, you risk getting fired, because it is someone else’s business.
Who inspires you?
Strive Masiyiwa; Daphne Mashile Nkosi, who they call the iron lady of the mining industry; Tim Tebeila; Robert Gumede and Phuti Mahanyele. I am inspired by my 19-year-old cousin, Rorisang Mosedi, who is at UCT. He is a youth leader on campus, a writer and a speaker. He is a very intelligent young man. I’m inspired by the way he sees the world. But I’m inspired most of all by my daughter.
How has fatherhood changed you?
I’m a different Sbusiso from six years ago because I am a father. I don’t want my daughter to grow up and ask: “Dad, what did you do when it was your time to make a better South Africa?”
How do you balance your business with being a father?
I see my daughter at least once a week. I am lucky to have the woman I do as the mother of my child. She is very responsible. She understands the importance of a father in a child’s life, so she gives me enough time with my daughter.
If I have not seen my daughter for a week or two she calls me and tells me the baby is missing me.
What have you learnt about love and relationships?
Keep it private. Once you involve (the public) in your relationship then everybody has an opinion on it. Make it as sacred as possible.
Do you still believe in love?
Of course. I am not looking but praying that it will happen in its own time. My last relationship was a beautiful one. We had plans to get married but unfortunately it did not work out. Right now I am just focusing on my daughter. I was in a homely environment and seeing my daughter every day and going to church as a family. I miss that.
Have you started dating?
Yes. There are people you meet and like. But you also don’t pursue too much. It will happen on its own.
What are you looking for in a woman?
I just want a loving person that respects themselves and believes in God. A person that wants to build a family. I am not concerned about what the person does for a living as long as she is an amazing woman with a good heart.
What is your biggest dream?
To see the eight wonders of the world.
Any plans for 2016?
I’m launching bottled water in June. I’ll also be launching other beverages.
You are active in the political space. Do you see yourself playing a role in politics?
I am not a politician and don’t have any aspirations to become one. I am a social entrepreneur.
I want to bring about change through my business without having to be in politics. Everything that you see me partaking in has got to do with young people because politics affects their future.
I respect politicians but despise their dishonesty. I am not affiliated to any political party but I participate on issues that affect young people, whether it is the ANC, DA or EFF.
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