By Mbali Sibiya
Serial entrepreneur Yamkela Kiviet, 23, says he is so content with his life that he’s now at a stage where he wants to use his vast entrepreneurial experience to support other young people’s businesses.
Kiviet, who lives in the affluent Johannesburg suburb of Fourways, but is originally from Mount Frere in the Eastern Cape, owns a string of upmarket restaurants, runs a private college and a student accommodation business, is a stock trader, owns a funeral parlour, and is studying towards his MBA at the Regenesys Business School.
The young venture capitalist already holds a bachelor of business administration degree from the same institution and hopes to get his MBA next year.
“I started venturing into business during my time at Maritzburg Christian School at the age of 17. I started an organisation called GMF to do events in order to raise funds for the less fortunate around Pietermaritzburg,” he says.
After matriculating in 2011, Kiviet came to Johannesburg and was enrolled at Regenesys Business School. “My real intention of coming to Joburg was to hustle. I felt my entrepreneurship goals would be more feasible in this city.”
He started a Christian magazine which failed and subsequently recorded a gospel album titled Revived which won the best praise album at the Independent National Gospel Music Awards in 2013.
“I realised that being a musician for me was a bypass route to become an entrepreneur. Music taught me the principle of hard work and sacrifice. It also gave the characteristic of being fearless,” he says.
Determined to pursue his goals, Kiviet registered an events company in 2013 which also dabbled in company registrations.
Then followed Melville Car Wash and Chesanyama, then Melville Grill Lounge, then Ibiza Sky Lounge in Pretoria East, and then Esibayeni Meat Lounge also in Melville.
“We are currently relocating this business to the Maboneng Precinct because its the new hip spot.”
Kiviet says he also established Ngoxolo Funeral Services in Pietermaritzburg in 2017.
“I realised that there is nothing wrong with having multiple streams of income in multiple industries. The reality of business is that seasons change,” says the tiny businessman who cruises around in a sleek BMW 520i.
His Oxford Private College is a Christian school offering grades 1 to 12 through the Cambridge system.
“I was approached by one of my business partners. They told me where the school was falling short, so I bought a majority stake in the school.” He doesn’t want to say how much stake he owns, saying cagily: “It’s something I’m content with. I’m pretty excited because education has always been one of the sectors I’ve always wanted to venture into.”
Kiviet now does a lot of incubation for an IT company Pure Codes started by a University of Johannesburg student, and a picnic events company Revelatory Affairs.
About his company’s expansion plans, he says: “I do have plans of expanding across the country. I think I’m at that stage where I want to empower other young people’s businesses. On April 26 I will be launching my book titled Suited for Change. I speak about things that are not popular, like not being able to pay your staff salaries. The book is speaking about the unspoken realities of entrepreneurship.”
Kiviet says the books that left an indelible mark on him are the Robert Kiyosaki classic, Rich Dad, Poor Dad; and Myles Munroe’s Unlocking Your Potential.
“If you think you want to be an entrepreneur and you’ve never read Rich Dad, Poor Dad, you are depriving yourself of secrets that could turn your dreams to cheques.”