Smanga is the enterprising owner of Ortanium Design and creator of Bullion Bear investment bars. Through his SIBEKELO Program he encourages investors to save for the future, utilising a stockvels concept wherein members contribute monthly towards the purchase of gold or silver minted bars. Each 10gm bar, produced and certified by MetCon and supplied in tamper-proof packaging, displays a stylised bear head which he designed himself.
“I was born in 1980 in Barberton, Mpumulanga where I was unable to receive ‘white’ day care back in those dwindling days of Apartheid. My parents sent me to live with my aunt in Bulembu Swaziland until the age of three and my parents relocated there in 1985.”
He started studying Computer Science at Wits but dropped out when he realised his creativity for jewellery design. He got a job at Raj Printers in Booysens.
His entrepreneurial drive led him to approach Edwin Wakefield, owner of Mimic Electronics, with a proposal to create a website for the business. “I had never executed a website but relying on my creativity and determination, I succeeded in the end”
Smanga worked under Edwin’s tutelage until June 2010 when he secured a Senior Graphic Designer position with the Department of Defence.
Currently, he is still involved in the design of communication materials, events, billboards and posters etc. with the Department of Defence. However, he continues to harbour his dream to become fully engaged in his own enterprise to assist Africans to create wealth.
“Some time ago, I started recognising the impact of our African culture of spending our earnings on visible displays of purported prosperity, rather than creating future wealth. I received news of a friend who lost his parents and became the only breadwinner for a large family – it financially crippled him! And I have heard the same kind of story too many times. I thought to myself, we only inherit old jackets or debt – how can I help people to change this poverty cycle?”
He realised that the solution resided in an investment product or commodity that could not be spent. And so, he came up with the concept of gold and silver bullion.
“But this meant that the community had to be educated into a new lifestyle – one in which focuses on saving through a commodity that can be passed on, rather than a culture of spending leading to the inevitable cycle of negative inheritance. In our culture, it is expected that the older brother will always buy the new shoes or laptop for his brother… making it impossible to hold onto savings in the form of cash. I want to create an unwritten ongoing obligation to the family in the form of gold or silver.”
He engaged in online research to source suppliers of bullion in the design he required and found a couple of companies, including Rand Refineries.
“But when I researched MetCon, and saw that they were a small refinery with family values at heart, and this made me feel at home. It struck me that they were the kind of company that I could approach – one with which I could form a meaningful relationship!
In February of 2016, I met the Owners, Neville and Grant Crosse who committed to sponsor and support my initiative.”
MetCon has since contributed significantly to assist in making Smanga’s Bullion Bear dream become a reality. In addition to sponsoring marketing material and placing advertisements in prominent media, MetCon has paid for Smanga to participate in the Awethu Project, an incubator program that grooms entrepreneurs to realise their potential – connecting their ambition to opportunity. In March 2017, the Spiral of Life product series was launched and MetCon’s financial assistance extended to the sponsorship of the first minted bar.
When asked, ‘where to from here’? – he smiles and responds:
“I need a marketing strategy that will assist in changing the entrenched mind set within the community – getting them out of the habit of spending and into the habit of providing for the future. My dream is to work on Bullion Bear full time but at this stage I cannot afford to give up my job.
I would like to create a Bullion Bear Savings Bank where investors can deposit their bars in a type of safety box. Ultimately I want to create a business that my son can inherit.”
MetCon continues to provide financial and other support to help this meaningful initiative to become a major contributor to the preservation of wealth within African society.