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Turning Dusty Spaces Into Green Gyms

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Tim Hogins’ concept of the outdoor gym is to make health and wellness accessible to all.

Tim Hogins was 11 and selling sweets on the streets when he would look longingly at the queues of people waiting to board the bus to the plush Sun City resort in South Africa.

It was a forbidden world of play and luxury and he was quietly determined to one day build one of his own everyone could access.

The former delivery boy and security guard who grew up in dusty Randfontein in South Africa is today the CEO of Green Outdoor Gyms (GOG), an outdoor health, wellness and lifestyle company growing in size.

A GOG lifestyle park in Lanseria, Johannesburg

When we meet him, the 39-year-old entrepreneur, who once sold koeksisters (sticky spicy treats), offers a table laden with sweets, savouries and fruit. Hogins helps himself to a slice of banana bread as he begins to tell his story.
“Growing up poor is actually a good thing. It gave birth to ambition, it gave birth to my desire to be successful,” he says.

READ MORE: From Painting Houses To Building A $1.95-Billion Development

“The outdoor gym concept was born because I saw kids doing push-ups and pull-ups in the park.”
Hogins’ parents died when he was in his 20s. “That is where the Tim Hogins story started,” he says.
He invested capital with a friend to launch his pet outdoor gym project. GOG’s first park was in the township of Soweto.

“GOG is for the everyday person who cannot afford commercial and expensive gyms. It also doesn’t hinder the high-earning people from using it. South Africa is a family-oriented country, and soon we will have people at the gyms from all walks of life,” he says.

To date, GOG has installed 388 outdoor gyms in South Africa. The company has built two lifestyle parks in Gauteng with a third to follow at the end of the year.

“The health and fitness industry is the largest in the world and it grows year-on-year. I saw an opportunity from a health and fitness perspective. People want to live longer, they want to live healthier so they spend money on health and fitness,” says Hogins.

Growing up, he was no stranger to entrepreneurship.

“My dad was trying to survive. We had a café. But as you know a café does not make much money. On the side, he tried to do some construction, and my mom, because of the circumstances, decided to sell too. All my life my parents were selling something. My mom sold koeksisters and cakes; she became a caterer. There were always people at my house buying something, be it sweets, be it toffee apples…We sold whatever,” he recollects.

In his quest to build outdoor wellness areas, many a time it meant turning dusty pieces of land into landscaped spaces.

“In many instances, we literally transformed a dumping site into an outdoor gym. One instance you see a dumping site and the next you see kids on swings and gym equipment all around,” he says.

Engaging the community, GOG also uplifts the areas it operates in.

With hopes to list on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange next year, Hogins will give his staff an opportunity to invest in his vision.

Entrepreneurs

The Foodies With A Drive For Business

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Two taxi commuters who went on to become friends and tenacious business partners selling gourmet cuisine out of a food truck.

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Billionaires

Abducted Tanzanian Billionaire Mo Dewji Returns Home

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Tanzanian billionaire entrepreneur Mohammed Dewji, who was abducted by unidentified kidnappers on October 11 in Dar es Salaam, has been released and has returned home safe.

 

In a statement released by MeTL group at 3.15AM today, the prominent businessman says: “I thank Allah that I have returned home safely, I thank all my fellow Tanzanians and everyone around the world for their prayers. I thank the authorities of Tanzania, including the Police Force for working for my safe return.”

The Tanzanian police have also released a video in which Dewji, dressed in a t-shirt and who looks visibly shaken and worn out, thanks his supporters.

Said a source who works closely with Dewji to FORBES AFRICA: “He was released in the middle of Dar es Salaam around 3AM today, unharmed, after which he ran to the nearest security guards who dropped him off home. He does not know who his abductors were. He was only taken about 20 minutes away from the city center, so he has been in Dar es Salaam since the abduction. He has no visible bodily harm with the exception of marks from the handcuffs.”
She also revealed that the abductors wanted ransom but let him go on account of the media hype around the kidnapping.

Dewji was on his way to a gym session at a luxury hotel in Oyster Bay, Dar es Salaam, in the early hours of October 11, when he was kidnapped by the masked gunmen.

Dewji’s family had earlier offered 1 billion Tanzanian Shillings ($436,674) to anyone who could help them find him.
Dewji, popularly known as “Mo” in Tanzania, is the CEO of MeTL active in textile manufacturing, flour milling, beverages and edible oils in eastern, southern and central Africa. He is also the main sponsor of football club Simba.
Dewji was featured on the cover of FORBES AFRICA in July 2013 and was named FORBES AFRICA’s Person of The Year in 2016. The 43-year-old single-handedly turned his father’s trading business into Tanzania’s largest import-export group.

Dewji’s personal networth is $1.5 billion, according to the Africa billionaires list released by FORBES earlier this year. He is also Africa’s youngest billionaire.

Dewji’s office has said it will release a personal address by Dewji “once he is settled”.

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Entrepreneurs

No Wasted Opportunities For Swazi Entrepreneur

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In the mountainous kingdom of eSwatini, a former pre-school helper is turning trash to treasure.

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