By Charndré Emma Kippie
Founder of Green Outdoor Gyms (GOG), Tim Hogins, is paying it forward with the launch of his new cutting-edge tech solution named Blacqmarket – the newest tech game changer for Africa. Tim has grown into a serial entrepreneur with a main objective to give back to his local community and the African people, as a whole. Witnessing the challenges that informal traders experience in his local township, Tim developed this online platform to afford the common businessperson a nifty solution for safe and fair trading. Blacqmarket gives the African economy a foolproof strategy for moving businesses online.
Blacqmarket is one of the most secure Ecommerce blockchain-enabled platforms, making all transactions safe and secure. The platform offers low merchant fees so that shop owners retain more, as well as free logistics for parcels that are 5kg and less. The Blacqmarket Platform accommodates formal and informal traders, unlike other platforms, encouraging all who may have a product selection to sell, by utilising this new platform.
Please could you tell us a bit about your background – how did you get to this point?
I was born and raised in Toekomsrus, Randfontein, and am the middle child of five siblings. Life as a kid was great, but changed for the worse as a teenager due to poverty and discrimination, coupled with your standard ‘teenage angst’. In order to survive, we as a family became entrepreneurs, and our household became the go-to one-stop location to purchase anything from sweets to baked goods. Eventually we became a café where one could buy food etc.
Due to non-existent financial resources at the time, I couldn’t pursue any tertiary education and became a security guard. Whilst being a security guard, for close to 2 years, I discovered the Cobol Computer Programming bursary course, and wrote the aptitude test. After that, my IT career commenced.
With an entrepreneurial background in hand, I always wanted to be a serial entrepreneur and used my salary to explore different concepts. Many ideas failed, but GOG (Green Outdoor Gyms) was a great success. After establishing GOG, I’m now the owner of multiple businesses, each linked to CSI, as my objective is to give back, at all times.
What are your main career objectives for Blacqmarket?
Blacqmarket is a mass employer and also a mass enabler/empowering platform. We’re living in a virtual world with people working remotely. Blacqmarket affords unemployed people the opportunity to create and manage online stores on behalf of merchants who don’t have the technical ability nor time to do so. These virtual shop assistants earn an income from this.
Blacqmarket also accommodates both formal and informal traders, therefore, empowering startups, especially township-based entrepreneurs, giving them a competitive edge.
What excites you the most about the tech and gaming space in SA?
We, as South Africans, have embraced tech and gaming, therefore, creating infinite opportunities for growth, development, investment and research. The market is ripe, and in some cases ahead of other global regions – allowing us to export our skills and experience at an above market related rate.
What advice do you have for supporting SME entrepreneurship in our country?
SMEs should go back to their roots and not only adopt, but master the ‘bulk purchase’ concept. There is power in numbers and the local economy, especially the township economy. I believe the township economy is currently lost to foreign traders who harness the unparalleled power bulk purchasing.
How have you managed to navigate through these unprecedented times?
By reinventing some of my businesses. For example, one recreational park was converted into a private cemetery. I have also realigned my services and product offering according to the new ‘normal’, whilst servicing my existing client base.
Have you read any books that have inspired you?
I only read autobiographies of successful people. At the moment I’m reading A Promised Land by Barack Obama.
What is your ‘why’ i.e. Bottom line? And how do you stay motivated?
Week after week I go back to the starting point and remind myself as to why I embarked on this journey. Many times I become despondent and regret the investments made to date, but once I remind myself of my ‘why’ I’m fuelled up again.
Why am I an entrepreneur? At first I only wanted a better life for myself, my family, but it became a lifestyle. A lifestyle that allowed me to change the narrative, take on and overcome challenges, but more importantly it allowed me to explore and make mistakes along the way which I have learned from.
Please could you tell us about milestones you’ve reached and are proud of thus far?
- Introducing outdoor gyms to the African market
- The inclusion of outdoor gyms into the National Development Plan
- Celebrating 10 years in business without any business partners or government assistance
- Being featured in Forbes Africa
- Making the cover of Entrepreneur Magazine
- Bringing Blacqmarket to life
Please can you tell us a bit about your philanthropic projects?
- Hogins100 is a 5 year ongoing initiative where I change the lives of individuals over a 100 day period.
- [email protected], which is celebrating 10 years in business and giving birth to the ZA Youth Movement.
- The Hogins Soccer Academy is a feeder program where I pay to get aspiring grass root soccer players to play trials at established soccer teams. I don’t benefit should the players succeed.
- I have also been providing school fees, food, stationery, any basic needs to community members who reach out to me for assistance.
What advice do you have for tech/gaming businesses looking to scale right now?
If it’s not online, it’s non-existent. Get online! And focus on Africa – Africa is enough and one of the largest youth populations which is bursting with potential for a bright future.
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