The inaugural Joburg Tourism Company Entrepreneur of the Year award recognises the hard work, determination and professionalism of its winner.
JOBURG Tourism Company (JTC) has named its first Entrepreneur of the Year: Jojo Tsheola, the owner and founder of Tsheola Dinare Tours and Transfers.
Jojo Tsheola is JTC's Entrepreneur of the YearJojo Tsheola is JTC's Entrepreneur of the YearTsheola was named as the first winner of the new award at a JTC breakfast briefing for media and tourism industry stakeholders at Tourism Indaba 2011, at the Hilton Hotel in Durban on 9 May.
Tourism Indaba is an annual four-day trade show hosted by South African Tourism. It attracts over 13 000 delegates from the travel and tourism industries from around the world, who network, share ideas and show off their products.
With only five years in the tour and transport business, Tsheola’s company is making waves.
“When we started in 2007, we were determined to build a company that would contribute significantly to the tourism industry in Johannesburg and the whole country. This recognition will motive us to continue working hard,” Tsheola said.
“Being selected a winner amongst hundreds of other business people it is an indication that we are going somewhere. The company offers tourists a wider choice when it comes to shuttle and world-class transport.”
Already operating at the provincial and national level, Tsheola hopes to market his company internationally in the near future.
He is passionate about creating sustainable employment in the tourism industry. In 2009, the company had 12 employees; there are now 23 employees. Based in Kibler Park, in Joburg’s south, it offers tours and transport, including corporate travel, luxury coaches, a shuttle service and private VIP travel.
The JTC’s visitor services bureau, the team responsible for small, medium and micro enterprise development in the sector, first met Tsheola at the TD Jakes Megafest in 2008, where he provided VIP transport. Impressed with his services, determination and positive outlook and, above all, exemplary professionalism, they worked to facilitate business linkages and supplier opportunities for him.
With his own determination and this assistance, his business has grown rapidly. In 2009, he won the Gauteng Emerging Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year Award. As winner of the regional competition he was pitted against South Africa’s best in the tourism industry, and was named first runner up behind the owner of a wine estate in Stellenbosch.
And now he has another award under his belt. But it has been a tough journey to success.
The 34-year-old originally hails from Lephalale in Limpopo; however, he moved with his family to Johannesburg just before he started high school. Finishing his matric in 1996 and unable to further his education, he struggled to find work.
It took three years before he landed a job as a cleaner for Shongololo Express Train. Within two years he was promoted, and given an opportunity to drive a tour vehicle alongside a professional tour guide. Fascinated by all he was learning, he took it upon himself to attain his accreditation as a professional tour guide.
Then, in 2005, his contract with Shongololo Express was terminated. But he had made an impression – Tsheola was contacted by one of the tourists he had met while working for the company. Saddened to hear that his favourite driver had been let go, the tourist hired a car and employed Tsheola as a driver for the duration of his visit.
“I realised that if I could drive one person around and get paid for it, I could drive many,” Tsheola said.
The termination of his contract and this realisation inspired Tsheola to start a company of his own. And in 2007 he did this, using the financial help of his mother when he could not get a loan.
Breaking into the business was no easy task. “People prefer to use companies that are established and well known. What I did was target different markets from that of general travel agents and tour operators.”
Tsheola saw the gap in the market and focused on providing services for the corporate world. He partnered with a friend who owned a minibus with the necessary documents to transport the public.
He and his partner would split the profits down the middle and once business picked up cars were hired to transport passengers. Doors started opening for him when he bought his first minibus Quantum.
Growth has been fairly rapid since then. For more information about Tsheola Dinare Tours and Transport, phone 011 943 3632 or check out the company’s website.
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