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The Remarkable Robert of Guma Group of Companies

Who is Robert Gumede?

Robert Gumede, 55, is the fifth child of seven in Nelspruit. He serves as the Founder at Guma Group (Pty) Ltd.

Gumede has had a prolific experience as an entrepreneur and a hard worker. Beginning at the early age of seven, when he began to help his mother in her second-hand clothes business. After school he also worked as a gardener and a petrol attendant to supplement his single mother’s income. His mother was often not home because of work so Robert stayed in a three roomed house in Nelspruit with his grandmother and 11 relatives.

 

Where did Robert Gumede study?

Gumede studied Law at the University of Zululand. Robert and some donations from the members at the golf course where he was caddy and gardener funded his tertiary education. He was a very studious young man with good grades, played sport and got involved in the cultural aspects of school such as debating and the theater club. Robert graduated from the University of Zululand in 1986 with a Dip Juris, a diploma.

Where has Robert Gumede worked?

After studying, Gumede worked as a clerk and prosecutor at the Kabokweni Magistrate’s Court.

In 1988, he started Gijima Electronic And Security Systems (Pty) Ltd, which is the flagship company of Guma Group. He moved to Johannesburg in 1992 to build the business from there. He opened a small office – Guma Group’s first office, in a basement located within an industrial park. As they were a relatively new business, he had to learn effective networking and marketing to win clients. He was also the business development executive of LTA (now Grinaker-LTA) during his time in Johannesburg. In the mid-1990s he registered several Gijima companies, including a firm that provided protection services to the Mpumalanga government.

In 1999, Gumede’s Gijima consortium got a R800-million contract to develop an electronic identification system. He bought 26% of Applied Card Technologies (ACT) from John Sterenborg to enter the smart-card market in August 2000. A year later Gijima bought the balance of ACT’s shares. In 2002 Gijima Afrika Smart Technologies (GAST) won a multi-million-rand tender from Telkom to produce phone cards.

Robert shot to prominence in 2005 when listed IT firm AST sold 37% of its shares to Gijima. All the original Gijima companies changed their names to Guma.

Through Guma, Gumede also has an interest in tourism group Tourvest, and the Gauteng Lions rugby union.

Gumede has built a business empire, owning Guma Group,  a group that covers eight sectors: Investments and Private Equity;  Infrastructure and Construction; Information & Communications Technology; Energy; Railways, Mining; Tourism & Hospitality; Water & Sanitation; and Strategic Business Consulting. Robert’s company services 90 of the top 100 companies in South Africa.

What is the future of Guma Group of Companies?

Robert & his company Guma Group seek to expand their operations into new sectors such as renewable energy, information technology for taxation and population registration with a citizen card, and water purification among other things. Gumede thinks it’s unfortunate that Africa is home to most of the world’s fresh water reserves and yet so many people across Africa struggle to get clean water to drink. This is tragic, and the Guma Group is exploring ways to solve this problem for Africa’s poorest people. Currently, they have interests across the continent and with international partners beyond our borders, such as China. They are consistently exploring new regions to expand their investments, innovate where they can and deploy their present portfolio.

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