Limpopo has seen numbers of immigrant business people from other parts of the African continent contributing to its economic development. While some import cheap labour from their home countries, many absorb local people into their labour pool, leading to job creation and imparting skills.
As the country observes Africa Day, Nigerian businessman, Ayodele Ogunrinde, who works and lives in Thohoyandou, has committed himself to empowering local communities.
Ogunrinde has 18 offices across Limpopo and Mpumalanga which offer funeral and insurance services.
The 45-year-old father of four is married to a South African national. He is appealing to other business people who are foreign nationals to support the communities they work and live in.
He says as an African man whose children are mostly exposed to their mother’s Tshivenda culture, he has taken it upon himself to ensure that his children are in touch with their roots, by teaching them about their Yoruba customs and culture.
“I go home, even the wife she goes more than me, if I go three times, she goes there six times, the kids go home, they know that they are Nigerian, their names are Nigerian names. I make them understand that they are Nigerian but they are also South African. When they are at school they speak all the languages, they started going home like five years ago,” he says.
Ogunrinde, who has about 50 employees, says he is committed to empowering the communities that he operates in.
“We are not building a business that we will just pack up tomorrow and leave, my wife whom I started business with is from Venda, the kids are Venda. It’s not in our plan that we will pack and leave, right now we are sitting on 18 branches across the country, we have kids that we are sponsoring at school, everywhere we have office we extend [a] hand to the people there.”
Meanwhile, Clive Dzhivhuwo and Thiambelwi Liphadzi, Ogunrinde’s employees in Thohoyandou, say they are learning business skills from him.
“I’m happy to work with him, since I started to work for this company under his umbrella, I’m learning a lot of things. I thought I know how to run business but since I started with him as COO I know that now I can handle every single situation in business. He is putting bread to my family and I’m happy about it. I am happy he is treating us like brothers and sisters here at Midey.”
As the continent observes Africa Day, Ogunrinde has a word of advise regarding tolerance among Africans.
“Even in Nigeria, it is there this Nigerian are this, Nigerians are that, it’s okay, because you cannot change who you are, this stigma is there but I don’t look at it. I am married to a South African, in Venda, I have a family here, my family-in-law take me as one of their son. And my employees I have met their families, they are like brothers and sisters so the stigma is being generalised, there is nothing we can do about it,” he says.
Ogunrinde is also involved in philanthropic work around the country. He built a house for a family in Malamulele after their home was damaged in the floods earlier this year. He also assists a number of university students with funds.