#6 Summer 2016

Phila Water creator shows it takes more than an award-winning idea to be successful

Phila Magidigidi

Phila Magidigidi, the entrepreneur behind a new brand of bottled water sold at events and local ‘hangout spots’, had to drop out of college due to financial constraints, but his determination to succeed in business led him to the Raymond Ackerman Academy of Entrepreneurial Development (RAA) in 2014.

Magidigidi, who comes from New Crossroads in the Nyanga township on the Cape Flats, was on his way to becoming a mechanical engineer when he dropped out of his studies at the College of Cape Town because he could not afford the fees.

A learnership from Barloworld Motors to train as a mechanic helped get him back on track, but he quickly realised he wasn’t where he was meant to be. “I just knew that being a mechanic was not for me. I love talking to people, I love entertaining and I just didn’t get that from being a mechanic, so I left that world,” recalled Magidigidi in a recent interview with News24.

He moved on to Wonga.com’s call centre, where he earned the position of quality assurance manager, before starting Lesip Entertainment in 2014, organising events, selling branded clothes and dressing local artists.

During that year he enrolled at the Raymond Ackerman Academy of Entrepreneurial Development (RAA) at the GSB where he and his business partner were awarded Best Business Idea for their Park Free App, an app that would help people find available parking at shopping malls and other large parking facilities. But the app never materialised and shortly after, he and another business partner, Bongo Mahambehlala, won another award at a business idea pitching session in Guga Sthebe, Langa, for their sneaker cleaning business venture, Takkie Wash Kings, that operated in Gugulethu.

While running this new venture, it dawned on Magidigidi that they were using a lot of water while millions of people in informal settlements don’t have access to clean drinking water. That’s how Phila Water was conceived: “Water is life and it sometimes pains me when I hear stories of people in remote rural areas who have to compete with animals for water,” said Magidigidi when interviewed by Drum Magazine.

Very much in line with the Ackerman ideal that “doing good is good business”, Phila Water – a range of distilled, still, and sparkling water in 500ml bottles – was launched in July this year and sold 5 000 bottles within a month.

The product was in the development phase for the better part of this year and is now available for events and local retailers as well, according to Magidigidi, who’s hoping that the locals can heed this call for a healthier alternative to alcohol and fizzy dr inks.

Despite his hectic schedule as a budding entrepreneur, Magidigidi also works as a team leader at Capitec Bank where he is garnering almost as much praise for his entrepreneurial spirit inside the organisation as he is outside of it.

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