Mertech Marine: an underwater environmental solution

Mertech Marine: an underwater environmental solution

An investee company of Mergon, Mertech Marine has been pioneering and innovating turnkey solutions to the submarine telecommunication industry since 2004. Today they are considered the world leader in this particular field. This article highlights how the company is contributing to the circular economy with creative solutions for environmental sustainability, emphasising a core belief for Mergon: that business can serve as a powerful force for good.

Mertech Marine: an underwater environmental solution

When we think of the internet, our thoughts tend to ascend upward, to images of cyberspace and satellites. But the reality is, the cloud is under the sea. Across our oceans’ seabed lie a planetary system of undersea cables – an interconnected web of over 1 million kilometres worth of fibre optic pipelines facilitating our global connectivity. Each cable, as thick as a garden hose, carries hundreds of terabits of information per second. These cables comprise a state-of-the-art technological design that sits kilometres deep, relatively undeterred by weather and connecting our continents at the speed of light.

But the system has its vulnerabilities to disruption. Cables break, whether it be from external aggression caused by human activity such as fishing or general abrasion over time. Not only do cables suffer wear and tear, they need to be laid at a breakneck pace to meet the global appetite of our 21st-century digital world.

‘To meet the demand for high-speed connectivity, every year thousands of kilometers of brand-new cables are being laid, often crossing existing cables and cable routes. This congestion of cables in some areas increases the risk of a break due to abrasion of one cable on top of another,’ says Alwyn du Plessis, CEO of Mertech Marine. Although these cables occupy a minute amount of space on the vast ocean floor and have been shown to be benign in terms of environmental impact, you can imagine that if you extrapolate that over the next 50-100 years, there will be a lot of cable down there. Taking a holistic view and considering a wide range of factors in each instance such as environmental, sustainability, economical and cable security, clearing up as much of these cables as possible makes a lot of sense.’

Since 2004, Mertech Marine has been at the forefront of innovating the recovery and recycling of out-of-service telecommunications cables. Using their own marine fleet, the company has recovered and recycled in excess of 100,000 km of out-of-service cable at their land-based processing facility in South Africa, which comprises 30,000 sqm, the only one of its kind in the world.

Today Mertech Marine is recognised to be a pioneer and world leader in turnkey solutions in submarine cable recovery and recycling, particularly in shore-end projects where cables crisscross and converge as they approach landfall. Mertech Marine is uniquely positioned to safely remove these redundant cables with greater efficiency and affordability by combining these often expensive shallow water projects with deep-sea recovery operations.

Mertech Marine is also playing its part in the circular economy.

There’s an incredible opportunity to make a meaningful, large-scale contribution to the green economy here,’ says Alwyn. ‘Although these cables are no longer operable, they should never be seen as waste. They’re packed with raw materials that can be repurposed and circulated back into the economy.’

He explains: ‘Consider the carbon footprint companies leave by conventional mining of virgin plastics, copper and steel, and then manufacturing these materials into marketable commodities. Now consider how much lighter the carbon load could be if these materials could be ‘recovered from the sea’ and regenerated as new, value-add products on the market.’

Through significant investment of its shareholders and years of research and development, Mertech Marine’s unique process of recovery and dismantling these out-of-services cables has proven to avoid greenhouse gas emissions when compared to mining virgin material from ore. Their Port Elizabeth facility is ISO14001:2015 accredited and a fundamental part of their mission is to find environmentally friendly and sustainable solutions toward recycling these cables. ‘We not only supply quality components to the copper, polyethylene, steel and aluminium industries all over Africa – we do it in an environmentally sustainable way,’ says Alwyn.

Mertech Marine has found their anchor in world class innovation and sustainable design. It’s a model that Alwyn sees as ‘part of our responsibility as businesses in today’s changing world’.

‘We have to move from linear to circular thinking in our businesses, finding innovative ways to generate value from the resources we already have. The sooner we can make the shift to a circular economy in our businesses, the greater advantage we’ll have in the long run.’

Mertech Marine is an investee company of Mergon. To read more about Mertech Marine visit

Partnering for success and significance

In this episode of Our Mergon Journey podcast, Mergon CEO Pieter Faure, COO Gauché Radley, and director Almero Strauss delve into the details of our investment approach by taking us through the hallways of Mergon’s history to the pivotal year of 2008, when founder Francois van Niekerk handed over the leadership reigns to Pieter Faure. Inspired to nurture their entrepreneurial drive, the young team initiated the groundwork for partnerships and measurable impact through early-stage investments in South Africa. Here is an overview of this insightful conversation.

A fork in the road: choosing the entrepreneurial path

In 2008 the team found themselves at a critical T-junction: either to adopt a capital preservation approach, conservatively growing the portfolio over time, or to embrace a more entrepreneurial path and start reinvesting in younger, earlier stage businesses. They opted for the latter – a choice that required new faith and fresh eyes for opportunity. ‘Until that point, our investment focus was primarily on South African property,’ said Almero. ‘Although that remained an important part of the portfolio, we wanted to diversify and explore new investment opportunities beyond South Africa.’

At the same time, he explained, they also wanted to increase their giving through the Mergon Foundation. ‘After 28 years with the primary focus on growth in asset value,’ Almero continued, ‘the time had now come to drive growth in distributions. So, we embarked on a journey of aggressively growing the distributions to partners of the Mergon Foundation and added many new partners over the next few years.’

Navigating uncharted waters: a unique investment approach

In the coming years, the portfolio further diversified and grew – investments began to mature, along with an increase in distributions to the Foundation. However, as Gauché explained, this entrepreneurial approach was not without its challenges.

‘Typically, you have two investment scenarios,’ he said. ‘Either you have a high-growth portfolio with a lower yield, and the focus is on plowing all the returns or dividends back into the portfolio to ensure maximum growth. Alternatively, you have a lower-growth portfolio where the focus is on the yield, almost like an endowment fund.’

‘We decided to go for a high-growth, high-yield mandate,’ he added, ‘a decision which is ‘not really normal’ in the investment world.’

‘This strategy was incredibly dynamic and exciting,’ Gauché said, ‘but it did present some complexity when it came to cashflow.’ In order to generate liquidity and effectively manage the portfolio, he explained, they needed to depend on a complex blend of funding sources. This involved receiving dividends from some of the more mature or listed investments, making strategic reallocations within the portfolio, and using gearing to ensure gradual and steady results over time. It was a strategy that proved to be successful, allowing Mergon to significantly increase its distributions to the Foundation for over 14 years.

Adapting with purpose: embracing flexibility in strategy

In recent years, Almero went on to say, Mergon has adopted a more balanced approach by blending private business investments and more liquid assets. This approach has not only enabled the team to stay dedicated to investing in private businesses but also has ensured a careful handling of liquidity.

Pieter reflected on this strategic shift, acknowledging it as one of several adaptations that Mergon has made over the years. ‘I believe it’s crucial, as we steward capital, not to be overly attached to a fixed model or a specific way of thinking about the right or best approach,’ said Pieter. ‘Instead, we must create space for God to speak into our strategy and our hearts. Looking back at previous seasons, different models have been called for. We’ve never adhered rigidly to our thinking; we’ve always maintained flexibility. Our approach has consistently been open-handed and open-hearted, allowing us to hear what God is saying. The result of which, we’ve had the incredible privilege to be actively engaged on the ground, journeying alongside entrepreneurs in building businesses over the past 14 years.’

Nurturing Long-Term Partnerships

Because partnership is a core part of our approach, it has significantly shaped how we think about investments. This has led to an investment mindset and strategy that differs from the usual approaches often associated with venture capital. Gauché elaborated, ‘Unlike a private equity fund that engages in short-term buy-ins and exits within a five-year span, we take on a more long-term outlook. This aligns our values with building value alongside entrepreneurs, which requires a bit more patience. We ensure that we’re making the right decisions for the business, avoiding a rush to maximise value within a five-year window.’

He added, ‘But journeying with entrepreneurs entails more than just business – in the end, it’s about people.’ Pieter, Gauché, and Almero went on to share their views on what it means to stand by entrepreneurs, leveling power imbalances through partnerships and journeying through all of life’s challenges and victories. To learn more about our relational approach and listen to the full podcast, click here.

Finishing strong: the story of a win win exit

Business man in a corporate office smiling

At Mergon, we believe that partnerships are not just about achieving short-term gain, but about building long-lasting relationships that create value for everyone involved. Mergon COO Gauché Radley spoke to this idea in a recent interview, highlighting some of the key principles underpinning our partnership approach. He shares the story of 4PL, a former Mergon investee company, and how we worked closely with them to divest our investment in a way that ensured their continued growth and success.

It’s a story that underscores our commitment to building partnerships that go beyond the bottom line and create long-lasting value. Here is an overview of this discussion.

‘We have seen the transformative power of partnerships where there is trust and mutual respect, and everybody benefits in the end,’ said Gauché. ‘Unfortunately, we have also seen another reality, where motives and models are flawed, and profit and impact metrics are prioritised above all else. This leads to power imbalances and the exploitation of relationships for personal gain, ending in a situation where the ‘winner takes all’.’

‘We want to partner in a different way,’ said Gauché. ‘To show up in a way that reflects God’s heart and aim to build something meaningful and long-lasting.’

A case in point

We often say at Mergon that we ‘stand alongside, not above’ our investment partners. But what does this practically look like in the way we engage with our investment partners? Gauché proceeded to illustrate his point by sharing the story of 4PL.

‘In 2020 we felt it was time to start making arrangements to sell our stake in the business. As in this case, even when the relationship with the CEO is strong, this is still a difficult conversation to have. It’s deeply personal, and it can create uncertainty. People become worried, ‘how are we going to look after ourselves once Mergon pulls out? Will the company just fold when the funding dries up?’

A seat at the table

Knowing that managing uncertainty is crucial in these situations, the team took the proactive step of involving the CEO in the discussion right from the start. ‘He was concerned about being swallowed up by a large trading company and losing his independence,’ said Gauché. ‘We assured him that we were committed to look together for a better parent for 4PL. That we wouldn’t force anyone on him but work with him and find someone whom he was happy with. Someone who was well positioned in the industry, who shared our mission and values, and could put more capital into the business. And that’s what we did.’

Having recognised the value of the CEO’s expertise and leadership, the team wanted to empower him in having a voice in decision making. Gauché explained, ‘We knew that, for the CEO to have legitimate influence and a real say around the table, he would have to have a significant stake in the business. We made shares available to him, which enabled him to become a co-entrepreneur in the business. Now he was in a good position – acting not only as the CEO but as a shareholder in the business and part of the management team.’

A win-win exit

Eventually the right investor came along. A season set aside for the CEO and investor to get to know one another, and only once they were confident that the relationship could work, did we proceed to the next stage of the exit process. ‘We were intentional during the negotiation process about taking every stakeholder’s interest into account’, said Gauché. ‘And in the end, it all went really well. We were able to exit the business in a way that left everybody around the table still making money and still building on influence and relationship.’

Today the business is thriving, with a net worth that has doubled in value since having sold our stake. The CEO is still running the company, with much relational influence. ‘There’s a lot of trust in the room,’ added Gauché. ‘And it’s a good feeling because we really added value to the company.’

‘In a world where wealth determines power and competition is fierce, we at Mergon want to approach our capital partnerships in a different spirit of humility, said Gauché. ‘True partnership has us seeking to learn, to listen and ask questions, and trying to understand the needs and unspoken expectations of everyone involved. When we see ourselves as stewards of God’s capital, we understand that these are God’s resources, not ours. We don’t need to do everything in our power to maximise the company’s bottom line. We can focus on creating environments where everyone flourishes and there’s mutual trust and respect in the room. This not only lays the groundwork for good business – it ultimately honours God.’

To learn more about Mergon’s investment approach and current portfolio, see here.

Leading from the heart

In this interview summary with Ziwani’s Sibs Sibanda, Mergon COO Gauché Radley gives us a fresh perspective on what it means to ‘love your neighbour’ in business today. In a fast paced world of competition where winner takes all, he shares how ‘laying down power’ and ‘moving at the speed of trust’ will always get you further in the long run.

Setting the bar high

Since the beginning, God has invited us to co-labour with Him in the renewal of ‘all things’, beginning with our relationship with him, overflowing to our relationships with others and ultimately extending to the elements of culture and society at large. Central to this mission is God’s love.

Gauché reflected on this idea of loving people in the context of business: ‘In Psalm 24 the writer talks about journeying with clean hands and a pure heart, with no lies and no idols,’ he says. ‘That’s a pretty high standard. It’s one thing not to lie in business – but to negotiate with a ‘pure heart’? To appoint and sever employment relationships with a ‘pure heart’?! That’s a completely different way of dealing with people. It’s where you’re looking out for yourself as well as for the guy on the other side of the table.’

Gauché made this idea practical, sharing a recent example during Covid whereby the Mergon investment team was in the process of raising significant capital for the acquisition of a business in Denmark. Nearing the completion of the deal, with only a handful of legalities left to finalise, the team was confronted with a sobering reality: though profitability projections looked good in the immediate and long term, they would have to ride out a year of inevitable profit loss. ‘We decided to share this information with the investors,’ said Gauché. ‘They ended up pulling out. It was horrible.’ He added: ‘But fast forward a couple of years, and we were able to buy that same company in Denmark. It wasn’t simple – there was a lot of prayer involved and a lot of stressing, submitting and surrendering. What we could say though, is that throughout the process we kept a pure heart and clean hands – and that was worth it.’

Coming to the table as equals

Business can be a powerful vehicle through which we live out God’s commandment to love our neighbour as ourselves, as expressed in Matthew 22. For this to happen, there needs to be a level playing field where both parties can come as equals to the table. Gauché emphasised that part of our role as capital investors is to acknowledge the power that comes with money – and then intentionally lay that power down in the spirit of true partnership.

‘Trust creates speed in our business – and, in the end, it creates financial success too,’ said Gauché.  ‘For us the relational aspect – the partnership – is a fundamental part of our business philosophy, both on the investment side and on the giving side. When you have money, you can almost do anything you want. It’s undiluted, impersonal power – and the way you use that power really defines what your views are on partnership and God’s love in this world.’

Gauché noted that, over the past decade serving as King Price chairman, decisions have always been made in team, with room for robust discussion and disagreement. ‘Even though we have the majority seats on the board to get through what we want, we don’t abuse that power. We always invite discussion and argue our position with respect for one another’s views. We do not use money as a source of power to get what we want.’

Gauché noted that when partnerships are rooted in love, priorities shift away from the bottom line agenda and towards a more holistic, Kingdom perspective. This in turn produces a kind of counter cultural behaviour in the business world. As an illustration, Gauché shared a recent experience with members of the King Price executive board: ‘We were discussing the impact of COVID, the recent storms and riots – all the factors that have made for a rough ride for insurers in the last couple of years. You would think that the board would have first wanted to know more around profitability, share price and our financing arrangement. But their response was, ‘how can we serve the management team in this time’? We decided that in the next month we’ll get on a plane and go pray with the team. We want to create a circle around them and dedicate them to God, asking for God’s wisdom and help. These are the things that really makes a difference in people’s lives and change the way people think about business, said Gauché. 

Success is in surrendering

On the back of this example, Sibs asked how God has challenged Gauché’s notion of ‘success’ in business. ‘Given that God is love,’ he said, ‘how does that truth impact the way you personally define success and how you as a business regard what success is?

Gauché noted that it’s important for us as Christians to strive for excellence in all we do, especially when it comes to excellence in business. ‘If you’re a failed businessman, people won’t necessarily want to hear your opinion. So monetary success is part of our mandate and gives us a voice to speak into the world. With that said, Gauché continued, ‘Money does not define whether you’re successful or not.’ No matter how much you have of it, he reminded us through the famous words of John Rockefeller, you’ll always want ‘just a little bit more’.

Success is rather rooted in relation to our dependence on God. He reflected on a few vulnerable moments at Mergon when liquidity was at risk and there was very little to do other than to get on one’s knees and surrender: ‘In those moments we’d say to the Lord, You built this company – Mergon is yours, so you do what you want with it. It’s these points of true surrender that have brought forth much growth, where God has put more of his Kingdom into our hearts.’

Gauché ended with an encouragement for business leaders to strive for God’s definition of success. ‘Trust God to get out and walk on the water with Jesus. It requires a lot of faith and a lot of trust; you’ll have to keep surrendering. But in the end, I really believe it will be worth it.’

This article is a summary overview of the podcast entitled ‘Balancing Love and Power’, an episode of Ziwani’s latest podcast series, Monday Christian. To listen to the full podcast, visit here.

Stewarding our lives from the inside out

In Luke 12, Jesus draws from the parable of a rich man who stored up treasures on earth at the expense of heavenly wealth. Drawing from the warnings and wisdom expressed through this parable, Mergon CEO Pieter Faure shares some of the thinking around biblical stewardship that has shaped our 4-decade journey at Mergon. In this CEF white paper, he unpacks some of the flawed thought patterns that we as stewards could just as easily fall into, and how can we embrace a different kind of stewardship.

In Luke 12 v 16–21, Jesus tells the well-known story of a successful farmer and businessman who in a particular year had been blessed with an abundant harvest. In fact, the blessing was so great that he asked with angst, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops?’

His solution was to tear down his existing barns where he stored his wealth and build a bigger one. Having done this, he sat back, content, with a store of wealth to last a lifetime and the prospect of living the good life. 

Yet despite his meticulous planning, he miscalculated in one respect; that very night his life would be demanded from him, and all he had built up for himself would go to someone else or to ruin. 

Jesus closes with a warning to all of us: ‘This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.’

Stewarding our barn today

At Mergon our mission is to steward all the resources entrusted to us for Kingdom impact, that is to see lives transformed through the power of the gospel and culture redeemed through the way we manage and multiply God’s resources. In a way one could say that we are stewarding a ‘modern day barn’. 

Outwardly this makes us very different to the farmer in Jesus’ story who is stewarding the barn and its resources purely for selfish gain. Yet this higher purpose doesn’t vaccinate us against unintentionally succumbing to the same flawed thinking that led to the farmer’s demise.

What are some of the flawed thought patterns in this parable that we as stewards could just as easily fall into, and how can we embrace a different kind of stewardship? Here are some of the thoughts that have been shaping our journey at Mergon.

We are sons before stewards

The farmer in Jesus’ parable seems to have found his identity in his success, the size of ‘his’ barn, and his self-sufficiency—it defined and changed him. As stewards of capital we need to pause and ask ourselves from time to time, ‘Wherein do we find our identity; what ultimately defines us?’  

I, like many of you, may be quick to contest that my identity is secure in Christ.  Yet the reality is that after many years as CEO of Mergon my identity could so easily be defined by ‘what I do’ or by Mergon’s success rather than ‘Whom I belong to’. 

I need to remind myself daily that I am a son before I am a steward.  Like the farmer in the parable, my life may be demanded from us this very night. Might it be that, when I come face-to-face with God, the first thing He says to me is, ‘Welcome home, My beloved child,’ before He says, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’

The barn is not our source

The farmer in our story clearly viewed the barn as his source of security and provision. He lost sight of the fact that no matter how great the barn is, all its contents are temporal and the result of God’s gracious and faithful provision.  

During Covid, Mergon’s cashflow came under severe pressure. At one point it seemed that we would be unable to meet our funding commitments to our various ministries partners. In this difficult time I wrestled with questions like ‘Who will provide for our partners if Mergon can’t?’ and ‘What does this say about our stewardship?’  It was a heavy burden to carry. 

Eventually God, in His graciousness, brought me to a place of true surrender. This came when I realised we needed to write a letter to the ministry partners who received Mergon funding. In it, we transparently explained that henceforth our funding commitment would be a month-by-month faith journey—whatever God provided, we would distribute.

It was one of the hardest letters I’ve ever had to write; it felt like we had failed in our stewardship. Yet once it was sent, a huge burden lifted. It was as though, by declaring God to be our true Provider, our faith in Him and reliance on Him had set us free. 

The response from our ministry partners was overwhelming. They deeply appreciated our vulnerability, they prayed for us, and some even offered to forfeit their financial benefit to other ministries who might be in greater need. It was a beautiful moment of solidarity, where funder and beneficiaries stood in unity as true partners in the gospel, together trusting God to provide so that we could each play our part in advancing His Kingdom.

God was faithful to provide throughout this challenging period and by grace, Mergon managed to fulfill all its financial commitments.   

We need to discern the season

The farmer in the parable had a real problem—his barn was overflowing. His solution was to build a bigger barn. Yet, he was not condemned for building a barn or for building a bigger barn—but rather for not being rich toward God.

How different the outcome might have been if he had paused and asked, ‘God, this is your harvest and your barn; what will you have me do with this? How do I use this to be rich to you?’ One can only wonder what creative suggestions God may have had for him. 

Ecclesiastes says “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens . . . a time to tear down and a time to build.” 

As stewards of Kingdom capital, we need to pause from time to time to discern the season we’re in—is it a season to build or to tear down, a season to invest or a season to give?  It will be different for each of us, depending on where we are on our journeys and what God has called us to.  But if we truly believe God owns it all we can submit all to his plans and not just a portion of our proceeds.

In reflecting on our Mergon journey, there have been two distinct past seasons with a new, third season beckoning.   

Season one was about building the barn. Mergon’s journey started in 1980 with a desperate commitment from our founder, Francois van Niekerk, to give 30% of his near bankrupt business to serve God’s Kingdom, if He would somehow give a breakthrough. The breakthrough came and in the years that followed the business prospered from those humble beginnings. Francois’ heart was for Mergon to impact the Kingdom but he knew it was a time to re-invest in order to build up a storehouse of capital that might be released more fully at the appropriate time in the future. 

In 2008, after 28 years of building, Francois and the trustees sensed that the season had changed.

In Mergon’s second season we threw open the barn doors. Francois handed over operational leadership to a newly established team tasked with stewarding Mergon’s resources. The original 30% of assets committed to Mergon was increased to 70%. We invested in numerous early-stage businesses, establishing an active presence in the South African business community – its impact through funds distributed spread across Africa and the Middle East. We’ve also developed innovative collaborative initiatives to bring about social change in South Africa. 

The leadership team and board once again sense that Mergon is on the brink of a season change. We are still discerning what this might look like but it is challenging us to rethink some of our core beliefs around our stewardship call, such as “stewardship control vs. stewardship released,” “building stewardship capacity vs. enabling a stewardship community,” and “stewarding resources for return vs. sowing resources for multiplication.”

Whatever it may be, the most important thing is that our posture is one of open hands and prayerful hearts toward God, to wait on Him to show us what He has in mind for Mergon’s next season. As stewards we need to release our plans for the Mergon-barn into his hands to fulfill his purposes through it.  

In Conclusion   

In conclusion, courageous stewardship is an inside-out journey. It starts with us being secure in understanding our identity as children of God, loved and accepted, independent of our stewardship calling. It invites us to lay down our gifts and talents at the foot of the cross to fully rely on Him—the true Owner, the abundant Source of provision, and the Sustainer of the work. Lastly, it requires us to submit our plans and models to Him, seeking Him and waiting to hear His heart for the season we are in and the plans He has through which we are to accomplish His work. 

From that place of being fully surrendered, we can walk with a yoke that is easy and a burden that is light. We can rejoice in the impact and success we see, without being overwhelmed by challenges and failures we go through. We can hold lightly to models, strategies, and plans yet bring to bear all our creative, daring, faith-filled energy to fulfill our stewardship calling and shine the light of His Kingdom into the places He has called us to be.

Flying in the face of convention – the story of King Price

Ten years ago, Gideon Galloway walked through Mergon’s doors and pitched a brave and rather unconventional model of insurance – one that has gone to turn the industry on its head in South Africa. Today King Price still remains the biggest start-up investment in Mergon’s portfolio. Having celebrated King Price’s 10-year birthday last month, we interviewed Gauché Radley, Mergon COO and King Price chairman, to hear more about the fascinating story of King Price – a story he describes as one of ‘prayer, friendship and grace.’  

Flying in the face of convention

A story of prayer

‘If I think of King Price over the last ten years, for me, it is firstly a story of prayer,’ says Mergon COO and chairman of King Price Gauché Radley. ‘Prayer has always been at the centre of it all.’

Gauché recalls the day in May 2012 when founder and CEO, Gideon Galloway, walked through Mergon’s doors for the first time and pitched a rather unordinary vision to turn the insurance industry on its head.

‘The idea was totally compelling – insurance premiums that decrease with time,’ he shares. ‘There was a kind of gritty courage and boldness to the vision – a ‘bigness’ that went beyond the projected bottom line returns. Gideon wanted to use this business to make a difference in people’s lives.’

It was a vision that Mergon’s investment team could get behind. But ‘buying the vision’ wasn’t enough – as with every big decision that has shaped their 4-decade story, prayer would pave the next step.

‘We had done all our due diligence but the final decision had to be surrendered into God’s hands,’ he says. ‘We asked our team to pray about it – we asked the board and our ministry partners in the Foundation too. Eventually we felt God released us to go ahead with the investment, but we felt we shouldn’t do it alone. Just in time we found a partner to co-invest in the business.’

Over the last decade, King Price has become South Africa’s fastest growing insurance company, with an expanding footprint into Africa and Europe. To add to this, King Price recently acquired Stangen to form part of the King Price kingdom and be a launch platform into life insurance. Says Gauché, ‘When we acquired the company it had about 250 000 lives insured. In just over two years we’ve seen a four fold growth – growing from 250 000 to about 1 million lives insured.  All in all, there has been incredible growth – and more plans for expansion are on the table.’

‘It has been a wild ride – but not an easy one,’ he continues. ‘The story hasn’t come without its challenges – such as major IT issues in 2014, Covid in 2020-2022, social unrest/looting in 2021 and the KZN floods in 2022. But through it all, prayer has always helped the teams to navigate the storms together.’

A story of friendship

Reflecting further on the past ten years, Gauché continues: ‘Our story with King Price has also been one of people and friendships. I’ve made some of my best friends there over the last ten years.’

He smiles and explains: ‘You see, at Mergon, we believe good partnership should be relational and whole-hearted. When we invest in businesses, we invest in the leaders too. We engage with them – walk alongside them and encourage them; we work together to find solutions to the challenges they face. The fact that I can call my colleagues at King Price ‘friends’, is a privilege I don’t take for granted. God called us to steward every part of our lives – and that begins with our relationships.’

Gauché continues, ‘We often use the term ‘Kingdom investing’ – but what does that mean to the average guy on the street? It means firstly that the business is not ours – it’s God’s and we are the stewards called to faithfully manage what He’s entrusted to us. It also speaks to me about the who and how of partnership. We partner with people and businesses (like King Price) that are purpose driven and values based – they are building for something beyond profitability. They want to contribute to society and see their own people flourish in the process. This is a truly globally competitive team. A bunch of guys having fun, working hard and really making a difference.’

A story of grace

Gauché also believes that ‘at the end of the day, King Price is a story of grace’.

Mergon was not the first investors’ door that Gideon Galloway knocked on for potential investment. In fact, our door was the 43rd. ‘The proposal was just so unconventional to traditional insurance models – it was a big entrepreneurial risk that other investors weren’t willing to take, I suppose,’ says Gauché.

Today King Price is the biggest start-up investment in Mergon’s international investment portfolio. ‘Of course it’s come through hard work and a lot of expertise we’ve all brought collectively to the table over the years,’ adds Gauché, ‘but at the end of the day it’s by God’s grace and favour. Our success is ultimately all about His faithfulness.’

In Mergon we consider ourselves to be ‘stewards in amazement’. This means that every day we have the opportunity to ‘show up for God’ and make ourselves available – every part of our lives including our time, talents, skills, resources and relationships. ‘As we do this,’ he says, God seems to multiply our efforts and build out something far greater – and far more impossible – than we could ever claim we did ourselves.’

Looking to the next ten years, Gauché says, ‘I live with an expectancy of what God is going to do in King Price in the next season. Our vision is not only to be successful as a company, but to continue making a difference in the lives of people in South Africa and abroad.’

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