Managing director, Secha Capital
Although there are over two million SMMEs in South Africa, very few of them employ anyone outside the founding team — this is a problem Secha Capital, founded by Rushil Vallabh and his business partner, Brendan Mullen, are resolving through their business. Vallabh is optimistic about the future of Secha and believes that they will create hundreds of jobs in the company and even more through their successful business model, which they are looking to spread across the continent.
Originally a qualified aeronautical engineer, Vallabh worked a few years in the banking industry before he was accepted for an MBA at Cambridge University. He says the experience of studying at Cambridge, meeting people from across the globe and learning about business principles from leading scholars has been invaluable in his journey as an entrepreneur.
He graduated in 2014 with a first-class pass and was on the dean’s list. He believes that his background in engineering taught him to think logically through problems, and always aim for optimisation, while the MBA taught him to think more broadly and incorporate a multitude of variables when making decisions. He has also worked for Bain & Company as a management consultant, where he realised that all the work he was doing for large corporates would be better served at the SMME level.
It was a combination of this skill set and experience that gave him the confidence to co-found the operationally-focused impact investment holding company. Through Secha Capital, Vallabh and his partner are investing in small companies, embedding highly skilled talent into the management team for nine months as part of an accelerator toolkit to help the business scales of the various SMMEs, and leveraging shareholder network to open market access for other entrepreneurs.
Although he enjoys the autonomy of running his own business, he says the hardest thing about starting it was having the initial self-belief that what they were doing was correct. “We’ve had to prove ourselves before asking investors for money. Now we’re confident that we can succeed and are very optimistic about Secha Capital’s future contribution to the continent,” says Vallabh.
He has also listed on the Forbes Africa 30 under 30 list for his achievements as an entrepreneur.
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