It is quite common to come across a typical South African business story couched in the following cliché: “100% black-owned.”
More often than not, disingenuous ventures disguised as authentic slip through the system. Too many unscrupulous entrepreneurs, or wannabe’s for that matter, are forever lurking in search of loopholes in the application of the BBBEEE legislation. No matter how hard the government tries to tighten the legal loose-ends, the spectre of the vultures looking to circle their prey is a real constant.
These thoughts came crushing on me at the recent launch of You FM in my home-town of Rustenburg in the North West province. Formerly known as North West FM, the newly renamed, rebranded and repositioned adult contemporary station is not only “100% black-owned”, it is actually over and above “100% black-run”.
Until then, the subtle obscurity between “ 100% black-owned” versus “100% black-run” seemed like just another mundane factor to care to take a good look into.
This wasn’t until Tebogo Pooe, a young entrepreneur I first encountered as one of the first presenters on the Soweto Community Radio in the early 1990s sat me down to explain. “Too many BEE business ventures collapse because many black people are too happy to be associated with the ownership of a business in which they have no clue about its operations on the ground.”
Pooe founded Motswako Media Group some 18 years ago and has spent most of his early years struggling to get the company to stand on its feet. However, once the storms were over he began to focus on his first love – radio. His company, he says, was excited to pounce on the opportunity to lay their hands on the now-defunct North West FM some 24 months ago.
At the beginning of this year, Pooe’s determination to ensure little or no failure in his new venture saw him relocate from Johannesburg to Rustenburg so that he could be hands-on in the running of the station.
“Changing the name of the station was my top priority. The old name had its own baggage. It was a heavy monkey to carry on my bag. Many stake-holders wanted to have little or nothing to do with the old name. Hence our reincarnation as You FM. You can say we’ve been born again lol,” Pooe says.
What grabbed my attention the most about the affable man’s story is knowing that I saw him at the entry-level of broadcasting to the pinnacle of media ownership, a rare feat achieved by few. He has moved from the dusty streets of Meadowlands, Soweto to the rarefied atmosphere of the economic heart-beat of the North West province.
Already, Pooe is unearthing raw talent of prospective broadcasters by running competitions in which budding radio announcers are invited to feature in the station, and the listeners vote for their favourite presenters. “The name of our station is ‘You’. We hold the listener in high esteem. It’s about them. It’s a business model I learned a long time ago: Build genuine partnerships,” he says.
Indeed, the youths in and around the platinum belt have reason to bask in the glory of early Christmas joy. In Pooe, they have someone who has been able to pull himself up by his boot-straps. He is a role model of note. I can attest to his rags-to-riches story. Not a “here you are” familiar story disguised as black empowerment. Here is a story of a man who gets his hands dirty, leading from the front. A truly uplifting post-apartheid story that deserves sharing and praise