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Entrepreneur Feature: Founder of Black Like Me Ltd honoured with a honorary doctorate from CUT (Source: CUT www.cut.ac.za)

March 24, 2013
Dr Herman Mashaba (centre) is accompanied by his wife, Mrs Connie Mashaba

Dr Herman Mashaba (centre) is accompanied by his wife, Mrs Connie Mashaba

From humble beginnings selling products including insurance, fire-detection systems and household goods on a commission basis from the boot of his car for almost two years, Herman Mashaba got his big break in 1983 when he found a job selling hair-care products on a commission basis for a Johannesburg-based company. He had finally found his niche, and within 19 months had made up his mind to start manufacturing his own hair-care products. With his wife, three partners and a R30 000 loan, Mashaba set up production in a 200 m2 Small Business Development Corporation unit in Ga-Rankuwa, in the then homeland of Bophuthatswana. He named his business Black Like Me, and the first bottles of his products hit the shelves in February 1985. The rest, as they say, is history!

Central University of Technology, Free State (CUT) is the first higher education institution to award an Honorary Doctorate in Business Administration to Dr Herman Samtseu Philip Mashaba, Founder of Black Like Me.

Speaking at the Graduation Ceremony on 12 March 2013, Dr Mashaba said, “I would like to thank CUT for the honour that is bestowed upon me this afternoon.  This came as a total surprise and I feel humbled by CUT’s recognition of my efforts.  I had always wished to study further and obtain my doctoral degree in political science to become a political scientist of note.  My dreams of acquiring a university degree were shattered in 1980 when I was doing my second year at the University of the North due to political disturbances of the time. Unfortunately I had to abandon my studies and decided to focus my energies on a business venture to get back my freedom.

“Education has been close to my heart; hence I have always invested heavily in helping people to achieve the best in what they do.  As I receive this award, I need to make a special appeal to all South Africans particularly within academia, to work hard toward finding workable solutions before it is too late.”

Vice Chancellor and Principal of CUT, Prof Thandwa Mthembu commented, “Dr Herman Mashaba is one of the few notable figures in this country who epitomizes the true meaning of an entrepreneur.  He is truly a role model and inspiration to our youth. As a university, we have decided to honour Dr Mashaba for his immense contribution to business in this country.  He is a self-made entrepreneur who holds a conspicuous space within business for having distinguished himself amongst his peers and transcended the challenges of growing his business ventures in an environment that was less conducive and less supportive to emerging entrepreneurs like him to enter the mainstream economy.”

Today, Dr Mashaba is an internationally recognised businessman with investments in various sectors of the South African economy, including real estate, financial services, exhibitions and events, insurance brokerage, bulletproof materials, security, fuel distribution, cleaning services, facilities management, merchandising, and media planning and buying. His recently-launched autobiography, Black Like You.

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