Imagine the first day of your first job. Think of everything that could possibly go wrong. Now imagine that you're one of the first Indian men in South Africa to become an electrical engineer, and your first job is right in the middle of Apartheid. That was Naresh Singh's first day – and he immediately found out that if he wanted to survive, he'd have to make people realise that race and competence had zero connections. He did.

"The corporate world in South Africa was a different place then," says Singh. "You had to be prepared to stand your ground to survive, let alone thrive. It is amazing how support from quarters you least expected can help you through these challenges."

At Mamba Mentors, each Mamba brings a different quality to the table – something that sets them apart. For Singh, it's grit: the sheer gumption to keep going against overwhelming odds. It's the quality that's gotten him to his current position, as the General Manager of Eskom's international offices in the UK. As his career progressed, Singh began to get involved in equity investment, and weathered some tough times to reach his current mountain-top. "2008 and 2009 were brutal years," he says, "and in the corporate environment, changes in legislation in 2006 presented significant challenges to my carefully mapped out plans."

Singh is a formidable Mamba Mentor, and someone perfectly placed to help entrepreneurs achieve their goals. "There is a lot that we as a developing country can learn from in dealing with the UK," he says of the links between Britain and South Africa. "The UK is also a huge market that, if properly accessed by South African businesses, can achieve quick gains for us. The quality of South African manufacturing and the significantly lower cost of labour presents opportunities that are yet untapped."

Quick Strikes:

  • Born: 19 September 1967
  • Scariest thing he's ever done: I have climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and Mt. Elbrus in Russia, both under extreme conditions where a number of variables could have resulted in catastrophic outcomes. However, I was most scared when I could not locate my son on a day of extremely high snowfall in the UK.
  • Business achievement he's most proud of: Being enticed into equity trading at a very early age, and the resultant success I was able to achieve from it. In the corporate environment where I spent most of my life, I have made economic regulation decisions that have improved the lives and pockets of all electricity users in South Africa.
  • The person he most admires: My father Dolan Singh. By a long shot.
  • What piece of advice would he give to prospective entrepreneurs in Mamba Mentors?: Be prepared to fail. Your ability to recover will determine your long term success. Very few entrepreneurs are successful at their first attempt.