Veli Ngubane

Chief creative officer, Avatar Agency

Veli Ngubane has managed to build the largest majority black-owned agency in South Africa, Avatar, and although the accolades and awards — such as the Financial Mail Adfocus 2017 Medium Advertising Agency of the Year award — are local, he and his team have big plans to achieve world-class excellence.

He and his partner, Zibusiso Mkhwanazi, set up the Mkhwanazi & Ngubane brands as an initiative to influence the industry and accelerate transformation by providing start-up companies with capital and expertise to help them thrive.

Having created over 60 jobs in the company and close to 350 in the group, Ngubane is driven by a desire to change people’s lives for the better. He says the issues he’s struggled with the most — fear, self-doubt, insecurity and making mistakes — have actually significantly fuelled his success. As the first entrepreneur in his family, he says fear and doubt were inspirations that helped him reach each milestone he passed. He’s a big believer of short-term goals that lay the path towards the ultimate goal.

When asked how they’ve managed to achieve so much with a company that’s been running for only five years, Ngubane says he and his business partner sought to be different and become a challenger brand in an industry that was fast becoming complacent. “A lot of entrepreneurs are quick to start ‘me too’ companies and don’t take the necessary time to find their unique space in the market. The real secret, though, is that we hire people who are more intelligent and talented than us, to move the vision forward.”

He graduated with a Bachelor of Social Sciences in Politics, Economics and Law from the University of Cape Town and later obtained a postgraduate diploma in Marketing & Advertising Communication from the Red & Yellow School, where he now serves as chair-man of the advisory board. When he arrived at university in first year, Ngubane already owned an events company that organised parties in Cape Town and on campus, an experience that taught him a lot about making money and running a business.

— Welcome Lishivha


Twitter: @TheNduna