Zunaid Moti, Chairman of the Moti Group, is unquestionably one of the most successful businessmen in South Africa. The story of his rise from humble beginnings to success is inspirational, and the advice he has to give on business and life should be taken on board by all entrepreneurs.
Moti grew up in a home where money was always tight. Moti would wash the school bus on weekends so that he and his sister could travel the 110 km round trip to and from school daily. Not one to focus on the negative and dwell in the past, Moti chuckles when recounting how, during one of his assignments, he had to choose a topic on which to write. He chose “When I am a millionaire, I will…”, his very succinct and indeed prophetic response being that he would “get my PA to write this for me”. Needless to say, he failed that assignment, but he has definitely succeeded in life. Through pure tenacity, a bit of cheekiness, and developing a deep relationship with his mentor, he made over R40 million from selling shares in a business just before his 22nd birthday.
Ultimately, Moti believes that an entrepreneur is someone who has been backed into a corner, with no options, and thus needs to make a plan in order to support themselves and their family.
That, according to Moti, is why entrepreneurship is rife in Zimbabwe, whereas for many, building entrepreneurship in South Africa, whilst an economic imperative, still isn’t a matter of life and death. Moti says that one of the biggest problems facing South African entrepreneurs is that even the great ones are not given the correct opportunities. In a working environment, the younger generation are full of ideas that could revolutionise their place of work, yet, Moti says, they are often shut down by the older, more conservative members of staff. Unfortunately, these are usually the managers of owners of the business. He, on the other hand, is adamant that in the Moti Group, innovative thinking and changing the paradigm is actively encouraged.
Moti is undoubtedly a family man. He gains great pleasure from seeing his children growing up in a very different lifestyle to him, and he values creating memories over anything else. Running through his schedule for the coming week is daunting, yet he insists on making time for his family. This is a non-negotiable. Sharing time with family is critical to retaining the balance between work and play. Creating memories should be the only focus of anyone’s life, as the adage goes: no-one lying on their deathbed wishes they had spent more time at the office.
Moti is a giver. He says nothing fills him with more pleasure than helping someone in need. This is evident in his social responsibility projects in Zimbabwe, where females are given the dignity of female specific healthcare. “Change your focus from receiving to one of giving and you will be astounded at the improvement in your own life,” he says.
Moti reiterates his passion for changing the lives of others: “When people are affected by fear and hate within themselves, their success cannot be guaranteed. Neither can it be guaranteed if you are too hard on or judgmental of yourself. Things often don’t work the first time: you need to have chutzpah, you win when you stand up every time thereafter. Don’t let people intervene with your personal mindset, and go all in. The part of actually walking the journey is the exciting part, so don’t be too focused on what’s next and enjoy the now. The true redemption is making a difference to the people who work for me and my family. If I can convert your hope into a reality, I have succeeded in this game we call life. Remember, it only takes on person to change the lives of many. Be that person.”