A young Johannesburg entrepreneur, who has made the 2018 Forbes 30 under 30 list, says he does not regret leaving his comfortable corporate job for business.
Jack Mthembu (27), who graduated with a degree in chartered accountancy from North West University (NWU) in 2015, says he only worked for six weeks for a consulting firm before quitting.
He is founder and chief executive of First One Adventures and The Entrepreneurs Club, headquartered in Johannesburg. He established the companies in 2014 while still a student at NWU, where he served as president of Enactus, an international, non-profit organisation bringing together student, academic and business leaders to improve people’s socio-economic wellbeing.
First One Adventures offers adventure tours, camps and travel packages for young people, especially high school pupils, and corporates.
Mthembu says the weekends away are not just adventure trips for learners, as the organisation further takes them on a development programme after the camp, through The Entrepreneurs Club. Here they become equipped with entrepreneurship, leadership and nature conservation skills.
He says they mostly target former Model C schools in the inland provinces, but adds that plans are afoot to expand the programme to township schools and coastal provinces such as KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape.
Understandably, he says, schools holidays are their busiest periods. “We want to do partnerships with companies so that we can give back to our learners who can’t afford to attend our camps.”
The company is headquartered in Johannesburg. “But we outsource camps in areas such as Magaliesburg and Bela-Bela in Limpopo,” says Mthembu, who is originally from Phalaborwa in Limpopo.
He says they have been motivated by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s bid to use entrepreneurship as a means to create jobs and grow the economy. “We want to inculcate an entrepreneurship culture among learners so that they can study entrepreneurship in university and go on to become job creators.”
On making the Forbes list, he says “being listed as one to look out in the near future is exciting, this means that one will need to work 100 times more than before. It also motivates one to continue on his entrepreneurial journey and says you have what it takes to become an African billionaire one day.”
Mthembu, who , who also offers accounting services to small businesses, says he is all about impacting and developing the youth. “Our business is profitable but, really, we are not about profits. We want to shape the world to become a better place,” he maintains.
“After all, this is my full-time job. After graduating I worked for six weeks for a consulting firm. I got my first pay cheque and I was like, ‘No man, there’s more to life than sitting behind a desk’.”