Dumisani Lingamangali Ncube is a Zambian Youth who believes so much in entrepreneurship and is going out of the way to have many more Africans engage in it as it is the only way to Economic Liberation.
- What are some of your key accomplishments, awards, achievements and positions in your line work and leadership? (Awards, recognitions, positions and responsibilities)
I have led DLN Technologies to achieve growth and performance that earned us some awards including : awards amongst
- Zambian Entrepreneur of the year 2018,
- Customer Service Business Leadership Award 2018
- Evolis Business performance Award 2016,
- Customer Commitment Award (SME) 2018,
- Most Customer focused organization: ICT and Technology Services 2018.
There are three companies that I am involved in.
● DLN Technologies Ltd is a tech company, which deals in PVC Smart card printers and printing, Access control technologies, integration software, and Smart security technologies.
● Aduq Investments Ltd is a construction company specialized in Buildings and Civil works.
● Gladtidings Software Ltd is a software company with great innovative products like Gladtidings E-School (the most used school management system in Zambia) and Coinfomas (a college management system) amongst other innovations.
When and why did you start your entrepreneurship journey?
My entrepreneurial endeavours have been quite vast. I started off my entrepreneurship journey in grade nine at Matero Boys secondary school selling pamphlets to supplement my needs. Through my teen years I ran a Kiosk (Kantemba), traded bicycles for goats, imported blankets and clothes from Botswana and South Africa. With time and growth I explored bigger ventures like transport and agriculture and now I am in Technology and construction.
I formed DLN Technologies Ltd late in 2014 after noticing that as a country we were still using old technologies especially in identity. Infact it was on similar grounds that we (with two other friends) formed Gladtidings Software Ltd in 2010 to help automate how Schools are run. Finding solutions for challenges faced has been one of the greatest drives towards business.
What have been the highlights of your journey so far?
My first highlight was in mid 2013 when our School management system was adopted by over half of the Secondary Schools in Zambia. This gave me a sense of inner satisfaction as we saw how we revolutionized operations in schools, in addition to the financial breakthrough.
In 2013 DLN Zambia Motors Ltd was born when I was 23. Owning and running a transport company at such an age was interesting and exciting but it had its own interesting challenges. I remember once when one of my drivers was in trouble with the Traffic Officers, they told him to call his boss (owner of trucks). The Officer really got furious when I went to meet him with the driver saying “I told you to call the owner, not the son to the owner!” It had to take me presenting my driver’s license to prove that DLN are my initials and that the word Lingamangali written on the truck is actually my middle name.
It has been my pleasure being part of the solution for the challenges faced around me. As a result working has been like playing chess for fun. Growing my workforce to 300 has been so fulfilling because it gave me an indication of how we can positively impact our communities.
My journey has had its own challenges. With all of the businesses I have run, I have almost always experienced some setback or another.
In 2010 when I was buying and selling blankets and clothes from South Africa, I was attacked and robbed of my capital behind Park Station Johannesburg. The only cash that survived was in my inner pocket but please don’t ask me ‘which one?’ hahaha.
In the 2012/2013-rain season, I invested in a commercial scale tomatoes farm project with my great friend Mukelabai Mukelabai. During the reaping time, we could pick 1000 crates a week; in a sad twist of events a crate of tomatoes dropped from $20 down to 7c!That 7c could only cover the transport cost to the market - it was great loss.
My lowest moment however was tied to my transport business. On 24th August 2014the driver for the newly added Volvo FH12 was involved in a tragic accident as he was driving from Siavonga to Kafue with 600 bags of FRA maize, and had ostensibly overloaded with 8 people. Just after the truck flipped, residents looted the maize, batteries, fuel etc while people were still trapped in the wreckage. I really praise God that no one died in that accident that would have possibly claimed all lives on board as could be seen from the wreckage but it was definitely one of the hardest experiences I had to deal with.
I had 8 badly injured people in hospital in need of care and compensation, I had lost over 500bags of Government maize through looting and spilling, I had written a post-dated cheque for the 22 tires for the truck and each was costing $300 and the worst form of negligence on my side was that the truck was not comprehensively insured at its value meaning I had to meet all the expenses from my pocket! To make it worse FRA could not pay me then for the services I had rendered previously, this seriously chocked my liquidity. This pushed me in a corner and I decided to sell everything and paid all concerned parties like compensating families of badly injured people, tyres, fuel providers etc, in short, in a single tragedy, I simply lost everything I worked hard for.
Being a Professional Certified accountant, I had family and friends calling for me to seek employment as a way of having a secured income but I was psychologically prepared to succeed despite all these drawbacks.
I have had many other low moments like when a close friend I was working with betrayed me by going behind my back to take over the dealership I so much depended on under my company.
What are the areas that you think present real dangers and struggles for young people in terms of starting and scaling their own businesses?
The challenge that we have as young people is the need for instant gratification and lack of hard work. A lot of my friends we set out with almost at the same time failed to go past a certain level because of lacking the two traits.
Everyone wants to be successful, unfortunately most people shun success because it is normally disguised in hard work. I should be quick to mention that, hard work doesn’t guarantee success but it improves the chances and note that Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.
I was born at a farm in a village setup, basically in a thatched house. I only saw and knew what electricity was when I was 10 years old. It was in a poor environment such that the poor called us poor. I grew up herding cattle after graduating from herding goats. I learnt the trait of hard work quite early.
When I mentioned that I traded bicycles and goats, it was around 2005 when I was a 15year old teen. I would buy an Eagle Bicycle from Lusaka and ride it down to our farm, which is about 40kms in Lusaka West down Makeni road. The following morning I would wake up around 4am and ride the same bike from our farm further west past Nampundwe mine to Shibuyunji District which is another 35kms to exchange the bike with an average of five goats per bike. By 10am the exchange would have been concluded leaving me with no bike but goats tied one to the other. Due to limited resources, I had to walk back with the goats to our farm. When I start off from Shibuyunji at 10am I would reach home past midnight. Goats would make me run from one side of the road to another for the first half of the journey and for the second half I would be literally pushing them because they would be tired. By the time I get home I would literally feel my heartbeat from under my feet, extremely tired but happy knowing that one day I will be a great entrepreneur and comforting myself that I was just passing through a refining and defining moment.
I will respond to this with a certain encounter I had the first time I travelled to Europe.
Despite having my Visa, when I got to Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris-France in 2015 I was held at the airport because the immigration officers were requesting for many more documents which were submitted when applying for the Visa while in Zambia. I explained that I could not get the Visa without the documents they were requesting for like bank statements, I even explained that it takes about 21days to get an EU passport because of the scrutiny we go through before getting a Visa. I opted to go to court instead of being deported to prove that I am an authentic business man. After spending nights at their security building, I was set free by the judge within few minutes of cross examination.
Many more Africans go through the same torture, I have come to believe that no matter how authentic a businessman you are, provided you are coming from poor countries like Zambia, you will have to face challenges because of prejudice. It’s like you are guilty until proven innocent. I have since decided that making it alone in Zambia and Africa is not the best, I will do what I can to let many more know how to climb the ropes of success locally through entrepreneurship. Once we succeed, as a country and Continent the world will respect us because the very places we struggle to apply for Visas, other citizens from successful countries do not have to apply for Visas.
I have since travelled and organized entrepreneurship conferences In Zambia and across Africa with the hope of building many more entrepreneurs. I Mentor, Network, dream and Work with those that are interested in making Africa great. My wish is to have many more people engage in entrepreneurship; as such I train and speak to a minimum of 100,000 people within and outside Zambia on entrepreneurship in addition to hundreds of thousands that I reach through my social media platforms like Facebook.
I believe entrepreneurship will change the trajectory of our continent; my dream is to start seeing very successful Zambians and indeed Africans taking up key sectors of their economies. We need to be in charge of our destiny.
It is interesting to have organized the biggest entrepreneurship Seminar in Zambia and the most attended on the Copperbelt province of Zambia
How do you manage a 24hours day to make all this fit in? Any special routines, habits or work practices? What do you do or avoid to get things done
My typical day starts at 4am and ends at 10pm. The first one and half hour after waking up I spend it reading before having some 30minutes of excising which leads me to shower. I am normally in the office by 7am an hour before reporting time and I am normally the last one to knock off having touched the three businesses. I then spend my last hour reading and reflecting on my day. I avoid unplanned appointments and for me every minute counts.
Who have been some of the most influential people in your life and what were your greatest learnings from them?
Strive Masiyiwa has been a major influence in entrepreneurship because I do relate pretty well with his background. His media posts have positively impacted me and I keep learning mainly from his Facebook page.
What do you believe to be the meaning and purpose of life and what is your part in all this?
I shall pass through this world but once. Any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer it or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.
When I am gone, I would like to be remembered as one who fought for economic liberation in my country and indeed my continent through entrepreneurship. I believe there is only one type of hero who can liberate us today: the indigenous African entrepreneur. We have no single government or foreign aid that has led to sustainable poverty eradication in any country world over. History has proved that poverty can be eradicated through relentless pursuit of entrepreneurship. As such entrepreneurs are National Assets that should be cultivated and motivated.
I will do the best that I can to have many more young Africans join entrepreneurship.
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Recommended books to reads?
For Self help: 7 habbits of highly effective people by Steven Covey
Business Strategy: Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne
Motivation and Inspiration: Become a better you by Joel Osteen
What would be your parting advice to help other young people who are struggling to get started and established on doing what they want to also do?
That life you dream of friends, that successful life you envision yourself in, I mean that life of powerful cars, big beautiful houses, fat bank accounts that allow you to travel the world whenever you decide to, yes that meaningful life…… I want you to know today that, that life you dream of, everyone dreams of it but it will only be enjoyed by those that are willing to OUT WORK, OUT IMPROVE, OUTPERFORM and UPHOLD EXCELLENCE.
So if you want that life; don’t just dream it, work hard for it.
It should be known also that the excuses we give for not being our best will one day expire because you cannot be 38 years old and keep saying I am an orphan, or 50 years old and keep giving your poor background as an excuse for not being your best. As such no one is given a bad life or a good life, you are just given life: it is up to you to make it good or bad