Musa Makhunga - Paying It Forward
Musa Makhunga - Paying It Forward

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Musa Makhunga - Paying It Forward


Musa Makhunga’s passion for people and society has been driven by the need to “pay it forward”. He believes that he would not have achieved as much as he has done in his life if he was not assisted by the generosity of other people.

Makhunga says, “I realise that if people had not provided opportunities for growth, I would not have made it, career wise. We all need just that one person who believes in our set vision and declared commitment to it, to make it a bit further. “This past assistance has seen Makhunga become a trained teacher and now a businessman, who has worked in many industries including education, manufacturing, mining, retail, banking and consulting.

Makhunga founded the HR Matters company in 2002 as an outsource human resources solutions outfit servicing small, medium and large business, focusing on talent acquisition, training, consulting and HR administration. This has been the family focus for the past 13 years as he runs this business with his wife, Nozipho.

He said that although there had been challenges, the decision to change his career by joining commerce was a risk that has paid off handsomely in terms of personal growth and development.

One of Makhunga’s strengths is his entrepreneur spirit. He explains, “My mom and my aunt could not afford to provide much beyond the necessities when I was young, so I learnt to ‘hustle’ at an early age. At school sports days I would sell oranges. I was one of a few people who had a camera so l took photographs and would send the spool from Zululand to Durban to be printed and then sell the prints.” And he would full local school and township halls with people, at a fee, to watch hired movie reels, ‘bioscopes’, of cowboys, Tarzan and school set books, he reminisces with a smile.

Makhunga added that if it was up to him, be it at home, school and in society in general, youth would be encouraged to get out there early, to earn or learn to trade because in the end, the exchange of goods or services will exist forever where there is more than one human being, laws or no laws. Those endowed with these learned skills will survive no matter where they find themselves.

This entrepreneurial acumen saw the HR Matters company establish HR Matters Properties (HRMP) in 2007 as a property management, investment and services business.

A warehouse and logistics component is located at Pran Park at Dube TradePort. A location, which Makhunga says, provides a competitive advantage as it ticks off all the factors a distribution centre covering the RSA steel manufacturing market would require, including proximity to the ports of entry.

The desire to assist people in the communities Makhunga grew up in is apparent in his co-founding of the Nothani Education Trust ( This organisation contributes to efforts aimed at helping communities and individuals in Zululand to work themselves out of poverty.

Currently this effort is focused on funding for five students who can’t afford university study. Each qualifying student is provided a full scholarship for the duration of their study period. The funding criteria is set at students from a household who have less than a R6000 per month income, although this is about to change seeing they are competing with NSFAS with the new free tertiary education arrangement. Of importance the students are each assigned a mentor to ensure that they are able to stay focused and succeed in their chosen field of study. This ensures their assisted graduates have the needed social capital to facilitate finding opportunities after university which is a struggle for people coming from poor backgrounds with zero networks to plug into.

Makhunga commented, “I am passionate about the importance of education and vocational skills development to the extent I think the two could well be the panacea of all societal ills.”

In the past, Makhunga has been involved with the founding of Mothers-to-Mothers-to-Be (M2M2B) mentoring programme. This programme addresses the needs of pregnant women and mothers living with HIV. The programme recognises that these women need support and education and that the best people to provide these services are fellow mothers living with the HIV virus. The model advances six of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that most directly affect women and children’s health, development, and economic security.

“I get immense fulfilment from the philanthropy work I do or have done, with my friends and business associates,” he commented. In addition to philanthropic work, Makhunga enjoys motivating other local businesses to generate profits while serving a meaningful purpose and giving back to society.

As president of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), Makhunga is committed to ethical business practices and ensuring that local business leaders and government work together to stimulate the city’s economy.

“My role as president has allowed me to develop many insights into the leadership challenges in the business sector. Getting involved at a high level has allowed me to obtain a national perspective of current macro-economic issues in South Africa. Of significance it is necessary to balance business and societal needs; these needs should be as one, while often they pull in different directions. In addition, when balancing people’s needs and that of profit, we often walk a tight rope.”

“Currently, I find that South Africans are working in different directions and it is really important that everyone works together and presents a coherent message. This is especially relevant when trying to attract foreign investors, we are singing off different hymn sheets.”

Makhunga commented further that the opportunity to interact with people from the global chamber movement has allowed him the occasion to see how other countries perceive the work of business chambers.

“This is especially relevant where these activities are integrated into the local economic strategy. This has really opened my eyes to the work achieved by business chambers. The DCCI provides national and international platforms to facilitate inclusive and fair trade and I encourage other businesses to be part of this movement.”

In addition, South Africa has much unfinished business and it is necessary to get business and authorities to work together to address issues of inequality, poverty and slow economic growth. Of note the SDGs provide many opportunities where business can take the lead and work together in promoting socio economic development in society with its members and other key stakeholders. These goals are significant in that the DCCI’s vision is: “In Business for a Better World”.

Makhunga concluded, “We each have a responsibility to help South Africa grow â€" we can’t always leave assisting others to the next guy.”

Musa Makhunga - Paying It Forward

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