This Entrepreneur Shares Why It’s Important To Take Care Of Your Health

When your health suffers, so does your ability to do business.

Kirsten Curtis |

From a young age, Emmanuel Bonoko knew he wanted to make a difference in the world. Growing up, he lived with his grandparents in Limpopo. They taught him the importance of having faith and working hard towards his goals. Night after night he worked towards his dreams. The effort he put into his studies was rewarded with many academic awards throughout his schooling career. But focusing on his studies wasn’t enough. If he was to be truly great, he needed to do well in all areas of life. He enrolled in various extra-mural activities including the choir, cricket, and hockey.

But Emmanuel’s constant focus on his dreams led to him walking a lonely life. “Most people at my age misunderstood how passionate I was about developing my full potential and chasing my dreams without apologising for it,” he explains. “I lost many friends and I was alone because of the hunger I had to pursue my vision.”

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Even then, Emmanuel knew he didn’t want to become a lawyer or a doctor. His plan for the future didn’t include working for somebody else. He would be in charge of his own destiny. After passing matric with several distinctions, he took his hard-working attitude from school to university, pursuing a B.Comm degree and majoring in marketing.

Throughout high school, the young entrepreneur organised school events and fundraising activities, which sparked his passion for marketing, a skill he hoped would benefit him the day he opened his own company.

In 2012, during his first year as a student, Emmanuel founded the Ebonoko Foundation. Now, the foundation has donated 16 000 books across South Africa and provided bursaries to other young students across South Africa. “The foundation has done extremely well in empowering the youth in education, mentorship, training, and helping them develop their own passion,” explains Emmanuel.

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Through the success of his foundation, Emmanuel was able to establish a consulting and marketing company called Ebonoko Holdings. “It offers business strategy development, public relations, events management, brand management, and digital marketing.”

Riding the wave of success, Emmanuelle was living out the childhood dream he had worked so hard towards. “I was using my influence to make an impact in my community and educating younger people by showing them that you don’t need to be a millionaire first to bring the change you want to see.” His work led to him being listed on Forbes Africa’s 30 Under 30 in 2016.

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But while the entrepreneur put in the hours to make his dream become a reality, he neglected one major component of his life –  his health. In 2016, Emmanuel had to be hospitalised. “It was such a painful experience for me, but I had such good support from my family, my late mom, my friends, and my business partner.”

The doctors explained that his unhealthy eating habits and high caffeine intake were wreaking havoc on his health. This coupled with working nonstop led to severe fatigue. The experience was a wake-up call for Emmanuel. He realised that it wasn’t enough to chase after his dreams if he wasn’t taking care of himself while doing it. “Being hospitalised taught me to value and appreciate life. It taught me to take ownership of what I eat and what I drink. It also taught me to love and appreciate my family.”

emmanuel bonoko giving entrepreneur advice

Since his stay in the hospital, Emmanuel has placed greater focus on his health and fitness. “If you’re eating the right foods and keeping fit, your body will be strong and will help you cope with stress and  fight illness.” Emmanuel has cut out all junk food and reduced the amount of sugar he consumes. “I eat a lot of veggies, and I drink a lot of water.” He also exercises regularly now and gets enough sleep.

The entrepreneur has recovered fully since his stay in the hospital. He is once again working towards empowering the youth and future entrepreneurs. His advice? “One, never be afraid or embarrassed of struggle. There is absolutely no shame in working hard to get to where you want to be, and two – learn to invest in yourself as an entrepreneur. Build relationships and increase your business acumen.”

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