To learn from the best what works in the Lowveld business environment, sign up for the Lowveld Big Challenge campaign today.

MBOMBELA – Making his first million at the age of 21, climbing to Mount Everest base camp, raising funds, and attending international speaking engagements, are just some of the projects Mr Ettiene Pretorius attempts in a single year.


The founder of the Lowveld Big Challenge says joining Sir Richard Branson and 20 influential leaders on Necker Island in 2014 to discuss the future of the planet, made him see what life and the word “giving” was all about. This businessman, who grew up in the Lowveld, remarked that what you have at the end of your life will be determined by how much you gave.


“To me personally it’s all about having a balanced lifestyle, being able to do business and create international relationships together while having fun doing it,”


Pretorius said. A social entrepreneur and real-estate developer, he showed an entrepreneurial spirit from a very young age. He was six when he started his first business selling beer and brandy to the 350 farm workers employed by his family.


At age 10 he made his first investment when he bought a coin-operated foosball table, which taught him the principles of passive income.


By age 11 Pretorius had learnt a most important lesson when he, and many of his family’s friends, lost their life savings when they bought into a local Lowveld pyramid scheme in 1993.


“There is no such thing as easy money,” he said.


In his first year at university he realised how expensive campus attire was and that he could supply the students with the same products at half the price. It also earned him Absa’s top entrepreneur award in 2005.


In his third year he made his first investment in real estate. A year later, while completing his honours degree, he made his first million at age 21, by completing his first development on the property he owned.


Pretorius started his career in real estate after identifying a need for student housing in Potchefstroom. It was after implementing some game-changing strategies in the real-estate sector, that his brokerage firm increased business from five deals in nine months to 76 deals in six months.


As a result he received an award for the best office of Engel & Völkers in Southern Africa in his first year of opening shop.


“People with money aren’t always influential, but influential people will always have money,” Pretorius said. “I make my team part of the experience and I educate. I do not negotiate. People are my passion, business is my game and money is just a tool.”


He believes that one of the key elements of success is sharing knowledge and experience with as many people as possible. In Lowveld Big Challenge 26 top influential businessmen and -women will share their knowledge and experience which has been built on a local methodology, so that local people can learn, earn and return from the influencers around them rather than learn from businessmen from overseas who have no context about our local environment.


One of these is none other than the former caddy of Nelspruit Golf Club who became a billionaire in just a few years by positioning and surrounding himself with people of influence, Mr Robert Gumede himself.


“Success should have a different meaning for every individual out there because of our multiracial and cultural differences in South Africa,” Pretorius said.


He explained his personal definition of success as the power of the choices he makes in life that inspire other people to become significant.


He boasts a solid track record, and attributes much of his success to exposing himself to different environments, people, opportunities and problems which allow him to put the bigger picture into context and then rely on mentors, coaches and professionals to help him make decisions.


Join Pretorius and other business people at Emnotweni Arena on September 17 from 08:00 to 10:00 to hear what, according to him, it takes to achieve this kind of success. Also register for Lowveld Big Change, where one person’s current business or idea will be identified to go on the journey that will change their life.

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