Tech-savvy entrepreneur cashes in on talent

07 February 2018 | Web Article Number: ME20188593

Business Tech
SMME Development & Support

TECHNOLOGY fanatic, Simangaliso Austin Zungu, always knew he was destined to make his mark in the specialised and highly competitive world of technology and innovation.

Zungu is the founder and Group MD of Sengwayo Group based in KwaMbonambi near Richards Bay in northern KwaZulu-Natal. The entrepreneur is currently working on a major project to develop a breakthrough technology - a mobile power harvester for mobile devices.

Out of 198 entries, Zungu’s cutting-edge invention won the second special award at the Inkunz’isematholeni Youth in Business Awards recently. He is developing the PoEX Module, a highly efficient Power Extending Module.

It is designed to be built into cell phones and tablets for a continuous harvested and eco-friendly power on-the-go. Mobile communication devices are charged without having to connect to a centralised power source or to any portable power banks.

Inkunz’isematholeni is a flagship programme of Ithala Development Finance Corporation that attracts youth with innovative and sustainable business concepts and provides incubation and start-up in their journey to becoming seasoned entrepreneurs.

The 34-year-old father of two explained how his passion for entrepreneurship developed from his childhood. “Since high school, my passion and interests were already navigated - either I enrol for a BTech in Clinical Technology or become an entrepreneur in the technology and innovation space,” said Zungu.

A year after he matriculated at Mbusowabathethwa High School in KwaMbonambi, he obtained a certificate in Point-of-Sale from Empangeni Commercial College. Due to financial constraints beyond his control, Zungu requested permission to complete the three-month course in one month in order to cut down on commuting costs. His goal was realised through sheer hard work and dedication.

In 2003, he volunteered his time at the Centre for Education and Enterprise Development (CEED), now known as the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA). He facilitated basic introduction to computers classes and organised career guidance workshops for high school learners.

From 2005 to 2006, he worked at the Durban ICC as a Technical Administrator during which time he came into contact with prominent entrepreneurs and successful businessmen.

After responding to an advertisement calling on applicants to enroll for environmental management training at the Institute for Zero Waste in Africa (IZWA), Zungu received a call a few days later to write an introductory test. So impressed was the National Co-ordinator of the Institute with his results that he was appointed as a facilitator as opposed to a trainee.

While at IZWA, Zungu enrolled for a New Venture Creation Programme NQF Level 4 where he developed a plan to outsource and market an "i-Note Pen" which resembles and functions like a standard pen. The pen comes equipped with a receiver. When writing using this pen, the receiver captures all handwritten notes which it then converts to a computerised format, thereby eliminating the need to re-type on a computer.

While the pen was outsourced from Britain and not his novel creation, the device was supplied to major law firms, courts, departments of the eThekwini Municipality and offices of the MEC's in KwaZulu-Natal.

“Certainly correspondences of support for the product from the KZN courts and MEC’s offices which resulted in a bulk order was a highlight for me as an aspiring entrepreneur wanting to make a mark in the technology industry,” said Zungu.

Zungu regards himself as a futurist and an inventor. He has been working on the PoEX Module concept for the past two years and prides himself in handling all aspects of his business. He believes seeing his dream gradually coming to fruition is his primary motivator to further his ambitions.

“The project costs about R2.5 million for product development (working prototype); IP protection and marketing. This is where Ithala and programme partners, Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) and Invotech stepped in to assist,” added Zungu. 

When asked if he would recommend Ithala to anyone, Zungu said: “Definitely, I am most impressed with Ithala for creating a platform where emerging and aspiring entrepreneurs in the space of technology and innovation can present their innovative and sustainable solutions.”

On his ability to create job opportunities, he said: “Entrepreneurship is a key lever to job creation in any country. I am looking forward to joining forces with major cell phone and tablet manufactures to create much needed job opportunities.”  

Driving SMME and cooperative development over the next five years in line with its mandate to promote development is one of the key strategic goals of Ithala.

Zungu acknowledged his friends in his entrepreneurial journey: “They are professionals. I strongly believe that if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be where I am today. They steered me in the right direction and I opened myself to learning from them.” 

Ithala’s Business Finance portfolio caters for small and medium industrial and commercial businesses as well as agricultural enterprises, tourism ventures, co-operatives and building contractors.  

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