By Staff Writer
Justin Magidi (born on 07 May 1983) is a South African based entrepreneur and philanthropist. He is a founder and CEO of Taal-net Group of Schools where he gives leadership and direction to the whole group. Justin has proven executive management track record and over ten years’ experience in the education industry. He has directed the organisation’s overall growth from one school in 2009 to 23 schools in 2021 in South Africa and Zimbabwe. The academic cluster consists of pre-primary schools, primary schools, high schools and FET (Further Education and Training) colleges. He has won accolades and gained recognition for running successful businesses. Justin holds a BSc Honours degree in Computer science and he is an Oracle Certified Professional.
Funding & Capitalization of the Taal-NET business
The business was founded with very limited resources. Having accumulated a 3-month salary, I decided to quit formal employment- it was a bold and difficult decision but it’s necessary at times in life.
The other option at my disposal was turning family and loved ones into creditors, but I did not want to risk their financial future and jeopardizing important personal relationships. So, exploring this avenue was a nonstarter.
Background to the business-How I started out the journey
It started as an upright idea by me as the founding member of the Group that education impacts on the lives of people. I am a living testimony of the impact of a good education on the future of the young ones. I believe as the late icon of South African independence, the late Nelson Mandela said “Education is the most powerful weapon to change the world”. I have realised just how true that is and what difference quality and objective learning can bring to the world. I incorporated high Christian values to impact positively on the future generation. It was this desire to leave a positive mark that saw the formation of the Group even with limited resources. The entrepreneurship mind-set was within me from the time when I was still in College at Bindura University. Back then I was running school tuckshops and using the chunk of my returns to do the work of the lord. I embarked on this journey of running a school in 2009 with one educator and 6 learners. We have realised tremendous year on year growth with 11 campuses now. The current staff complement is standing at 353 employees and at least 5000 learners
My Role as the Group CEO
As the CEO I provide leadership to the group, give strategic direction and provide vision for future growth opportunities to enhance the school’s short and long-term performance. In the process of running the business, there are ups and downs. The downs are normally characterised by various risks and as the CEO I need to manage risk, mitigate against risks to ensure that the organisation keeps going.
Career Highlights, Achievements, Milestones & Awards
I am a holder of one of those respected degrees in Computer Science, I am a Certified Oracle Associate.
I have managed to set up and roll out a vibrant business Taal-Net Group that incorporates Talma Real Estate, Talma Software Solutions & Taal-Net Schools which is my biggest SBU.
We and my team in the Taal-Net Group have received The Prestigious Business of the Year award 2018 –Zimbabwe Excellence Award South Africa. As if this recognition was not enough, we again received a Business of the year Award 2019 –Zimbabwe Achievers.
Business model-explanation of our product / service.
Taalnet is a cluster of fully registered & licenced Cambridge schools from Preschools, Primary schools to High schools in South Africa and Zimbabwe. Its FET colleges offer courses in Engineering (N1-N6), Business (N4-N6), IT and Matric Rewrite on fulltime, part time & distance learning basis. Boarding facilities are available for all levels of learning.
Challenges I faced in the early days
Just like with any other business, financial challenges are usually dominant. I could see the opportunity but there was not enough capital outlay to start with something very meaningful that people could appreciate, though I knew very well that gradually I would make it.
I had some people who were not supporting my idea and each time I presented it, they would shoot it down. Because of my social standing, no one would really imagine me driving a very big business one day.
Lessons I have learnt about being an entrepreneur
Celebrate small wins. Rome was not built in a day. The small things that you achieve should motivate you and give you strength. It’s a clear indication that you are going in the right direction and you need to take it one step at a time.
You need to learn to prioritise. A lot of wants that need to be fulfilled will all be competing for limited resources. Balance between the personal needs and business needs. All these demands exert pain and pressure on you and if you are business minded, you need to embrace them for the purposes of your growth.
Only those willing to go too far will discover how far they can go ‘T.S Elliot’
We have been on an expansion drive from the year 2009 and we are beginning to scale down. We only need one more school and then after, our strategic thrust is on consolidation. The system is now there and we need to make it stronger and stronger each day than before. We do not live-in isolation, there is a lot of competition out there which calls for both adoption and adaptation hence the focus on consolidation in the face of this competition.
Corporate Social Responsibility
The organisation is involved in CSR. Clean up campaigns, campaigns against drug abuse and also student bursaries in an effort to give back to the society and bring the black majority into empowerment, awareness and the education mainstream
We value the importance of Women’s Empowerment as a further requirement for achieving gender equality. Our management includes women in influential & decision-making positions
This article was first published in the August Issue of the Entrepreneurial Magazine under the headline, “Zimbabwean Entrepreneurs breaking the ceiling glass in the diaspora.”