The sky is not the limit for emerging black entrepreneur Mandla Sibeko (31), whose lucky star shone at the right time, helping him scoop a multimillion rand FIFA deal to handle the entire look and feel of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Sibeko, who grew up in rural Mpumalanga and owns 40% of Icon SA - a partnership with a UK-based company - declined to disclose the deal's monetary value, but confirmed that the contract will create 3000 jobs nationwide from, among others, production and installations.
“Responsible for branding and signage”
He told Bizcommunity.com yesterday, Sunday, 9 May 2010, “Icon SA is in partnership with Worldwide Sports. We are responsible for branding and signage in the stadiums, protocol routes, IBC (International Broadcasting Centre), concessions, FIFA headquarters, directional signage, hotels, airports and official buses in all the stadiums and cities.
“All preparations are at an advance stage to create one of the best world cup experiences ever.”
It appears Sibeko's contract was won via a legal channel, which exempts him from the ‘tenderpreneuring evil' that has been prevalent South Africa in the past year or so.
He explained: “The 2010 Local Organising Committee (LOC) was in charge of the tender process, which began with me setting up the Icon Office in 2007. It took three years to bid and eventually to respond to the tender.
“Three candidates were shortlisted out of many bidders and we were advised to form a consortium slot machines online with another local company, WorldWide Sports, which had been shortlisted.”
Major talking point
However, with many black entrepreneurs nowadays embarking on la vida loca (a crazy life) and providing shoddy services after winning lucrative contracts, Sibeko's victory will surely engender a major talking point, especially in a white-dominated sector such as this.
He said: “Very true. This is one sector that is not transformed. Even after all these years there are few back players from an ownership perspective, management and expertise. LOC, which wanted to use this project to create a legacy after the world cup, had strict BEE requirements which made all other players interested in the tender ensure they had the credentials.
“What made our Icon proposition is that we had sold a business that would remain in SA after the world cup, black-owned. And skills transfer to make Icon SA ready to run events of this scope in SA and Africa for years to come.
“I own a majority share in Icon SA and I am already in talks with major corporates on offering the same service. So, after the world cup, there will be tight competition and challenges in this sector to transform.”
2006 FIFA World Cup
Icon UK is a stadium and city dressing company that branded the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, and there is no doubt Sibeko's links with the British company played a pivotal role in his ‘victory'.
“Icon UK's experience was definitely a major factor in winning, but my own experience as an entrepreneur contributed as well. I am also a shareholder at Tone Digital [which] will be responsible for most of the production, so the comprehensive business model and one-stop shop was key to our success,” Sibeko, who also lived in Katlehong and Kwathema in Ekurhuleni, said.
He slammed young South Africans who ‘misuse' the BEE policy by merely seeking stakes in businesses and not using these stakes to gain experience and build their own empires.
Lastly, he urged banks to reform in order to meet the demand of creating new entrepreneurs in the new SA, saying their current policies which block access to capital are a major barrier for black entrepreneurs.
By: Issa Sikiti da Silva [10 May 2010 10:40]