Summary Profile"There is always something new out of Africa.”
It was Pliny the Elder, the famed Roman scholar and scientist, who noted this around the same time that Jesus Christ walked the earth.
Almost two thousand years later, Pliny’s statement would ring true for an Englishman called Mark Mead when he came to South Africa as a young entrepreneur exploding with energy and ambition.
To go back a bit, Mark was born in the UK in 1961, and even at a young age his blazing entrepreneurial gifts were apparent.
Mark started working at just 11, and well before he matriculated he had held an impressive array of jobs and occupations, varying from routine to rather unique, to put it mildly.
In no particular order these included being a newspaper delivery boy, working as a porter, packing supermarket boxes, supplying his school’s tuck shop with sweets, spending time as a postman, and picking potatoes on farms. And let’s not forget Mark’s venture that involved him retrieving golf balls from a chilly lake – and then selling them back to the golfers.
After matriculating, Mark went into the formal sector, working as a management trainee for the massive British Steel Corporation. But a hunger for bold new horizons burnt like a fire in him, and in 1984 he left England for South Africa – which he now regards as his home.
And with his unquenchable entrepreneurial spirit running strong, he branched into a series of business ventures that bought him material success at a very young age indeed.
But there’s far more to life and personal growth than just serving one’s self, and just one of the many ventures that Mark was involved with included negotiating a two million US dollar contract to send food products out of South Africa to American and United Nations troops operating in Somalia.
Today Mark heads a multi-million rand-automotive import and export company that trades in Africa, the Middle East and Europe, and it’s hardly surprising that not does he travel extensively, but he also has a vast network of friends, colleagues and business partners of all colours, creeds and cultures, around the globe.
And as testament to his wide-ranging travels to far-flung locations, Mark has endured all manner of exotic illnesses , from yellow fever to dysentery. He has also undergone three major back operations, and lives with Type 1 Diabetes, but this doesn’t slow him down in the slightest in what he terms “the amazing journey of life.” And because a large part of this journey involves giving back, Mark is deeply involved in a host of charities. These include the Elsen Academy (a facility for children with learning disabilities), the African Bird of Prey Sanctuary, which is located outside Pietermaritzburg in KZN, Hillcrest AIDS Orphans, and a range of SPCAs.
This acclaimed entrepreneur and commodity trader is also the Africa ambassador for Liverpool Football Club’s Jamie Carragher’s “23 Foundation,” which raises money worldwide to help children with life-threatening illnesses.
But above all, Mark seeks to awake the entrepreneurial spirit in this country’s young people. In his words, he is “teaching the children not to fit in, but to stand out.”
And with South Africa’s chronic unemployment rate – which is up to 50 percent among the youth – as well as extremely high levels of poverty and inequality, Mark maintains that now is the best time to promote entrepreneurship as a means of achieving dreams beyond one’s wildest imagination.
Indeed, by thinking out of the box and opting for self-employment, Mark firmly believes that a great future awaits not just the youth of this country, but the youth of this whole continent.
Amazing as it might sound, Mark, who now calls Hillcrest in KZN his home, still finds time to spend with his family, and to enjoy interests such as reading, writing, photography and travel – as well as, of course, motivational speaking.
Listen carefully to Mark’s message. Absorb it. It might be the most life-altering thing you ever hear.