Driven by Passion - Siddiq Adam, CEO KZN Growth Fund:The KZN Growth Fund (being the only funder in this project) provided R42.5m in debt funding towards the setting up of the second condom manufacturing facility in the country
Driven by Passion - Siddiq Adam, CEO KZN Growth Fund:The KZN Growth Fund (being the only funder in this project) provided R42.5m in debt funding towards the setting up of the second condom manufacturing facility in the country

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Driven by Passion - Siddiq Adam, CEO KZN Growth Fund


Siddiq Adam lives by the maxim, “For as long as the intention is good and the heart is clean then success is guaranteed, given that they are accompanied by hard work and perseverance.” This maxim is very apt as his career has been driven by a passion for the upliftment of people. Knowing that he can make a difference to people’s lives causes him much enjoyment,  both in his professional career and in his personal capacity. In his words, “You have to be passionate about what you do, otherwise don’t do it”.

The Mauritius-born South African did his primary and secondary education in Mauritius and thereafter moved to South Africa in 1992 where he completed his tertiary studies, including a Master’s Degree in Applied Economics (cum laude), at the University of Natal, now the University of KwaZulu-Natal between 1992 and 1998.

Prior to being appointed as CEO of the Growth Fund in March 2012, Adam occupied various senior positions within the KZN provincial government, namely KZN Department of Economic Development & Tourism (Deputy-Director General), KZN Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs (Acting Director-General), KZN Department of Human Settlements (Deputy-Director General) and KZN Treasury (Chief Director).

Driven by a passion for fixing dysfunction, Adam’s strength is finding and applying practical solutions to problems. As such he said, “I enjoy finding solutions.  I am not dogmatic but I am able to think on my feet and I have developed the flexibility to cope with situations as they arise and can change my mind if good alternatives to problem situations are offered.” Adam said that this skill has given him the edge when dealing with complex problems.  He added, “It is important to be agile and adapt to the environment
one finds yourself in, however, you must have a vision.”

Talking to Business Sense, Adam delves into his flexible approach and reveals his leadership style: “I use a consultative approach. Even if I have a solution in mind, everyone can take collective responsibility for finding and implementing solutions. You can never know everything.” Adam added, “You are only as good as your team and having an efficient and capable crew is essential. But a good leader will always be accountable for decisions that his team makes as a fish rots from the head down.”

He values the ability to think out of the box and apply common sense and logic to situations. These skills are often not related to the qualifications achieved, but are characteristics that he looks for when making staff appointments.

Much of his career has been driven by the desire to dispel the myth that the private sector is inherently more efficient and competent than the public sector and that it is possible to have better performing state institutions. Adam, the CEO is obsessed with providing an exceptional level of service to all his clients at all times. He added that investors are always looking for a responsive and efficient financier with a quick turnaround time.

A major career challenge that he has faced is the lack of trust between population groups in South Africa. He said, “While the system of apartheid cannot be blamed for South Africa’s problems indefinitely, the heritage of the past has created much mistrust, which will take years and decades of concerted efforts by all to change.” A crucial part of his role in the various government departments he has worked has been building relationships and developing rapport in order to increase productivity.

While Adam has been instrumental in the turnaround of a number of institutions he also says that he has moved on with some sadness. “I cannot do miracles and I have been disillusioned when changes have
not continued, especially as I have had to sacrifice a huge amount of time and effort in order to achieve
results,” he said.

Adam’s years of experience in turning around organisations has been put to good use at the Growth Fund, which is now a self-sustainable provincial public entity with a 100% clean audit report in each of the last four financial years. The interventions that have been put in place include transforming the governance structure from a complex and convoluted structure to one that is more efficient and agile.
The Growth Fund has also been rebranded and has reclaimed its market space with much success. It is now well poised to further deliver on its mandate.

Adam maintains that the Growth Fund has been a pioneer in the space of project finance at a provincial government level.  It started with a public private partnership with Standard Bank and the Development Bank of Southern Africa to create a closed debt fund. The Growth Fund has since bolstered its product offerings by establishing an Equity Fund â€" once again a first by a provincial development finance institution. This new equity fund will have greater socio-economic impact by leveraging off the market. It also has the intention to develop a guarantee fund in the foreseeable future. Adam highlighted the fact his institution will continuously re-invent itself in order to be ahead of the competition.

The Growth Fund has seen a commendable increase in the number of successful projects it has funded over the last two years.  Further to the solid performance, the lenders in the previous funding model have also been repaid. Adam says his institution will increase its efforts to build up and grow its capital base. A prominent institutional investor that has approved a R300 million investment into the new Equity Fund will be announced by the MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Mr Sihle Zikalala in due course, once both entities has finalised the legal agreements. The Growth Fund currently manages total assets valued at R1,1 billion and is projected to surpass the R1,4 billion mark with the new institutional investor on board.

An important aspect of financing projects is to ensure that a significant number of black industrialists are created in addition to implementing the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment strategy of government. Adam said, “We should not transform just for compliance sake. We must transform because it is the moral and right thing to do. We cannot perpetuate inequality in society.”

In a bid to promote transformation, Adam would like to see much more investment in the country’s human capital, especially in interventions relating to education and skills development. He said, “People are our most precious assets.” Adam would like to see measures put in place to counter the high dropout rate in schools and universities as well as ensure that a higher standard of education is obtained.

Adam’s spare time is currently occupied by his new born son. He enjoys travel, which provides him the much needed opportunity to switch off from work. While having visited 28 countries, he still believes that no country in the world can match what South Africa offers.” He is an avid soccer and cricket fan and will indulge in a bit of tennis from time to time.

Driven by Passion - Siddiq Adam, CEO KZN Growth Fund

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