It all started in 1985 when a young, unknown Yvonne Chaka Chaka was invited to the SABC for a job interview.
“I was sitting there with a lady called Sungu,” recounts Chaka Chaka. “A guy from a record company invited her to audition as they were looking for someone to sing a particular song. Sungu asked me to go with her. I don’t know what happened in the boardroom with Sungu, but I was ready to leave when Phil Hollis asks me to listen to a tune – it was nice - and if I could sing.”
A superstar is born
She sang “Let It Be” and the rest was history. Hollis found his girl! “He gave me four purple R5 notes – it was a Friday afternoon - and told me to come back on Monday. I also had the tape and the words to ‘I’m in Love with a DJ'.”
I’m in Love with a DJ was so big Chaka Chaka extended and renovated her mother’s house with the first royalty cheque she received.
Chaka Chaka made a lot of money over the years and not only with her music and endorsements. “I’m grateful to Phil Hollis even though people said he ripped me off,” says Chaka Chaka. “He taught me to invest my money. I’ve got shares in Sasol, Telkom and Morvest. I also have a retirement annuity. I’ve got to; I work for myself!”
Artist, philanthropist, businesswoman…
In 2005 UNICEF appointed Chaka Chaka as a Special Ambassador on Malaria in Eastern and Southern Africa. “There is no wealth without health,” quips Chaka Chaka who also works with the World Health Organisation and the World Bank.
Chaka Chaka started a limousine company in the early 90s. It was a good business; used by stars such as Michael Jackson when he came to South Africa. However, with her latest business she’s not only doing well but also doing good.
Busy and cash strapped? Enter Mama Chaka…
“My latest venture is called ‘Mama Chaka’,” says Chaka Chaka.
Mama Chaka has a kitchen in Kraaifontein near Cape Town which provides 10 different ready-made meals which will allow busy, cash-strapped South African's living in townships the chance to purchase an affordable and nutritious “heat-and-eat” meal.
“The food is cooked and packaged there,” says Chaka Chaka. “It’s like food you’d buy in upper market shops. All a customer has to do is wash their hands and eat.
“Distributors buy from us at R14 and sell it for R23 a meal. They provide proof that they own their home and we go and erect a kiosk on their property. All they need is R2500 working capital to start. That’s it!”
By next month Mama Chaka will have 10 kiosks in Cape Town and there are plans to also move it to Johannesburg.
It’s up to us; we can’t rely on government
“Small businesses will make South Africa succeed!” says Chaka Chaka. “We can’t rely on government and can’t continue crying about unemployment. What are we, as businesspeople and the public, doing?
“Let us shape the Africa we want to live in!”
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This article first appeared on 702 : Meet Yvonne Chaka Chaka; Princess of Africa, philanthropist, businesswoman…