Childhood friends, Durand Naidoo and Thuso Mhlambi have realised a lifelong ambition by becoming the first 100 percent black owned ship-owners in South Africa.
The 33-year-old owners of Linsen Nambi, the company they started in 2012, made maritime history as youth owners when they bought Grindrod’s Unicorn Bunker Services.
Being a founding member, Naidoo said, “We are a 100 percent black youth owned shipping company with highly skilled maritime professionals, strong customer relationships and owns its own ships. Therefore we are well placed for strategic acquisitions and organic growth to develop our infrastructure further.”
“It is unbelievable that it took this long, but is a first win for the recently legislated Combined Maritime Transport Policy, which calls for black ownership in shipping,” he said.
Also a founding member, Mhlambi said there was a great need for the private sector and the funding institutions to better align themselves to governments development plans to unlock more deals like theirs.
Naidoo and Mhlambi have a goal to become the leading African shipping company with a global presence.
These bunkers supply fuel to vessels. Mhlambi said they are proud of their transformation successes. The story of the inception of their company is one of a friendship that goes back to 1996, when they were both 10 and in grade four at Montclair Senior Primary School.
They became great friends. The men say that they stuck together when they progressed to the New Forest High School.
Naidoo says he conducted shipping business across the African continent, visiting places that included Uganda, Sudan, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
The men are in agreement that there is much work that needs to be done within the South African shipping landscape.
Mhlambi added, “The Port of Durban is the busiest container port in Africa; the Port of Richard’s Bay is the busiest coal terminal in the world. You have only to consider the effect of mining commodities on the GDP, that can only be transported by sea, to understand how much of cargo moves across South Africa.”
Naidoo added, “There is a saying in shipping that cargo is king. However, in South Africa, even though we have the lion’s share of cargo, we do not have South African owned ships. China, Japan, Britain and India are examples of other maritime nations in the world with cargo movements such as ours, but which have ships registered in their country. South Africa is dominated by foreign owned shipping companies which carry our cargo, resulting in a loss of GDP to our country.”
“The oceans can feed us and provide us with a livelihood, yet it remains locked with high barriers of entry for new entrants to participate,” they added.
(Source: Overport Rising Sun)
Sea News, September 17