Dale Simons, head of MiDO technologies from Jamestown in the Western Cape is an entrepreneur and community developer with a burning passion. His goal in life is to empower his community through the communication power of information technologies and he is slowly but surely reaching that goal.
After starting his career with a diploma in mechanical engineering from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Dale migrated over to IT as soon he started working. “I was always interested in the tools that IT offer. I am fascinated by the way that computer systems can structure and simplify a life.” After grounding his IT experience as a system consultant and software developer, Dale decided to leave the Cape Town hustle and bustle and move closer to his hometown of Jamestown to be closer with his family. It was here in the Cape wine-lands that he accepted a job from a famed wine farm as IT manager. “This was probably one of the most significant times of my life. I hand-developed IT technicians by looking for people who had no formal training in the field.” Community and social development has always been a great passion in Dale’s life. Apart from starting the Jamestown Heritage Trust, he also started an education trust, Friends of Stellenzicht to restore a local high school.
Working as director of IT on the wine farm, however did not quite fulfil Dale intellectually or emotionally. “It was a very cushy place to be,” Dale laughs. Though the job might not have been a challenging enough space that his mind yearned for, he was granted amazing opportunities nonetheless. The estate had a policy to give employees to opportunity to learn skills in whatever field they chose, one year Dale even did a short course in Xhosa. In this regard he decided to try out a life coach. “I felt I needed to do something, I felt uncomfortable in both mind and body,” he describes his mindset at the time. After enlisting the help of a body and mind coach, Dale became, in his words, a new person. “I started mountain-racing, I started reading, I suddenly had goals I wanted to chase. I was a house on fire! I always knew I was a leader and now I was put on course to become a social entrepreneur,” and shortly after Dale stepped away from his cushy office job to pursue his own ventures.
“If I could change one thing, I wish I joined a MEDO incubator sooner. I was arrogant coming from a high-ranking position, only now do I realise I really didn’t understand what it meant to be an entrepreneur.” Walking away from the wine farm, Dale consulted numerous business contacts as to how to go by his brainchild of MiDO Technologies. “I found myself in a conundrum. I was completely alone and I was trying to marry community development and IT, back then these two concepts were worlds apart.” As fate would have it, however, Dale was looking for education software and this is where he stumbled on to a MEDO graduate who sold the softwares. He looked up MEDO on the internet, applied and the rest was history, or rather is now forming Dale’s future.
“MEDO changed the way I looked at business. I learnt that an entrepreneur should be about his business, not in his business. I basically had to divorce myself from the business which allowed me to look at my business plan critically.” Dale also realised that as an entrepreneur he had to walk around with his eyes wide open, seeking opportunity from every nook and crevice. Being integrated with a community of other like-minded entrepreneurs Dale mentions that they started forming a type of ecosystem, serving their individual purposes with each other.
Looking forward, Dale’s dream for MiDO Technologies is to empower his community through technology. “We want to give organisations the tools to do their job with improved communication and data management. People get lost in technology. Funders want to see how many lives are affected before investing. I want to give those people the tools to do so.” Dale also has a apprenticeship project in the pipeline to mentor young IT graduates in business and communication skills. Through this project he will not only grant young people valuable experience and knowledge, but will have the manpower to offer non-profit organisations in his community service at the lowest possible rates.
When all is said and done Dale is a successful businessman, entrepreneur, technician and community developer. His story, however can be taken up in two words which he describes as his life purpose: “Empower people.”