Winner shares secrets of success

Uzair Essack was among the winners at the Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.

Maintaining a strong reputation and having good morals and values are Uzair Essack’s secrets to entrepreneurial success.

Uzair, 27, from Rondeboch is the winner of the medium business entrepreneur award category at the Entrepreneur of the Year awards ceremony, which took place yesterday in Rosebank, Johannesburg.

He was one of 15 finalists nationwide who were selected for this prestigious award. He received R70 000 prize money.

The overall winner of the Entrepreneur of the year award was Andrew Weinberg from Johannesburg who is in the retail industry.

Uzair started in the fruit-and-vegetable import-and-export business in 2015. Since then he has grown its customer base to 23 countries and achieved revenues of R34 million in the past financial year – a long way from where he began.

“I first started importing rice from Pakistan and India, though I came across another client from Saudi Arabia, who was introduced by a work colleague that was interested in importing pineapples from South Africa, and I got involved in doing that deal, and that’s how I got started into my current business,” he says.

It seems Uzair has always had a head for business: he was selling laser points to his mates at school from the age of seven.

He completed his BCom in management studies at UCT in 2017.

While his current business seems to be ticking along quite nicely now, he admits it was tough getting it off the ground.

“It is hard to get funding, and I made mistakes that cost a lot of money.”

He says he has never worked for a company, has always made his own way. His father, Ebrahim, he says, has the same entrepreneurial drive and has been an inspiration to him.

“My dad worked in the takeaway business and also sold sporting goods, so he and my family have always been supportive of my work.”

So what are his tips for success?

Get to know your industry, competition, market, client and role players thoroughly.

Start small. It’s better to make mistakes from a lower level and to learn from them than making mistakes if you start big the first time.

Believe in yourself. There will always be challenges, though you must persevere and push through during tough times.

“If you can follow those tips strongly, you will build a strong reputation, and people will start chasing after you instead of you chasing after people,” says Uzair.