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Energy entrepreneur: from humble beginnings to big-time success

Timothy Tebeila went from selling bus tickets to owning a major energy and minerals company in Limpopo. This is the story of how a boy with an entrepreneurial mind became a business success.
Energy entrepreneur: from humble beginnings to big-time success
Author :
Fiona Rom

Timothy Tebeila went from selling bus tickets to owning a major energy and minerals company in Limpopo. This is the story of how a boy with an entrepreneurial mind became a business success.
His current position is one that he probably never dreamt of as a child, and is something that the entrepreneurial success is proud of achieving.
Timothy grew up in a small village in Limpopo province, and his father worked away from home as a migrant labourer in Johannesburg.
With his father being away a lot, Timothy had developed a keen business mind from an early age, helping out at home with small jobs that brought in some extra income for his family. This pushed him towards making a success of his future, and having an education helped him with that. This is where Timothy’s true business success started. It began with selling apples to the kids at his school and then progressed onto bigger items, like bus tickets that were more popular for commuters at his local bus stop than daily fares.
Over the years, his parents had put aside money that would allow Timothy to become a teacher. Timothy fought for equity at the same time and fought tooth and nail for better education facilities for his students. This was difficult, but he was up for the fight and struggled through. He found a second job and this helped him to survive on his meagre teacher salary. He sold insurance part-time, which took off like a bomb, eventually leading to the young entrepreneur giving up on his teaching career and focusing on selling insurance full-time. He managed to build up a reputation for being dedicated to his company and this opened a number of doors for him, including his own insurance brokerage.
This was a big step, where he went from the security of a major corporation to doing it all for himself. But he rode his luck, with the sheriff threatening to take away all of his possessions. Timothy didn’t run to loansharks, though – he worked his fingers to the bone to pay his debts without having to borrow more financing. He kept his eyes open with other business interests, establishing Tebeila Building Construction after 1996 and becoming the biggest black-owned construction company in Limpopo in the late ’90s.
He then moved into mineral resources, which was as much of a learning curve for Timothy as opening his insurance brokerage. It started with buying mineral rights but quickly got out of hand. Timothy’s first big application was unsuccessful, but after he’d gathered some R1.5 million in funds from his community, who bought into his company. He took his laboratory test results to financiers directly and thanks to these showing excellent results, the businessman was able to get funding from Coal For Africa, which helped him to expand Sekoko Resources (PTY) Ltd into the successful business that it is today.
If you want something badly enough, like Timothy, you’ll do whatever it takes to get it, even if that means selling apples and bus tickets to get the job done!

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