Who's who in the non-white Web 2.0 South African Zoo

This blog post was updated for some corrections in June 2012.

Mandy de Waal, a freelance journalist, wrote this article on ITWeb, profiling top social media gurus in South Africa. When I first read it, I found offensive not because it’s inaccurate, rather because it is incomplete. The main reason I take issue with this is because it’s an example of lazy journalism. She interviewed eleven people, all white, asking them about their Web 2.0 dream team is. Maybe she did not have a non-white person on speed dial. Yet she could still have made her point without having to call them the white boys club.

Ramon Thomas “dream team” of black Social Media experts:

Vinny Lingham SEO guru Internet entrepreneurVinny Lingham: This is the one person I assumed Mandy de Waal would interviewed for her piece. Maybe she skipped him because he moved to San Francisco Bay Area for a period of time. I’m not sure where he was based at the time the initial column. Vinny is a master at raising start-up capital for his Internet business ventures. Beside his SEO background I believe his experience naturally leads him to role of business development. Persuading other people to invest their cash into your business is a crucial factor to business growth.

Khaya Dlanga youtube video blogger Khaya Dlanga: A video blogger on Youtube has over 10,000 subscribers on his Youtube channel. I first met him at the annual Digital Citizen Indaba, a blogging conference, at Rhodes University last year. In his day job he works for an advertising agency, according to his LinkedIn profile, the Jupiter Drawing Room, one of the top agencies in South Africa. Another feather in his cap is that Khaya is one of the contributors to the Mail & Guardian’s Thought Leader group blog. What I would like from Khaya is to produce a weekly video blog for myself and in turn I would like to help commercialise his videos. There is a great potential to create a DVDs (like the Ask a Ninja DVD) based on his videos and sell this online, direct to home or to video rental chains in South Africa. His outstanding quality is his sharp sense of humour and wit.

Rafiq Phillips SEO guru bloggerRafiq Phillips: Cape Town based SEO expert, hardcore technology blogger and Internet evangelist blogs at WebAddict. He is the co-creator of iDrive a portal for finding driving schools in South Africa. Both of us represented South Africa as bloggers at the TEDGlobal Conference in Tanzania last year. The iDrive platform was accessible on MXit until recently. The innovation from him has led to him being featured on a Carte Blanche segment in March 2008. Rafiq would be the obvious person to run search engine campaigns and also act as the lead blogger to drive traffic and attention.

Charles Ash bruin-ou.com webmasterCharles Ash: The founder of the Bruin-ou.com community portal for multiracial or mixed race people. Charles has a technical background in the IT industry and started this community website while living in Cape Town a few years ago. Its been a labour of love for him and I was once more directly involved. He has built a 10,000 strong user community and a website that generates over 3.5 million page views per month with zero funding or institutional support. Since he started his own hosting company, Charles would be my choice to run the technical back-end from hosting to system administration.

Nur Ahmad Furlong designerNur Ahmed Furlong Cape Town based WordPress guruNur Ahmad Furlong: A web strategist and graphic designer also based in Cape Town. He blogs at Nomad-One and also at TechLeader. From what I can tell he is a fantastic designer but what really strikes me as unique is his ethically motivated approach to business. The fact that he has been spearheaded the launch of WordPress meetings in Cape Town is a testament to his passion for getting the good word about the WordPress open source blogging platform out and bringing together the growing community of enthusiasts in South Africa. I look forward to having him redo some professional blog designs for me in the near future and maybe some other branding work that requires a sharp eye for detail.

Yusuf Mahomedy Worksucks authorYusuf Mahomedy: Author, work radical and blogger at Worksucks and Work911 on The Times. His professional track record is impeccable as a Tax Consultant at Ernst & Young and Senior Manager in HR at MTN Group. What impresses me about him the most is his output: he has published 2 books (Worksucks & Smart Reward Strategies) and contributes to trade journals like HR Future. Since 2007 we have delivered several seminars together and most recently this Internet Cafe workshop. What I would like from him is help in self-publishing my own book, and also putting all the business processes in place, especially those who focus on human resources as I continue grow my business and move from casual to full-time employment of people.

Mario Olckers copywriter graphic designerMario Olckers: A multi skilled web developer, blogger, copywriter, graphic designer at Hogsback Media Networks. Mario was first introduced to me by Charles Ash, and even though we have not yet collaborated we have had numerous conversations. His skills in copywriting are what I need the most. You can also follow him on Twitter since I deleted my account.

Consider some statistics from TechLeader group blog in terms of contributors by race:

Race Contributors Percentage
white 54 88.52%
black 2 3.28%
coloured 0 0.00%
indian 5 8.20%

What about me, Ramon Thomas? Interested in my contributions to Web 2.0 or Social Media in South Africa. Read or listen to the following interviews:

Sometimes I wonder will South African media ever, ever be more representative. When white people own most of the media companies, produce most of the radio or television content, publish (edit) most of the newspapers, magazines or websites, what do you expect?


Reducing Technology Stress in a Wireless World

You are invited to a this event hosted by Ramon Thomas in association with BulkSMS. These briefings have been designed to be fully interactive and will be looking at real-life examples, common mistakes and effective ways to reduce technology stress in a wireless world.

The cellphone has become an indispensable part of our working life, but our increased accessibility comes at a psychological cost. The cellphone comes with the blessing or burden of the ring. The phone rings and it needs to be answered or left to bother us or those around us. Our decision to answer the phone, be it at home or at the office, means that we disturb the people within earshot of our conversation. Personal issues could be verbally displayed in and around the office, interrupting colleagues. Work could be discussed in the confines of our homes taking up the precious time spent with family. People should be empowered to control their phone, otherwise their phones will control them.

The increase in cellphone usage for work and private calls or messaging can be a source of irritation. This talk will focus on ways that the cellphone and SMS messaging can be used to improve workplace productivity keeping the, sometimes welcome, interruption that the cellphone brings to a minimum and also ways that current technology can be used to reduce what is becoming commonly known as technology stress.

Dr Pieter Streicher BulkSMSSpeakers include Dr Piet Streicher, MD of BulkSMS and Ramon Thomas, leading authority in the psychology of technology.

Other information:
Participants will receive a comprehensive set of notes relating to the workshop, together with supplementary handouts. Participants will also receive tip sheets, and other supporting information, to take away for future reference. Each workshop will be 2 hours long and cost R150 pp.

Some of the topics that will be discussed include:

– 10 Steps for Cleaning up Information Pollution
– The Mobile Worker in South Africa
– The Multitasking Myth
– Increasing Focus and Productivity in the 21st Century office
– Strategies for the Automated Lifestyle

Cape Town:
Date: Thursday 17 April
Venue: The Cullinan Hotel
Time: 15h00 – 17h00 with networking afterwards (drinks & snacks provided)

Date: Thursday 15 May
Venue: Balalaika Hotel, Sandton
Time: 15h00 – 17h00 with networking afterwards (drinks & snacks provided)

Date: Wednesday 28 May
Venue: Blue Waters, Central City District
Time: 15h00 – 17h00 with networking afterwards (drinks & snacks provided)

To register, email Deirdre van Zyl Smit at rsvp@bulksms.com or call her on 082 3244 639 today.


Link To Your World podcast interview

Recently I was approached to do an interview about the rise of the individual with Link To Your World. Some of the points I discussed was how I moved from working in the corporate sector to starting my own business. And I also discussed the power of social networking and social influence to position you as an expert in your industry.

You can download or listen to the podcast interview with Mike Orshan here.


Bloggers represent South Africa at TEDGlobal Conference

Two of South Africa’s leading bloggers will be attending the first ever TEDGlobal conference in Arusha, Tanzania from 4-7 June 2007.

30 May 2007 (Johannesburg): South Africa will be represented by two of it’s most distinguished bloggers at the TEDGlobal Conference held in Africa for the first time.

TED (Technology Entertainment Design) is an annual conference held in Monterey, California and recently, semi-annually in other cities around the world as TEDGlobal. The presentations, normally limited to 20 minutes, cover a broad set of topics including science, arts, politics, global issues, architecture, music and more. The speakers themselves are from a wide variety of communities and disciplines.

Nine South Africans have been awarded Fellowships to attend. These Fellowships are sponsored by multinationals like AMD, GE and Google and covers the costs of attending the TEDGlobal conference for those who would not otherwise be able to attend.

“We are very excited to represent South Africa at such an important global conference,” says Ramon Thomas, Managing Director of NETucation, an online research and training organisation. “The conference will expose us to our counterparts in the rest of Africa, and we look forward to collaborating with them to build a new future for Africa.” Thomas will be bloggingu the conference at his www.netucation.co.za, which was a finalist in the Best Business Blog catergory at the SA Blog Awards recently.

The TED.com website has won accolades and awards for it’s video podcasts of the lectures. There are currently a 109 videos available for download from the website and every month new ones are released to the public from the most recent in 2007 going back to 2002 at the moment. The speakers include lumanaries such as Jane Goodal, Richard Dawkins, Ashraf Ghani, former Iraq Finance minister, and many more. Several of the videos focus on solutions for Africa and the thirds world in the areas of poverty alleviation, architecture and town planning.

The conference co-producer is, Emeka Okafor, who spoke with Thomas, at the first Blogging Indaba held at Rhodes University’s New Media Lab in September 2006. Okafor, is a Nigerian living in New York, and blogs about business in Africa at http://timbuktuchronicles.blogspot.com. TED invited him to act as program director because of his intimate knowledge of unusual entreprenerial business in Africa.

“I’m thrilled to be attending a TED conference after watching and learning from all the amazing video clips from past events available on their website.”, says Rafiq Phillips, one of the top 10 bloggers in South Africa and co-founder of iDRIVE.co.za – a driving school search egnine, has also been selected with Thomas to attend TEDGlobal as a Fellow. Phillips will be blogging his experiences at www.webaddict.co.za.

There are over 25 South Africans who will attend TEDGlobal as Fellows, attendees, speakers, performers and technicians.

For more on TEDGlobal please visit:


Ramon Thomas
Managing Director, NETucation
Mobile 082 940-7137

Rafiq Phillips
Founder, Your Group of Web AddiCT(s)
Tel 021 591-3321
Cell 072 399-9888


Summary of the first Internet Cafe workshop

First Internet Cafe Workshop JohannesburgThank you very much for attending our first workshop on Saturday, 24th March. This e-mail is a summary of what was discussed and some suggestions on the next steps for you to consider.

If you have your deposit and a venue contact Terry to place your order on (011) 8346755 contact Ramon Thomas.

The aim of these workshops is to set the scene for those of you who have considered running and Internet Cafe as a small business. This is not yet a franchise business but we are considering that option. The main points we discussed is as follows:

  1. The infrastructure components of the Internet Cafe
  2. The benefits and advantages of this type of small business
  3. Revenue sources
  4. Background on the Internet industry
  5. Background on Ramon Thomas (NETucation) / Terry Mohlala (Terry Computers)
  6. Basic Costs Breakdown + Income Estimations
  7. Internet Cafe Industry Portal www.internetcafedirectory.co.za

To download the Powerpoint Presentation click here. If you have problems downloading the presentation please reply to this e-mail and I’ll send it to you. I’ve decided not to attach the presentation to make this e-mail as small as possible.

Get Your Copy of the Workshop DVD

Ramon Thomas explaining Revenue SourcesAs you may know a recording was made of the workshop including the Q&A and this is available on DVD. To purchase this DVD simply call Terry on (011) 8346755.

Business Plan and Financing

The first problem most people face in starting a business is financing the business. The starting point when seeking financing is to have a business plan. So I’m sending you a sample business plan – also attached. This needs some work from your part to rewrite with your own details and work through some of the numbers. Again through the Business Place you can access experts that will help you writing your business plan. Please contact them via their website here: www.thebusinessplace.co.za or call them on (011) 836 9000.

Marketing Research

If you have some uncertainties about your market size, your competition and you feel like you need some research to be more sure about setting up an Internet Cafe contact me directly on 082 9407137. I am happy to meet with you at your earliest convenience to take this further…

Some Resources