BACKSTORY: Mergence Investment Managers’ Yoza Jekwa
We question Yoza Jekwa, joint MD at Mergence Investment Managers on her first job, top tip for doing a deal and an investment she wishes she’d made earlier
What’s your one top tip for doing a deal?
Be thorough in your due diligence prior to making an investment. Its cost will never outweigh the cost of a problem uncovered once you’re already invested.
What was your first job?
I was medical intern at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto.
How much was your first pay cheque, and how did you spend it?
It was for R4,000 — 50% was for my living expenses, 50% went to my parents.
What’s the most interesting thing about you that people don’t know?
I am passionate about education as the key enabler of upliftment of the majority of South Africans. I have been involved in NGOs such as Get Me To Graduation, which helps prevent financial constraints from standing in the way of disadvantaged students graduating.
What is the one thing you wish somebody had told you when you were starting out?
It’s OK not to have all the answers at the start. The key to success is willingness and commitment to move up the learning curve.
What, if anything, would you have changed about SA’s approach to the lockdown?
Greater transparency regarding the probable duration. A 21-day lockdown was overly optimistic, resulting in the government losing credibility and public buy-in with each extension.
What is the one investment you wish you had made, or made earlier?
On the listed side, buying Naspers shares at the start of 2019, as it has proven to be one of the few consistent star performers. On the unlisted side, I would have relished the chance to invest in Vumatel and Dark Fibre Africa.
What do you believe is the most overrated virtue?
Patience. I believe success is achieved through persistence, which is patience combined with effort and tenacity. Patience alone is not enough.
Was there ever a point at which you wanted to trade it all in for a different career?
Well, change is something I readily embrace: I started my career as a medical doctor and transitioned into an investment banker and fund manager.
If you were Cyril Ramaphosa, what would you change, or do, tomorrow?
Reprioritise government spending towards education. And we need universal, affordable access to fast internet connectivity to deliver online education & skills training, telemedicine, digital access to municipal and state services, growth in digitalised SMEs and wider financial inclusion.
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