CA(SA) and serial entrepreneur Francois Herbst won the Entrepreneur category in the annual Top 35 Under 35 competition. Francois, however, is more than just a gifted entrepreneur: he’s also a deeply empathetic individual who believes that those with privilege have a moral obligation to give back to those less fortunate.

By harnessing his entrepreneurial talent, he has been able to establish not only his own business, House of Growth, but an additional 13 start-up businesses across industries as diverse as construction, retail and manufacturing.

He founded his first profitable business at the age of 16 but quickly realised that the cornerstone of financial success and sustainable growth is a good financial foundation. In particular, the combination of a great business idea coupled with knowledge of the technical aspects of accounting has the ability to add extraordinary value.

Cape Town-based House of Growth is a business advisory and consulting firm offering advice to start-ups as well as strategic planning, investment and accounting services which has allowed Francois to use his entrepreneurial talents not only in financial and corporate transactions; but also in the establishment and direction of a number of start-up businesses.

Further evidence of his passion for entrepreneurship is the fact that he acts as a strategic partner to an additional 12 SMEs, serving on their boards and ultimately ensuring these companies are profitable and successful by directing their affairs and helping them to reach their optimal growth potential.

Francois explains that he feels a deep sense of personal achievement and satisfaction as a result of his involvement with these businesses as he watches both the individuals concerned and the businesses themselves begin to grow and prosper. He relishes the opportunities he experiences to challenge himself, learn more and grow both individually and professionally as he works with these small businesses.

He has also used his talents for the good of community upliftment and as such, recently played a key role in the establishment of a development project based in Hermanus, Shift the Frame; which has since become a SETA accredited initiative.  The project has taught 21 unemployed members of the community the art of carpentry – a skill which Francois noted was scarce in the Hermanus community. As such, House of Growth teamed up with Coastal Timber Mouldings to launch a project that would address this need, as well as provide training for individuals to ultimately run their own businesses and become self-sustainable.

Shift the Frame provides practical skills training as well as mentorship opportunities and Francois, together with House of Growth, is actively involved in working with students to coach, mentor and motivate them, teaching them important principles such as entrepreneurship, self-esteem and personal growth, as well as the business principles around running a successful venture and understanding the business environment.

Francois maintains that giving back doesn’t have to be in a financial capacity but can also be in terms of mentoring, training, skills transfer and socially.

He describes himself as an optimist with a strategic mind and attributes much of his success to networking and building relationships – even though at heart he’s really an introvert. He’s also a firm believer in acting with honesty, integrity and respecting diversity. His mantra is to ‘celebrate the small victories’ and his advice is to find something you love doing.

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