Here’s an extract from my interview with private equity investor Tshego Sefolo.
Agile’s Tshego Sefolo: The CFO is key to successful Private Equity
“When we invest in businesses we look at the quality of the CFO; that individual is critical as they become our eyes and ears into the business.”
Tshego Sefolo is the CEO and founder of Agile (pronounced ah-ghee-le) Capital. Alongside Director Londeka Shezi, Tshego has – through Agile – invested huge sums in growing businesses in the South African market. They describe themselves as sector-agnostic, and have holdings in energy, engineering and outdoor media among others. It’s a dream decades in the making for Tshego, who started his career as a CA at EY. For him, pursuing private equity (PE) offered a challenging career that would expose him to different business environments – outside of the routine that can sometimes be a part of the traditional accounting route.
“Additionally, what was attractive is the fact that in PE investing you really can live by your convictions if you identify a business to put money into. In this way, it’s a cradle-to-grave business scenario where you’re looking at putting five to ten years into these businesses, to really manage where you put your money and ultimately realise what you want out of them.”
A marathon, not a sprint
Tshego seems to really embody this active and people-centric view – both in his investment choices and outside of the office. When he’s not at his desk, Tshego is a keen half-marathon runner and golfer – two sports that also suggest he is not afraid of playing the long game. The ideas of longevity, growth over time, and sustainability come up repeatedly when he lays out his views on investing. It also plays into his aspirations for Agile and himself.
“There are several big established companies in this PE space, but South Africa is an emerging market, and I think it is ripe for someone with the right energy to build something significant that will transform the landscape and challenge these established businesses. We want to be that dominant, well-established financial services group,” he says.
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