From being the feared man who was placed behind bars to becoming a successful entrepreneur and most loved in the community for series of philanthropic gesture, the transformative life journey of 33-year old Xolane Ndhlovu, now founder and Executive Chairman of UMEH Group Limited, is an inspiring story for all generations. Writes MARY NNAH
Xolane Ndhlovu was born in South Africa to a Nigerian father and a South African mother. He moved through multiple countries like Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Tanzania through his childhood and settled in South Africa in 2001. His first job was washing dishes for a roadside vendor for a meagre amount and at the age of 22 he found his love for DJing.
He was nicknamed as Master Ziggy for his skill with the discs and he crafted his own albums and performed for various radio and TV stations like 5FM (South Africa), Energy100FM (Namibia) channel O (Africa) amongst others.
Events took a wrong turn for Ndhlovu when he became a part of a gang and violence became a regular segment of his life. He was eventually arrested and convicted for attempted murder and possession of a semi-automatic weapon.
It was behind the bars that he decided to upgrade his outlook towards life and make a determined effort to pursue new goals.
He read Richard Branson’s autobiography and the story of Branson’s Virgin group inspired him to form UMEH Group in the next stage of his life. He started investing systematically in start-up tech companies and historically become the first person to legally make a million dollar behind bars Thanks to technological advancement that legally enables well behaved prisoners access to accessories such as laptop.
Ndhlovu set up UMEH conglomerate which has subsequently developed multiple subsidiaries in the fields of finance, media, real estate, blockchain, consulting, and investment.
Today the UMEH Group umbrella shelters 18 different companies like the UMEH Capital Limited, Royal IVY®, UMEH Properties, UMEH Logistics and many others with total cumulative capital commitments of the Group amounting to R490 million at the present date.
The group has also established a significant presence in the media space with 11 magazine and newspaper titles including Affluent, Star Magazine Africa and Daily Afrika News (DailyAfrika.com) which have become one of most visited portal for African news, with over 20 journalists across Africa that deliver unparalleled coverage of African news, breaking news, sports, tech news, in-depth analysis of the latest trends.
UMEH Lifestyle a subsidiary of UMEH which owns 55% of Royal IVY® South Africa luxury brands recently entered into R100 million merger to develop 20 signature stores scross Africa – with the first segment of the development having kicked off in Polokwane, South Africa.
Today, from behind bars, Ndhlovu is now a CEO of a R500 million business empire; portraying the extraordinary journey of a South African businessman.
Ndhlovu holds a bachelor’s degree in Commerce and an MBA. While managing the company’s investment strategies, Ndhlovu is not affected by the success of his own business ventures. His colleagues describe him as an extremely humble person along with the trait of generosity.
In his philanthropic endeavours, he has established the Ziggy’s Foundation which aims to promote education and eradicate poverty throughout Africa. UMEH Group Educational Fund donated N10 million as seed capital. This money will provide scholarships to prospective new students throughout Africa.With the establishment of $10 million UMEH Group Educational Fund needy students in countries such as South Africa, Nigeria and Namibia has benefited greatly.
Ndhlovu also initiated the #FundKidsLikeSuccess campaign, an international campaign that funds kinds of limited means across Africa.
Ndhlovu has personally committed to pay for the school and University education of several children. “Relative to their needs, this contribution is small, but it comes with the honest desire to allow those less fortunate than ourselves to dream”, he said.
According to him, his story wouldn’t be possible without the self-determination and perseverance and more importantly, the faith and love people around him showed.
“My story brings to mind the words of Nelson Mandela, ”Difficulties break some men but make others. No axe is sharp enough to cut the soul of a sinner who keeps on trying, one armed with the hope that he will rise even in the end” and here the sinner is Xolane Ndhlovu,” he said.