Quinton Zunga. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA
Quinton Zunga. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA

 

Disrupting the status quo is never easy but Quinton Zunga, CEO of SA’s first black-owned-and-managed health-care listing RH Bophelo, plans to do just that.

SA’s private health-care sector is dominated by an "old guard", which holds an intricate monopoly over the sector and sets the standards and possibilities of what private health care should look like.

Mediclinic, Netcare and Life Healthcare tower over the sector, with their combined market cap of R150bn. About 20% of the population (mostly high-income earners) are served by these private companies, while those who can’t afford private care rely on crumbling state services.

Zunga (40) has limited experience in health care, but he says the market is ripe for the taking. "We have nothing to lose," he says.

RH Bophelo will also serve as a home for newly qualified black doctors who, Zunga says, are almost always thrown into the deep end after qualifying and are expected to become entrepreneurs overnight.

RH Bophelo hopes its black economic empowerment status will give it access to concessions, including access to licences, which the big three hospitals — Mediclinic, Netcare and Life Healthcare — have struggled to obtain. He says the company will also be open to collaborating with government to come up with innovative solutions — an approach that, he says, is a marked departure from the attitude of other private players.

Zunga aims to attract what he calls an untapped market. RH Bophelo will target the "missing middle": consumers who cannot afford private care at current rates, but are willing to pay for affordable quality care.

Zunga grew up in a small town in Zimbabwe. He has a business science and computer science degree as well as an MSc in finance from the University of London.

He began his career in investment banking at Barclays, Zimbabwe and was transferred to its Johannesburg office in 2000. He was a director at Bank of America Merrill Lynch SA and the head of its debt capital markets for SA and sub-Saharan Africa, where he was instrumental in developing regional business.

He then founded RH Managers — which has driven the RH Bophelo listing — and co-founded Arkein Group.

Zunga’s interest in health was ignited when he was working with a health-care client in his previous role as a banker. He also counts health-sector entrepreneurs Dr Diliza Mji and Dr Gil Mahlati as his mentors.

"As a banker, I had a dream to pursue the creation of the fourth-largest health-care group and a black-owned champion," says Zunga. "Once I left banking I continued pushing this idea and I think we are beginning to see the building blocks coming into place."

With 16 years of experience in investment banking and private equity, Zunga says he has identified an abundance of opportunities in health care that require imaginative solutions and will work on those with his experienced team.

RH Bophelo listed on the JSE last week as a special purpose acquisition company, and has managed to raise R500m, which will be used to acquire commercially viable assets.

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