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The Steve Jobs of Duduza?

Griffiths Sibeko had to choose between studying and working. He chose to work and hopes the apps he is developing will end the struggle he and his mother have endured.

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He grew up in grinding poverty; his mother went hungry to feed the family. At university he was so hungry that he disguised himself as a lecturer just for a free lunch. Years later, his determination and curiosity turned him into a genius in the world of innovative disruption; this is the life and story of Griffiths Sibeko, an app developer from Duduza, one of South Africa’s poorest shanty towns.

“I remember one day attending an inauguration of a professor and when I heard there was lunch and dinner I had to rush to the student residence to change into formal clothes so I look qualified to be in the meeting. This would become my lifestyle until I dropped out of school,” Sibeko says of the hungry road he has walked.

“I grew up in a one-bedroom house with three other family members. We were so poor that some days my mother would give us food while she went hungry,” he says during a break at the Riversands Incubation Hub Innovation Conference. At this conference, he was a delegate with an assured free lunch.

Sibeko’s inspiration in developing apps comes from the challenges his country is facing. He built an app for public transport users that gives information on routes, times, distance, fares, stops, stations and where tickets can be bought.

“I am working on building apps that bring calm when there is chaos, like in South Africa’s taxi industry. This field requires passion, if you are in it for money then you will struggle and will not last long,” he says.

But where did Sibeko’s love for apps come from?

“I was 11 years old when my curiosity for computers started. I would go the Zakheni Primary School every day after school to observe people using computers. On my third visit, the instructor called me and gave me access to a computer that would become the path to my new life.”

His mother did not allow him to spend time with his neighbors.

“She feared they would spoil the character she was developing in me. It is these moments I spent alone and in the library that I came across a book called Mistakes That Worked. This book inspired me to explore more,” says Sibeko.

The man from Duduza felt he should share some of his knowledge to the next generation of computer wizards and enrolled for a degree in education at the University of Johannesburg.

“After a year, I realized it was not my thing and I dropped out,” he says. But, it was not over for Sibeko.

“I enrolled the following year for a degree in information management. I realized through this course I would get access to do courses in informatics and programming. After a year, I could not sustain studying as I was struggling financially,” says Sibeko.

As the year wound down, Sibeko left university. Through a hackathon challenge, organized at an aeroplane hangar, Sibeko would soon start solving problems he thought were within human reach. It was here where he developed the Rea Vaya app.

“Microsoft had advertised some fellowship towards the end of the year. I was told I had been accepted. I had to choose between continuing with school and working my way out of poverty.”

After this, Sibeko was set. He went on to win the MTN Apps Challenge in 2014. He says innovation should respond to the needs of the community.

“It is important for African app developers to devise solutions for people in their communities. I am working on developing apps for low-income earners,” he says.

Sibeko is working on yet another project.

“An app that seeks to expand how individuals can make new discoveries based on their environments. Finding hidden gems in familiar or unfamiliar places,” he says.

To achieve his dreams, Sibeko says he will have to put in a lot of hard work with many sleepless nights.

It is true; there is no such thing as a free lunch.

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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