Excellence at the Centre of Business Mogul Ngobeni’s Success

By Hosea Ramphekwa

That shrewd entrepreneur Charles Ngobeni means business about excellence became evident a few minutes after settling at our rendezvous. 

The lady, assigned to our table at a restaurant inside Mall of Africa, errs and Ngobeni swiftly and gently corrects her for a service deemed below par. Admitting to her faults, the lady is quick to apologize but Ngobeni offers a short lecture on the importance of rendering excellent service before accepting her apology. 

“If I walk into a restaurant, I need great service. If I don’t get it, I will not complain because of money. I will ask and interrogate. Some of the people in restaurants are taught to apologize. An apology is not good enough. People give an apology just to dismiss me. Everything is ‘I am sorry’ but you are not answering my questions. I don’t need that quick apology. I need the stuff to be fixed,” 

says Ngobeni, who owns a chain of Wimpy franchises.  

“If the business is successful, she will probably have a longer employment term and they will even pay her better. If the business is struggling, it doesn’t matter how good the owner is, if he doesn’t have money, he will have to close the business and she will be out of a job. That’s why excellent service is important.” 

It was Ngobeni’s excellence and work ethic that led him to establish himself as a business mogul. Ngobeni wears several hats – taxi boss, investor, philanthropist, pastor, author, TV talk show host, mentor, beauty products manufacturer, and restaurant owner. Through his companies, Ngobeni hires close to 350 people. Ngobeni reveals some of the lessons that have kept him going in business.  

“When I bought my first restaurant in Giyani years ago, the man who sold me, told me that money is not at the till. Never stay on the till. Go at the back of the house and make sure that everything is great. When everything is great at the back of the house, the till will keep on ringing on its own,” 

says Ngobeni. 

For the past 30 years, the till has been clicking as Ngobeni’s businesses grew in leaps and bounds. He has since ventured into various industries. Though Ngobeni is a highly successful businessman, it was not a walk in the park as he had to overcome many obstacles in order to make the grade. 

“When I started teaching, I didn’t have clothes. I had to borrow clothes from my friends. It was hard. At Technicon, I didn’t receive any cent from home. I had to get piece jobs. I worked as a photographer. I had to wash students’ cars at Medunsa. I had to work at a dry clean at the weekend. During the school holidays, I had to help my uncle in his businesses and little did I know that I was also learning. I made mistakes in their businesses and when I started my own businesses, I made a few mistakes. It’s hard but we keep on working every day,” says the chairperson of Giyani Taxi Association. 

With unemployment rate escalating in South Africa, Ngobeni says there’s a need for people to think outside the box, beyond employment. 

“South Africa has a lot of mineral wealth, a lot of resources and a lot of money. People who are broke are not broke because they don’t have money. They are broke because they lack business ideas. Anybody with a great idea will have money by tomorrow. It’s just a pity that we all need to be employed because you want security. And it’s not right. The Bible puts it clear that a wise man lives an inheritance for his children’s children. And I want to believe that you can’t pass a job as an inheritance. All you need is great and creative ideas. There’s enough wealth in South Africa, which has not been tapped. We just need to wake up,” says the author of two books – Footprints Of A Legend and Unlocking The Success Code. 

The Wits University and University of Limpopo graduate say those aspiring to do well in business and life should consider taking the route of mentorship. 

“Mentorship is not cheap. You must invest your time and money in pursuing a mentor. There’s nobody who is well rounded. You need to get a marital mentor, a spiritual mentor, a business mentor and get a mentor in every area of your life,” says Ngobeni.


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Charles Ngobeni


Wits University

University of Limpopo


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