From a teenage dishwasher to a hustling disc jockey popularly known as Master Ziggy, and now a high-flying entrepreneur, the biography and rise of Xolane Ndhlovu is a case study for business schools.
In a world that is ever in need of role models, his emergence alongside his DafriGroup Plc is a positive development for Africa.
For someone born into poverty, whose childhood was spent on the dusty streets of Burgersfort, a town in Mpumalanga province of South Africa, Xolane Ndhlovu had his fair share of the hard-knock life, including working as a dishwasher at 17, becoming a DJ with relative success and being convicted for gang activities in 2013.
But in eight years, Xolane, son of a Nigerian father and South African mother, changed the story of his life, taking advantage of the circumstances surrounding his life.
The most important factor in his metamorphosis is none other than the willpower to chose a path.
In this regard, his prison experience was the ultimate catalyst. His worldview changed after reading “Losing My Virginity,” the Richard Branson biography, that set him on the path of entrepreneurship, which he started by investing in Binance, a crypto blockchain technology company, that in later years proved to be the proverbial goose that lays the golden egg. By 2020, his modest investment in Binance (BNB) was worth R1.3 billion, making him one of the few successful crypto blockchain investors in Africa.
Education also played a role in his extraordinary metamorphosis. From a poorly educated young man, Xolane Ndhlovu took himself back to school and earned, in commendable fashion, a diploma in Media Management, a bachelor’s degree in Economics, and a Master in Business Administration from Georgia Institute of Technology.
But by and large, it is his entrepreneurship knack that set him apart from his peers.
Modelling his business enterprise after Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, he founded UMEH Group, a R500 million company and by 2020 merged it with DafriGroup PLC, a giant conglomerate, headquartered in South African, but with no less than 20 subsidiaries―including DafriTechnologies, UMEH, DafriBank Digital, DafriXchange Africa, and OMAHA Hotels―across four African countries and the UK.
In 2021, Xolane Ndhlovu, combining philanthropy with his business genius, has become one of the new breed of role models for the new generation of Africans, a hero to many and a business oracle to a multitude.