The BOSASA Story
BOSASA’s history begins when Gavin Watson acquired Meritum Hostels, a wholly white-owned business, and started transforming it, first into Dyambu Operations, then BOSASA Operations and finally the BOSASA Group. The BOSASA story mirrors that of democratic South Africa: with courage and principled leadership an apartheid-era “white” entity was transformed into a fully integrated group at the forefront of Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE).
BOSASA’s activities now extend across South Africa. BOSASA’s management services and solutions include risk; safety and security; information technology; solar power; business process; project management; property and facilities; fleet management; rehabilitation; repatriation; youth development; training; catering and health and wellness.
Crossing the Line
For most white South Africans in the 1970s, rugby was an identity, not a game. Official policy prohibited racially mixed rugby clubs and matches. “Nobody wants to lose his identity,” said Danie Craven, rugby supremo.
But four brothers in Port Elizabeth resisted. The Watsons ignored threats of “serious consequences” and instigated a township rugby match between two mixed teams in 1976. Hundreds of spectators converged in the dust. At the jubilant conclusion they carried the players off the field to an impromptu party, while the police glowered from their vehicles.
The Watsons had made a moral choice and became part of the struggle to change South Africa.
Their downtown clothing store in Port Elizabeth attracted customers from all sides of the racial divide. Comrades from KWARU (Kwazakhele Rugby Union), the “black” rugby union for which the brothers now played and townsfolk all struggled to make themselves heard over the Christian music.
From Humble Beginnings
Compelled by this heritage and his personal faith in Jesus Christ, Gavin Watson, eldest of the four brothers and fluent in isiXhosa, launched a new business career in 1996. He was – and still is – striving for true equality, non-discrimination and empowerment, in business as in society.
Watson named his enterprise Dyambu, which means “rising sun”. But the new dawn of transformation in business was by no means cloudless. Faced with a dearth of experienced managers from previously disadvantaged groups, he mentored staff himself. Many women and young people seized their opportunity for proper training and Watson built a diverse, but tightly-knit executive team.
From Dyambu, the rising sun, rose BOSASA, “the future”, with the same core values of social justice and empowerment. The goal of equity drives the BOSASA Group to maintain BBBEE throughout the group, not only in shareholding as many other companies do, but also in staff complement at all organisational levels and operations.
BOSASA – the Future
BOSASA will keep on empowering people, giving back to communities and providing specialised services to major clients across South Africa, with patriotism and hope for bosasa – the future.