AIM graduate hits career gas

09 December 2002
It's a gas: AIM graduand Vuyo Gcilishe is helping to set up Kulani Africa Gas, South Africa's first provider of liquid petroleum gas.

TWO YEARS ago then-computer programmer Vuyo Gcilishe wasn't too sure what alternative career paths were open to him.

But now, with a Graduate School of Business Action AIM (Associate in Management) programme under his belt, he is just about ready to change the way South Africans fill up their cars.

Gcilishe and five associates over the past weekend — just days before he is due to graduate — opened South Africa's first Kulani Africa Gas filling station in Lansdowne Road, Lansdowne, which became the country's sole purveyor of liquid petroleum gas (LPG).

LPG, Gcilishe explains, is a cheap, environmentally friendly alternative to petrol and diesel and, with the simple installation of a retrofit kit, will allow a car to run on either petrol or gas.

LPG is commonly used in the United States, Asia, Europe and especially Australia, where it fuels one in four vehicles.

Gcilishe got involved with Kulani Africa Gas after he was approached by Chris Roed, a fellow congregant from the Uzuko Lwakhe Church in Khayelitsha, with the LPG business proposal.

He hesitated initially — “nobody needed to write a computer programme” — but changed his mind after signing up for the GSB's modular AIM programme in 2001 on the advice of another church member, Chloe George.

“AIM transformed me,” he says. “After AIM, I was so confident I felt I could open any door of opportunity.”

For now, Gcilishe's days are filled with travels, boardroom negotiations and copious spreadsheets, a far cry from his programming days at Telkom. “I'm enjoying this,” he enthuses.

“I'm so grateful for what the GSB has done for me, and once Kulani grows, I'll definitely want to set up a partnership with the School.”

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