Ever since he was in high school Emmanuel Bonoko had a passion for entrepreneurship. It was in high school, that the South African entrepreneur was inspired by business seminars to start his own company.
That may seem like an early age to be preoccupied with the world of entrepreneurship, but Bonoko carried that passion with him as he entered college, where he earned a bachelor of commerce in marketing management at the University of South Africa. It was in college that he decided to embark on his journey of social entrepreneurship.
But, according to Bonoko, the concept wasn’t readily accepted. Despite this, Bonoko decided to push on with his first venture. Founded in 2012, the Ebonoko Foundation’s main objectives remain leadership, youth empowerment, entrepreneurship, and serving others.
Its first major project was a book drive initiative through which the foundation collected and donated more than 12,000 books at discounted rates to struggling schools, NGOs, and prisons.
Bonoko, who was born in Johannesburg, was raised by his mom and father before moving to stay with his grandparents. He later moved to Pretoria to stay with an aunt. His father died while Bonoko was in the 11th grade.
By 2014, Bonoko had launched EBonoko Holding, a media consulting, public relations and events company based in Johannesburg. Today, Bonoko, 26, counts Hewlett Packard and Intel among his clients.
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He will soon launch a new business venture, the South African Entrepreneurship and Business Awards, to recognize entrepreneurs and business leaders who have developed the economy through job creation and business development.
Bonoko told AFKInsider about his passion for business and community.
AFKInsider: What led you to start EBonoko Holdings?
Emmanuel Bonoko: As an entrepreneur, it is always good to evolve and expand to other business opportunities. I knew after getting my marketing degree I am going to embark on a new path. Above all, what matters is striving to build a legacy, create employment for others, and to become known as one of the best companies that have had a positive impact in the world.
AFKInsider: Please tell me what the company does?
Emmanuel Bonoko: EB Holdings is a marketing and consulting company with multiple services which include media relations; PR management; concept line design and brand development; business strategy development; promotions and marketing; events hosting and management; and management consulting. We are also expanding into real estate properties as one of our portfolios.
AFKInsider: How does your company stand out from other companies in the same sector?
Emmanuel Bonoko: Ebonoko Holdings is committed to quality service, which will be achieved by the commitment of its shareholders and effective management. Ebonoko Holdings’ mission is to penetrate respective markets and provide lucrative services and products. We are committed to give undivided attention to our clients and put the client’s interest first in all aspects by attending to their immediate needs.
The team behind Ebonoko Holdings is determined to meet the changing needs of consumers and will make sure clients are feeling safe with the company despite changes in the environment.
The roles and accountability are assigned to its shareholders in respect of their experience, skills and knowledge. Management is going to use the specific skills, and knowledge to the best interest of the business to provide greater output to our clients. This is what, I feel, makes us different.
AFKInsider: How do you get new clients?
Emmanuel Bonoko: We use power networking; social media; media profiling; approaching potential clients by actually knocking on their doors and offering our service at no cost at first, and get the contracts later. We also get a lot of new clients from referrals.
AFKInsider: What are some of the challenges of having a small business in South Africa?
Emmanuel Bonoko: There are more than a few challenges here in South Africa. Among them: a lack of support from the government; many small, medium and micro enterprise Businesses (SMMEs) simply don’t understand their markets; and there is a lack of collaborations among SMMEs. Also, many SMMEs lack the patience to build up and to learn their industries.
AFKInsider: What are your goals for your business?
Emmanuel Bonoko: We have been striving to work with bigger corporations and sectors. We are also going to be investing back in the company for greater growth. Looking ahead to long-term, we want to have more job creation, build branches in other African countries, and create legacy business for generations to come.
AFKInsider: Why did you start EBonoko Foundation?
Emmanuel Bonoko: To get young people to embrace the culture of reading and to assist young people by providing educational scholarships. Our goal is to empower young people, also through training and mentoring them so they can discover their purposes.
Our first major project under EBonoko Foundation was the book drive initiative which we started with only collecting three books and now are up to thousands of books per month. To date, we have donated more than 14,000 books across South Africa. We donated them to schools, charities, libraries, prisons and community centers. The book drive gave birth to youth mentorship, scholarship campaigns, and youth seminars.
AFKInsider: Why is the foundation necessary?
Emmanuel Bonoko: We are responsible to make this country progress and become a better place for all. We are the change we want to see in our communities. At EBonoko Foundation we believe in the power of mentorship and through our mentorship we normally focus on leadership by developing and grooming young people to make significant contributions to the community as the ambassadors and the voice of change.