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Inspiring stories of entrepreneurs – Calvin and Family Group


CALVIN AND FAMILY GROUP (CFG) was established in 2005 by Calvin Mathibeli, a self-made man from incredibly humble beginnings. The company has 10 years of experience in the property development and construction industry, specialising initially in residential development, and later branching out into commercial, retail, industrial and civil development. More recently, they have also started building low-cost housing and schools. CFG has further diversified into other sectors such security services, project management, and printing and marketing. In August 2016, they entered the hospitably division, by opening the Unique Lifestyle Cafe at The Square Boutique Hotel in the upmarket area of Umhlanga.

Mathibeli learnt the meaning of a hard day’s work at the age of 13, when he started working as a gardener to pay for his school uniform. He sold oranges to contribute to his single mother’s income. Mathibeli recalls further hardship: ‘When I was growing up, there was a lady who was a pig farmer. She used to go to Shoprite and take the food that was on the street and mix together the food and fruit. Because we never had food at home, I assisted with packing the food, and I used to take the food meant for the pigs, boil it and eat it. I would take the fruit as my lunch box to school. So when you talk about someone who is struggling their level best, you are taking about me!’

Mathibeli registered his first enterprise as a sole proprietor at the age of 17. With no financial backer, he had to apply plenty of inspiration and innovation, as well as find his own source of capital investment to kick-start his business. In 2012 he tried branching into the hospitality industry. Just after the business launched, he suffered two break-ins. All of the restaurant equipment was stolen and Mathibeli experienced bankruptcy. It took dedication, determination, hard work, focus and consistency to overcome this setback.

For Mathibeli, business is not about getting rich quickly; it is about sustainability. ‘We want to be a sustainable, multi-generational business, which is why I called it Calvin and Family Group – I want to sustain my family. I also view my workforce as family members – I never treat them like they are working for me. They are all my responsibility.’ The company focus is on transformation and liberation, and making sure that the youth is empowered through business opportunities.

CFG strives to be the employer of choice in the industry and offers a compelling proposition to employees which includes experienced management and leadership, continuous development through training, competitive remuneration and rewards, and growth opportunities in the company. Mathibeli explains their employment ethos: ‘We are building and training our team to achieve superior skills and knowledge in the industry.’

The company has a comprehensive Social Economic Development (SED) strategy, which aims to empower the communities in their project catchment areas with resources, support and skills that ultimately lead to better lives. The company aims to spend 5% of its net profit after tax on community projects and non-profit organisations. The SED programme has three key focus areas:

  • Education and training with particular focus on maths, science, environmental science, engineering and technology education.
  • Social development involves investing in community development programmes, HIV/Aids awareness, cancer awareness and other emergency related initiatives such as disaster relief and ad hoc sponsorship.
  • Economic development with particular emphasis on promoting the sustainable creation of employment, particularly for marginalised and unskilled groups such as women and the youth.

Mathibeli has a vision for the future that reflects his passion for sustainability. ‘We have a campaign #fiveyears5000jobs. I believe it is possible in the next five years, to create a minimum of 5000 sustainable jobs and to become one of the most preferred service providers across the continent and internationally. I am not going to achieve that by myself. We are going to achieve that by forming co-ops with the youth that have a shared vision of owning businesses. We will fund and mentor them and then automatically, jobs will be created.’

With determined and inspiring entrepreneurs such as Mathibeli working hard to uplift his community, one can’t help but feel hopeful for the future of South Africa.

Calvin Mathibeli was recently honoured with the 2016 National Entrepreneur Champion Award at the South African Small Business Awards.

For more on the CALVIN AND FAMILY GROUP visit:


Small Business Friday is brought to you by the National Small Business Chamber (NSBC) and encourages all South Africans to interact and support small business everyday; especially every Friday and even more so on Small Business Friday, the first Friday of Spring every year. This grows local communities, drives job creation and ultimately builds the nation. With your support small business will be able to employ more, therefore reducing rates of unemployment and harvesting the entrepreneurial spirit.

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