Managing director, CSR-Africa
Ismail Hassen is no stranger to the spotlight, having won several competitions in 2015 including the Transnet/SABS Moving Ideas competition and the industry sector SMME award from the Africa Growth Institute, along with that body’s SMME of the year award. These follow on several earlier achievements, including a R5-million investment in his Bitu-Box bitumen product pitched to the team on the 2014 season of Dragons’ Den SA.
The Bitu-Box is a sea, road and rail storage solution that holds 24 000 litres of bitumen in a heated container. Before Ismail and his team created the Bitu-Box, the only solutions available to market were produced by Chinese companies, which only offered them on a rental or purchase basis. Key to the solution’s success has been Hassen’s talent for gathering investment into his business, including seed funding through the Eastern Cape Development Corporation.
Hassen spends most of his time with his company, CSR-Africa, which focuses on the design and manufacture of solutions for the bulk storage and transportation sector. He also consults in the manufacturing, agriculture and information technology sectors, and has positioned himself as an active mentor to four emerging SMMEs.
With his experience in navigating the local regulatory framework, Hassen also helps international businesses entering South Africa to implement the correct procedures when it comes to government policy and best business principles.
It’s not just his experience in building businesses that positions him to be a trusted expert — in addition to his bachelor of technology degree, he holds an MBA from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, where he researched methodology to improve project implementation.
“Having a strong ethical framework for your decision-making will give you a competitive edge as an entrepreneur,” says Hassen. “It’s also key to manage your time carefully, and remember that entrepreneurship is a lifestyle, it’s not a job. Every failure is a life lesson, and it will make you tougher.” — Kerry Haggard