Kealeboga Pule | Nungu Diamonds
I began to think about starting my own business in my last year of high school and, in my third year of university, was introduced to diamonds. That was when I found my mentor. It was a Tuesday morning when I took a bus from Mafikeng to Johannesburg, and it was the last time I left home without knowing what I was going to do with my life.
My mentor picked me up from the bus stop and we went to his house where we chatted. He offered me an internship and so began my exposure to the world of diamonds. My mentorship lasted for two years. During that time, I took notes on every aspect of the industry and, later, my mentor encouraged me to assist in making executive decisions. For me, this signalled that it was time to step up and start my own business.
Founding Nungu Diamonds did not come without its challenges. I felt like I was taking a leap of faith but I also had a strong conviction in my dreams. While I was interning, I had been introduced to all the right people so I knew where to go and who to speak to about the fundamentals of my business. However, my family was resistant to the idea of my new journey as they believed that the path of entrepreneurship was too risky. (My parents thought I’d make a fantastic lawyer.) Starting a new business without the support of my family was very hard. Despite this, I received a second internship of one year during which I learned how to operate the business on a more competitive level, and developed a more practical understanding of the industry.
After three years of operating, I started to realise that I needed assistance with certain elements of the business. During this time, I heard about Raizcorp on the radio and it really struck a chord. A few weeks later, I ran into someone who told me a bit more about the company and how it could benefit me. As fate would have it, that’s when De Beers started talking to me about an incubator that helped small companies. I was lucky enough to receive an invitation by De Beers to take part in Raizcorp’s selection process. I made a presentation to the Purple Panel which I failed. The panellists didn’t believe I had the chops to make it, which I found very disappointing. I then asked De Beers if there was any way they could fit me into the programme. To my surprise, they gave me a three-month probation period after which I had to make a second presentation to the Purple Panel. This time, I made it through and so began my journey with Raizcorp.
With everything I have gone through, I am the better for it. I am a better husband and I relate to my family better. I used to be quite impatient and set in my ways, but now I am much more open minded. I have experience significant personal growth and am more comfortable with who I am. I now have very clear messages I want to communicate, messages that reflect what I stand for. I sell better by being me and I know that I don’t have to pretend to be someone else.
Thank you, De Beers and Raizcorp!