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Triumph That Came After The Tears

Abandoned by his parents and abused by his family, Thulani Khoza had a traumatic childhood. It steeled him to start his own company and make his own smartphone.

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Thulani Khoza, a smartphone manufacturer, grew up hungry with no parents and was sexually abused. He endured it all to build his own company, Thules Telecoms.

Soon after he was born, in the east of Johannesburg, his parents abandoned him. This cruel twist of fate saw Khoza move to Bushbuckridge, a small poor town in Mpumalanga, to stay with his grandmother.

“Growing up was hard. I would walk to school and back by foot. On hot days I’d feel the heat on my feet and when it rained it poured on me. And when I get home I’d find that my aunts had only reserved food for their children,” says Khoza.

The odds were stacked against him and it was about to get worse. Khoza says a cousin raped him leaving physical and emotional scars.

“I have an operation on my manhood. It’s gets painful every winter season and it’s a reminder of what happened,” he says.

As if that was not enough, later that year, he survived two accidents; one put him in hospital for six months. Khoza was alone and cold in a world of suffering.

“It was a difficult time in my life, so much so that I tried to commit suicide five times.”

The scars on Khoza’s body tell the story of his anguish.

“I was burned by iron. I had hot water thrown over my body by family members,” says Khoza, as tears well up his eyes.

The 30-year-old entrepreneur has a soft shaky voice but he is tough.

In those lean days his hunger for a better life kept him going. After completing matric, he moved back to Johannesburg to stay with a relative. But death was at the door; the cousin died. This left Khoza to fend for himself.

“After his death I felt lonely and I had no place to call home. So I ended up sleeping at church. The security guard would give me his jacket to use as a blanket.”

Khoza was not to be beaten.

His love for technology saw him take on a degree in computer science from the University of the Witwatersrand. Here, he also slept in lecture halls.

“I would wake up at 4AM so that other students would not see that I was sleeping in the class,” he says.

Khoza had to rely on others to pay for his fees. His church raised money to cover his first year and a bursary from MTN allowed him to complete his degree.

Surviving was not easy but he somehow managed to.

While studying, Khoza would fix people’s computers and laptops to earn extra money and his love for technology grew.

He followed his degree up with a couple of post-graduate degrees, including an Honors in Software Engineering from the University of Nottingham, in Britain, and a Master’s in business administration at Baker University in the United Sates.

Soon after completing his studies, Khoza was hired as a system analyst for South Africa’s public broadcaster, the SABC. He then left the broadcaster to join cell phone giant MTN.

“I became restless in spirit and mind,” he says.

Khoza wanted to be his own boss.

In 2008, he created his own Android-powered smartphone, which he says will boast greater security in the technology industry.

“It lets the user encode the phone. It makes the phone 99.9 percent secure,” says Khoza.

The app, exclusive to the phone for now, will help up-and-coming entrepreneurs connect with others around the world and those already established, all via an electronic forum.

Thules Telecoms has 89 employees and has received orders from as far as the United States, Britain, Mexico, Portugal, and Ghana.

“People used to look at me like I was nothing, and because of that I told myself that one day I was going to be great and get the treatment that I deserve. Yes, I suffered in life, but I decided not to live my life in anger and bitterness because it can destroy you.”

“I’ve come to realize the fact that my parents abandoned me, they don’t owe me anything. Nobody owes me anything. I’m in charge of my own happiness,” says Khoza.

Despite the lemons that life throws at him, Khoza is able to make lemonade.

Entrepreneurs

From The Arab World To Africa

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Sheikha Hend Faisal Al Qassimi; image supplied

In this exclusive interview with FORBES AFRICA, successful Dubai-based Emirati businesswoman, author and artist, Sheikha Hend Faisal Al Qassimi, shares some interesting insights on fashion, the future, and feminism in a shared world.

Sheikha Hend Faisal Al Qassimi wears many hats, as an artist, architect, author, entrepreneur and philanthropist based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). She currently serves as the CEO of Paris London New York Events & Publishing (PLNY), that includes a magazine and a fashion house.

She runs Velvet Magazine, a luxury lifestyle publication in the Gulf founded in 2010 that showcases the diversity of the region home to several nationalities from around the world.

In this recent FORBES AFRICA interview, Hend, as she would want us to call her, speaks about the future of publishing, investing in intelligent content, and learning to be a part of the disruption around you.

As an entrepreneur too and the designer behind House of Hend, a luxury ready-to-wear line that showcases exquisite abayas, evening gowns and contemporary wear, her designs have been showcased in fashion shows across the world.

The Middle East is known for retail, but not typically, as a fashion hub in the same league as Paris, New York or Milan. Yet, she has changed the narrative of fashion in the region. “I have approached the world of fashion with what the customer wants,” says Hend. In this interview, she also extols African fashion talent and dwells on her own sartorial plans for the African continent.

In September, in Downtown Dubai, she is scheduled to open The Flower Café. Also an artist using creative expression meaningfully, she says it’s important to be “a role model of realism”.

She is also the author of The Black Book of Arabia, described as a collection of true stories from the Arab community offering a real glimpse into the lives of men and women across the Gulf Cooperation Council region.

In this interview, she also expounds on her home, Sharjah, one of the seven emirates in the UAE and the region’s educational hub. “A number of successful entrepreneurs have started in this culturally-rich emirate that’s home to 30 museums,” she concludes. 

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Kim Kardashian West Is Worth $900 Million After Agreeing To Sell A Stake In Her Cosmetics Firm To Coty

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In what will be the second major Kardashian cashout in a year, Kim Kardashian West is selling a 20% stake in her cosmetics company KKW Beauty to beauty giant Coty COTY for $200 million. The deal—announced today—values KKW Beauty at $1 billion, making Kardashian West worth about $900 million, according to Forbes’estimates.

The acquisition, which is set to close in early 2021, will leave Kardashian West the majority owner of KKW Beauty, with an estimated 72% stake in the company, which is known for its color cosmetics like contouring creams and highlighters. Forbes estimates that her mother, Kris Jenner, owns 8% of the business. (Neither Kardashian West nor Kris Jenner have responded to a request for comment about their stakes.) According to Coty, she’ll remain responsible for creative efforts while Coty will focus on expanding product development outside the realm of color cosmetics.

Earlier this year, Kardashian West’s half-sister, Kylie Jenner, also inked a big deal with Coty, when she sold it 51% of her Kylie Cosmetics at a valuation of $1.2 billion. The deal left Jenner with a net worth of just under $900 million. Both Kylie Cosmetics and KKW Beauty are among a number of brands, including Anastasia Beverly Hills, Huda Beauty and Glossier, that have received sky-high valuations thanks to their social-media-friendly marketing. 

“Kim is a true modern-day global icon,” said Coty chairman and CEO Peter Harf in a statement. “This influence, combined with Coty’s leadership and deep expertise in prestige beauty will allow us to achieve the full potential of her brands.”

The deal comes just days after Seed Beauty, which develops, manufactures and ships both KKW Beauty and Kylie Cosmetics, won a temporary injunction against KKW Beauty, hoping to prevent it from sharing trade secrets with Coty, which also owns brands like CoverGirl, Sally Hansen and Rimmel. On June 19, Seed filed a lawsuit against KKW Beauty seeking protection of its trade secrets ahead of an expected deal between Coty and KKW Beauty. The temporary order, granted on June 26, lasts until August 21 and forbids KKW Beauty from disclosing details related to the Seed-KKW relationship, including “the terms of those agreements, information about license use, marketing obligations, product launch and distribution, revenue sharing, intellectual property ownership, specifications, ingredients, formulas, plans and other information about Seed products.”

Coty has struggled in recent years, with Wall Street insisting it routinely overpays for acquisitions and has failed to keep up with contemporary beauty trends. The coronavirus pandemic has also hit the 116-year-old company hard. Since the beginning of the year, Coty’s stock price has fallen nearly 60%. The company, which had $8.6 billion in revenues in the year through June 2019, now sports a $3.3 billion market capitalization. By striking deals with companies like KKW Beauty and Kylie Cosmetics, Coty is hoping to refresh its image and appeal to younger consumers.

Kardashian West founded KKW Beauty in 2017, after successfully collaborating with Kylie Cosmetics on a set of lip kits. Like her half-sister, Kardashian West first launched online only, but later moved into Ulta stores in October 2019, helping her generate estimated revenues of $100 million last year. KKW Beauty is one of several business ventures for Kardashian West: She continues to appear on her family’s reality show, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, sells her own line of shapewear called Skims and promotes her mobile game, Kim Kardashian Hollywood. Her husband, Kanye West, recently announced a deal to sell a line of his Yeezy apparel in Gap stores.

“This is fun for me. Now I’m coming up with Kimojis and the app and all these other ideas,” Kardashian West told Forbesof her various business ventures in 2016. “I don’t see myself stopping.”

Madeline Berg, Forbes Staff, Hollywood & Entertainment

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Entrepreneurs

Covid-19: Restaurants, Beauty Salons, Cinemas Among Businesses That Will Operate Again In South Africa As Ramaphosa Announces Eased Lockdown Restrictions

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South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation announcing that the government will further ease the country’s lockdown restrictions.

Restaurants, beauty salons, cinemas are among the businesses that will be allowed to operate again in South Africa.

The country is still on lockdown ‘Level 3’ of the government’s “risk adjusted strategy”.

President Ramaphosa also spoke on the gender based violence in the country.

“It is with the heaviest of hearts that I stand before the women and the girls of South Africa this evening to talk about another pandemic that is raging in our country. The killing of women and children by the men of our country. As a man, as a husband, and as a father to daughters, I am appalled at what is no less than a war that is being waged against the women and the children of our country,” says Ramaphosa.

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