Driven by his determination to make a real impact on society, rather than just making loads of money and becoming another ‘celebrity entrepreneur’, 24-year-old Umhlanga business owner Muhle Ndwalane recently made it onto the exclusive Forbes Africa ‘30 under 30’ list.
Making it onto a shortlist that includes the continent’s brightest achievers under the age of 30 is a remarkable feat and a life-changing achievement. But this seems only to be the beginning for this determined and driven young ‘techpreneur’.
As the owner and founder of Asante Solutions – an Umhlanga-based digital marketing and tech agency – Muhle’s ultimate goal is to bridge the digital divide in South Africa and formulate unique solutions that suit our local market.
Originally from Port Shepstone, Muhle completed his schooling at Adam’s College boarding school in Amanzimtoti, where he was a good student and an even better soccer player. “I came from a middle-class family and was really lucky to get into the school. When my family ran out of funds for my last two years, my soccer club stepped in and covered my accommodation fees.”
Muhle got his first taste of entrepreneurship after he started helping his brother (an architect) with some digital work and began playing around with technology. “I taught myself how to do different designs and logos on T-shirts and then started selling these at taxi ranks and on the beaches in the holidays. While everyone was partying around me, I was working.”
Muhle had a natural knack for, and understanding of, both business and technology from a young age and he very quickly became passionate about both.
After school, Muhle decided he wanted to study computer science, but with only 58% for maths (he needed 60%), he wasn’t accepted right away. Unwavering in his determination though, he convinced UKZN to accept him as a B Com student for the first semester and then, based on his marks, allow him to pursue computer science. Of course, he knocked it out of the park and now holds a degree in Information Systems and Technology, with a second major in Supply Chain Management.
Amongst his biggest achievements to date though, Muhle says, was his involvement with the Enactus World Cup. Enactus is an international non-profit organisation that arranges social entrepreneurship project competitions for university students around the world.
Being a part of the organisation not only exposed him to and taught him about international practices and ideas, but also sparked his passion for finding ways to address socio-economic challenges in the community.
In 2018, Muhle was chosen to represent UKZN in the Enactus World Cup in California’s Silicon Valley in the USA. “It was amazing to be exposed to the incredible people and businesses over there. I returned more ambitious, driven and determined than ever.”
Over the next two years, Muhle served as the executive president of the Enactus group, where he not only pioneered their Covid-19 response solution (which won a global award), but also represented South Africa at an International Social Business Summer Programme in Bangladesh where he spent time with Nobel Prize winner Professor Muhammed Yunus (who founded the Grameen Bank).
“The international exposure I’ve had has allowed me to fully understand the digital divide in South Africa and I’m determined to put solutions that suit our African context into practice. We have a number of our own continent-specific challenges and the result is that there is not much innovation happening in Africa. I want to find ways to innovate existing concepts to make them relevant to us.”
Having started his business with making logos and helping people with brand development and digital presence (and even, very successfully, selling perfume on campus, which he says he did to polish up his ‘people skills and gain confidence), Muhle made the decision to take Asante Solutions to the next level when he qualified.
“I could either go for a corporate job or focus on growing my business. My qualifications and the connections I’ve made meant I could probably have walked into a really good position at a top corporate and start earning great money straight away, but I decided to go the entrepreneurship route instead,” he says. “My aim is to advance our youth and find solutions offered by South Africans and African agencies. I want to inspire young people and be a reflection of what is possible. I don’t believe you have to have grey hair to succeed in this industry. The youth are entirely capable of being the ones who tap into the digital economy and drive it.”
Being chosen as one of Forbes Africa’s ‘top 30 under 30’, Muhle says, has been a great validation and testament that the business is moving in the right direction. “It’s pushed us to challenge ourselves even more, think bigger and set more ambitious goals.”
Partnering and working with some of the top businesses in the country, Muhle and his Asante Solutions team deliver creative digital transformation solutions for brands, with expertise in digital marketing, brand development, drone technology, systems development and data analytics.”
BY LEAH SHONE | EDITOR - GET IT
26TH AUG 2022