By Zaakirah Cachalia

Zareef Minty of Klerksdorp in the North West province is a social entrepreneur passionate about advancing and transforming the continent’s economic and social progress. He is shaking up South Africa’s business landscape and leaning into the future through various ventures. Founder and CEO of ZRF Holdings which is a multidimensional company holding various subsidiary companies ranging from fashion to education, media, remote-working and technology, Zareef is working hard at powering sustainable transformation in South Africa. Not only is he an accomplished entrepreneur, but he is also a qualified lawyer, thought leader, best-selling author, former politician, and a Forbes 30 under 30 member. Even amid these many accomplishments, Zareef has proven that he has not peaked here as he continues to live and work at the edge of his capabilities. IRTIQA caught up with him to gain further insight into what he is doing and why he is doing it.

With the path to success within the entrepreneurial domain being a result of hard-work, perseverance, and constant reinvention, Zareef who has discipline and time-management down to an art, begins his day at 3 AM with prayer, goal-planning and positive affirmation. He emphasises the power of a positive mindset and uses the first hour of the morning to elevate his day. He states that the strong inner drive, vitality, and motivation inherent to his lifestyle is fuelled by prayer.

Not only does Zareef exude a great deal of positivity, but gratitude as well. He states that:

“Gratitude for me is linked to the simplest things such as having a bed to sleep in or that God has given me the ability to understand concepts of ambition, hard work, and perseverance.”

Whilst early experience and exposure has paved the way for his success as a young self-starter, the journey has at times been tough and he has experienced his fair share of setbacks and challenges. Being undermined and underestimated as a result of his young age was a major challenge that he initially experienced. He states that a prevalent problem plaguing South Africa at the moment, is the underrepresentation and suppression of the youth and their capabilities. Zareef is especially passionate about issues relating to youth development and progress. He began his entrepreneurial career embarking on the establishment of a clothing company at the tender age of 16. Tapping into what was then the novel concept of influencer promotion, he relied purely on instinct to build his brand. He then slowly began surrounding himself with mentors who were succeeding at the level at which he wished to succeed, building his own ‘power circle’ and a good support base for himself. Described as one of the continent’s thought leaders, leadership for him is linked to innovation, adaptability, foresight, and creating conditions conducive to the progression and success of young people. In defining leadership, he affirms that

“A leader is one who understands the value of building other people. With everyone fixated on titles, the important thing to remember is that if you are not mentoring anyone, you are not building yourself as a leader or emphasising what leadership is about. Every leader should identify four of five people and assist and guide them toward becoming next-generation leaders.”

Having been previously involved in politics as a Youth Leader, Zareef has ambitions of being a Minister of Education. This comes as no surprise; through his education platform he has been committed to assisting and guiding young people to learn, do and become more.

An entrepreneur who is emotionally engaged with the work he does, Zareef says that one of the most rewarding aspects of what he does is being able to pave the way toward a sustainable and positive social impact. He states that whilst success is subjective, for him it is inextricably linked to happiness and leaving behind a legacy which could benefit those after him, he describes it as: “Planting a seed so that what may grow from there is the ability to influence others to do the same.”

Among his numerous achievements, the two which he is most proud of thus far is having been named one of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 and his latest undertaking, Wealth Spaces. He is especially spirited and enthusiastic as he describes Wealth Spaces, which he is confident is a disruptive concept to existing African Markets. Dynamic and innovative he is always searching for the next opportunity. Understanding that many SMME’s in South Africa fail as a result of high initial expenditure, Zareef and his co-founder who met on a flight, began working on a solution to tackle this problem. Wealth Spaces facilitates remote working with hundreds of spaces around Africa alone to provide an ‘Uber model for work spaces’.

From amongst the most important lessons he has learnt and would like to share -particularly with young people- is that success is seldom a linear process. To succeed one needs to ensure that they don’t have a negative relationship with failure, but instead they should get comfortable with the possibility of it. Pure perseverance and living at the edge of his capabilities are what sets him apart. Having approached numerous publishers after the completion of his book EMPIRE, Zareef was rejected by every publisher, a few of whom recommended he undertake such a project when he is older. He was left with two options, to discontinue efforts to publish and come back at a later point as he was told to, or to self-publish. He chose the latter. Concerning this, he states: “A successful person builds a door if no door exists.”

Within the first month of being released the book became a national bestseller and together with this, he achieved a long-time dream of seeing his book next to that of Robert Kiyosaki’s on shelves. He also emphasises that apart from becoming easily discouraged, young people often look for validation and affirmation from those around them and this needs to stop. It is important to “Consider people’s opinions, but never let it become your own”. Through his educational platform, Generational Wealth Education, he aspires to encourage confidence and to transform mindsets to seek validation from within oneself. The rise of the ‘celebrity entrepreneur’ has birthed the often-inflated image of entrepreneurship which in turn feeds into the allure of wealth and fame. Zareef warns against being deluded by this and what is portrayed on social media. He explains that behind those who succeed in making entrepreneurship a lifestyle there are countless realities of sacrifice, hardship, hard-work and failure before success.

As the world around us rapidly changes and many look toward a post-pandemic future with trepidation, Zareef encourages young people to rise to the challenge and understand how unique we are as a continent. He encourages people to use the time wisely and in making career/study-related/entrepreneurial choices to look toward those industries and fields which we will be most in need of post-pandemic. He believes that as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, more young people than ever will need to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills for entrepreneurship.

Transformation in Africa will come about by young, committed individuals who are willing to push beyond the boundaries. With an aim to transform education and entrepreneurship and ensure sustainability therein, there is no doubt that Zareef is working hard to transform the continent’s fortune. With his adventurous and eclectic entrepreneurial spirit, there is no doubt that Africa will in the future see this young visionary disrupting the climate and leading the change.