Haroun Pochee – Roshgold Founder and Community Activist

If you haven’t already invested with Roshgold personally, one of your close relatives or friends probably have, or you may have heard about the Shariah-compliant investment company through different media avenues.

For its stakeholders, Roshgold Investment Holdings Limited provides stable, Islamic-suitable financial ventures that benefit the broader community. Behind the great returns, hospital savings plans, entrepreneur development programmes and investment portfolios, lies Haroun Pochee – the real heart and soul of the company.

A man who wears many hats, Mr Pochee defines himself first and foremost as the creation and servant of Allah, a father and grandfather second to that, and lastly, a businessman and community activist. He is a member of many local organisations and derives satisfaction from seeing social upliftment.

Growing up in the Vaal, in the south of Johannesburg, during the pinnacle of the apartheid era, there were no high schools in the area. Haroun travelled more than 36km daily by train to attend classes in the frontier town of Lenasia. He moved even further from home to attain his business degree at the University of Westville in Durban. While studying there, he interacted and conversed with a collective of young academics; future politicians and community leaders from around the country. These life-shaping interpersonal experiences impacted him tremendously.

Employed in a predominantly white workplace while still living on the coast, Haroun mentions that in order to prove himself, he had to work twice as hard. His experience there also exposed him to a side of finance which he found seriously lacking in local Muslim communities at the time. He eventually moved back to Johannesburg where his auditing career took him from Vereeniging to all parts of the city. The long and tiring daily commute finally took its toll, and Haroun decided to resign and start his own business instead.

What began with five friends who established a stokvel in Roshnee more than 30 years ago, is now one of the leading Islamic investment organisations in South Africa, with more than 3000 employees countrywide. The name ‘Roshgold’ is derived from a combination of its founders’ hometown, ‘Rosh’nee and ‘gold’, because initially, their idea was to invest in the precious metal only.

Haroun Pochee with the Proudly Muslims of SA team and Khalil Aleker of AccidentalMuslims.com

They pioneered the concept at a time when there were no Islamic financial institutions and faced much pessimism from the public, who had previously witnessed many failures in this field. “We had to make sure to develop an organisation that would stand the test of time but also show what it can do for the Ummah,” explains Mr Pochee.

Roshgold Investment Holdings Limited runs a very diverse operation. Community resources are pooled together to facilitate investments and spawn property syndication where shareholders contribute to new developments. Haroun says that what makes Roshgold flexible and appealing is that there is no compulsion to have structural savings. Investors only deposit an amount they can afford each month. There are no penalties if they miss a monthly payment or if they put in less than the agreed total.

They’ve also tapped into the bankable mining industry by introducing Roshmetals and Minerals to potential investors, offering them promising returns on mining resources and metal equities listed on the JSE.

The Roshmed Hospital Scheme is yet another of the group’s ingenious ideas. This unique medical aid is modelled on an Islamic ethos of compassion and provides the best services to members at leading facilities. In this day and age when medical costs are financially crippling, the hospital scheme remains affordable. The scheme also assists those in need, often partnering with IMA (Islamic Medical Association) to fund cataract operations on the West Rand.

Haroun has the Proudly Muslims of SA team in stitches.

Roshgold yields much more than financial gain and prosperity for their members. The idea behind it has always been to benefit the wider community and Ummah. Haroun and his team strongly believe in supporting and uplifting new businesses and young entrepreneurs. Growing Hands is a development program which Roshgold initiated to assist small home-based and informal businesses in terms of education, training, mentorship, support and finance. They encourage savvy entrepreneurs to compete for the annual Roshgold Young Business Achiever Award, and winners are offered a fantastic selection of prizes that will help boost their businesses. The group has also partnered with the ‘Jozi Books and Blog Festival’ for four years, to promote reading and writing.

Their catchphrase, “Your youth is our future” instils the notion of ‘saving’ from a young age. Haroun mentions, “If we don’t develop our young people, then nobody’s there to look after them”. The Roshgold Kidz Club offers educational programs, sponsors schools and shares expertise in different academic subjects. “The dynamism of youth makes us old people feel young again,” he laughs.

Islam waves a vast influential flag over his life. He says that being Muslim means that you adopt certain value systems which ensures that everything you do is for the pleasure of Allah. This moral guide separates the capitalistic side of business from the humanitarian one; instead of focusing only on maximum returns, Roshgold models their investments to benefit the entire community, and strengthen the ties of the Ummah. Haroun mentions a priceless business lesson imparted to him by a former mentor: “Look after peoples’ money as if it’s your own, if not better than your own”. Accountability is the key to the success of Roshgold Investments.

Khalil Aleker from AccidentalMuslims.com, pictured with Mr Pochee

When asked to define success, Haroun states: “Success is what you do for others. It doesn’t have to be with money. If you can just empower one person as you go along, that’s success.”

His aspirations for the future are to remain in good health and to continually develop Roshgold, the community and future leaders. Haroun would like to convey his sense of passion and commitment to the next generation so that the Roshgold legacy can live on for another 30 years.

Mr Pochee says he is a firm believer in causes like Proudly Muslims of South Africa because it facilitates networking, promotes the purpose of doing things jointly and introduces future contributors – volunteers and skilled professionals – to the field of operation.

He would use the last of his life’s breath to ask for forgiveness, as you can never be certain if there’s someone you may have wronged in the past. “No matter what we have, we go with nothing, we didn’t come with anything, Allah’s been good enough to give us whatever we have,” he adds.

Mr Pochee would like society to remember him as someone who tried to uplift those in need of motivation and help.

He advises the youth to “stop living for the now”, and rather invest wisely in order to develop, grow and sustain their businesses.

Haroun values time above all, since we can never have enough of it, and advises us to use it productively.

Started by the community for the community, Roshgold Investment Holdings Limited puts people first. Haroun and his team give entrepreneurs the tools to build their professional dreams and pave their unique roads to success. According to Mr Pochee’s remarkable insight gained through personal experience; every start-up and home-grown business has the opportunity to invest in themselves. “Start small, build and grow,” Haroun encourages everyone, young and old, to set aside their savings for a more prosperous future. 

May we all display a similar level of dedication and faith to draw inspiration from his success story and follow in his footsteps.

For more information, please visit www.roshgold.co.za

 

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