Meet Sisa Ngebulana. He is the founder of Rebosis Property Fund, the first black-managed property fund to be listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSC). He is also the founder of Billion Group, a commercial and retail property developer.
Ngebulana was born and raised in Mthatha (in Eastern Cape province of South Africa) by his grandparents following the death of his father. He was taught at a very young age that success does not come on a silver platter. He was taught the importance of behaving well, being disciplined, purposeful and the almost responsibility of being accountable for his actions.
“At any given time, there were between 12 and 15 of us in the house, cousins, brothers and sisters, and we were all always working. Every day, my grandmother woke us up early and instructed us to find something to do. “‘You have two hands and two eyes,’ she’d say, ” he recollected in an interview with the Entrepreneur. “‘You’re blessed. Now go and use them.’ She gave us the tools to make something of ourselves, but it was up to us to use them. “
With these principles, Sisa launched his first company, a trucking and transport company, which failed. He said he built the business up quickly while he was doing his articles at a law firm in Cape Town. By the time he was done with his articles of service, his trucking and transport company had reached a level where he decided to pursue it as a full-time job.
No sooner had he decided to pursue the trucking and transport business as a full-time job than his early success hit a snag. He had accumulated so much debt that he could not even pay his creditors. The challenges in his business soon began to affect his general well-being. According to him, he blacked out three times in a matter of weeks. Initially, his doctors thought it might be kidney stones.
“The second time, they decided the problem was my appendix, and they scheduled an appendectomy. I was still recovering from the operation when I had my third blackout. It was at that point that my aunt, who is a doctor, told me that my problem was stress. It was clear: it was the business or me. I had to make a choice,” he noted.
At the time, he owed the bank $50,000 (around 800,000 South African Rand). To settle his debt, he decided to auction off his trucks and get a job to start repaying the loan, which his bank turned down and gave him time to pay off the debt. Within 32 months, he settled his debt.
Aside from the challenges he faced operating a trucking and transport company, Sisa pursued other fields of endeavor until 2010, when he formed a company called Rebosis Property Fund. The following year, the company was listed on the JSE.
According to Entrepreneur, the company also became the first black-managed and held property company on the JSE, as well as the largest IPO in the property sector. Rebosis Property Fund and sister company Billion Group have an asset value of over $200 million and a market cap of around $180 million.
Building the first black company to be listed on the stock exchange did not come easy. Sisa faced multiple challenges but never gave up on his dreams. He faced sceptics and saboteurs but remained steadfast in his quest to achieve success.