One man’s journey to finding success – his way. By Ncumisa Makhonjwa
Godfrey Madanhire knows just how difficult it is to move from hardship to making something of your life. It all started when he left his home town of Marondera in Zimbabwe for Johannesburg in 2000, after a friend invited him to take up a teaching post. That, however, didn’t quite work out as planned.
So Godfrey found himself in a foreign country, unemployed and struggling to find work. In an instant, all his fantasies of how easy it would be to get a better life in South Africa were shattered. ‘I believed that when I came to South Africa, everything would be easy,’ he recalls.
With his money dwindling fast, Godfrey was ready to settle for anything – which turned out to be selling insurance policies door-to-door. It only took a year for him to be promoted to a managerial position. So began his journey of empowerment.
THE ROAD LESS TRAVELLED
After seeing how well he performed as a manager, his employers decided to move him down to Cape Town, where he started as a branch manager. He did
so well at this new position, he opened 11 branches for the company between 2001 and 2006.
Life was going well for Godfrey, but despite his achievements, he still felt he could do more. This desire led to him leaving his comfortable, secure job to start his own business, much to the dismay of some friends and family. Even though his loved ones didn’t have much confidence in his entrepreneurial pursuit, he chased his goal. ‘I felt that if I could start something on my own, I could make a difference in the lives of more people.’ That’s exactly what he did.
INSPIRED TO INSPIRE
After leaving his job, Godfrey started Dreamworld Promotions, a company that provides motivational and life skills to businesses and individuals through life coaching, as well as motivational talks. The inspiration behind taking this route in business was the need to make a difference in people’s lives.
‘I had guys who walked into my office with no shoes on because they couldn’t afford to buy any. You work with them and help to build them and then they become an asset to your business, and they grow, and three years later they are buying their own flat and dressing well – they can even send money home.’
For him, the simple act of inspiring someone to realise their full potential is gratifying. ‘There’s no way I could’ve achieved all of that if I kept working for someone else,’ he says.
Dreamworld Promotions may be doing well these days, but it was by no means an overnight success. He was starting a company from scratch and with little to no guidance on how to handle the challenges. ‘There was no one I could ask about problems I was experiencing, so it was trial and error,’ he recalls.
He not only was an inexperienced entrepreneur, but also struggled to get funding from banks because he wasn’t a South African citizen. And because his company was offering something novel (CD subscriptions that he gave to businesses for motivational talks and life coaching), it wasn’t easy to convince investors to buy into his idea.
Another challenge he faced was a legal battle with his previous employer, with whom he had a restraint of trade agreement that prevented him from starting a business. The battle cost him a lot of money, but in the end, he paid the fine and for the next two years he worked tirelessly to turn his company into a reputable establishment.
AN ADVOCATE FOR DREAMS
Having run Dreamworld Promotions for a number of years, Godfrey sees the value of entrepreneurship as a way to create opportunities, especially in a job climate where graduates struggle to find employment. ‘Entrepreneurship helps to reduce unemployment, not just because it gives the entrepreneur an income, but because they’ll also start to create jobs for other people,’ he says. ‘And it also gives you a chance to do something you love.’
What’s Godfrey’s advice for people who want to start their own business? ‘Do it! Go for something you’ll be able to drive yourself with and something you will be able to create solutions for when problems leap out at you. It’s not easy, but it can be done,’ he says.