Having found a way to provide numerous employment opportunities to previously unemployed members from his immediate community in Pietermaritzburg, Siphiwe Ngcobo, founder of iLawu Hospitality Group, has been named Job Creator of the Year® at the Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS awards ceremony held in Johannesburg on 6 September 2017.
They say failure is the best learning opportunity, and this is especially true for this year’s Job Creator of the Year®. With the shadow of a couple failed business attempts in his past – including that of a tech business, which saw him blacklisted as a result – Ngcobo persevered in his entrepreneurial pursuit for success, and today runs a thriving hospitality business.
Having originally founded a humble five bedroomed bed and breakfast in August 2009, the business has since expanded to become one of the most well-recognised hospitality and catering brands in KwaZulu-Natal, encompassing a guesthouse, an inn, a boutique hotel and studio apartments. The group has also recently launched a 4-star lodge in Newcastle and a food service division which is servicing corporate, government and leisure events across the region.
Ngcobo’s hospitality entrepreneurial journey started in 2005 when he initially took the decision to start investing in property within the Imbali township after seeing an opportunity to make favourable returns given the low property prices at the time. However, after identifying the demand for quality, yet affordable accommodation in the area due to the vast number of major annual sporting and cultural events being hosted, he shifted his focus from rental property to holiday accommodation and hospitality after he found a property he felt would work well as a bed and breakfast.
With no hospitality training or experience, Ngcobo was determined to lead his business into success. Learning everything he now knows through practical, hands-on experience, Ngcobo gave his everything to the business and ran every aspect on his own from housekeeping and reception to general management and sales and marketing.
This never-give-up attitude finally paid off, and today, iLawu Hospitality Group employs close to 100 people across a diverse portfolio of accommodation offerings that cater to many different markets, from corporate and government, to leisure groups looking for quality facilities with exceptional services, to locals looking to host elite events.
The competition judges believe Ngcobo’s passionate and enthusiastic leadership has resulted in the business’ exponential growth since its inception in 2009. “Ngcobo’s business has tapped into the rural market and has enabled him to offer employment to individuals who may otherwise have remained unemployed and unskilled due to the lack of opportunities available in these areas. Because of this contribution to driving job creation in the country, Ngcobo is a worthy recipient of the Job Creator of the Year® title.”
Please visit www.ilawugroup.co.za for more information on iLawu Hospitality Group.