Jean-Paul grew up in the Kasai Occidental Province of the DRC, a place where rivers meander lazily through the magnificent African jungles of Kasai. Soon after leaving school in 1999, Jean-Paul assisted in the management of his sister’s retail grocery store for a few years. After giving thought to pursuing a career in law, medicine or social work Jean-Paul finally set his sights on becoming a social worker. However, in 2004, the political situation in the DRC became untenable. After considering all his options in conversation with his family, especially the insight and wisdom of his father, Jean-Paul made the courageous life-changing decision to emigrate to Cape Town, South Africa. It dawned on him within the first few weeks of his arrival in Cape Town that the grass was not greener on the other side. And he was about to embark on a tough journey towards achieving some form of success.

The only accommodation available to him at the time was a corrugated iron shack, within the derelict poverty stricken Imizamo Yethu informal settlement of Hout Bay. Despite repeated attempts to find work employers were not interested as Jean-Paul could not speak a word of English.. He therefore chose the only door open to him, which was to look after cars in the beach parking area close to the Hout Bay Shopping Centre.A tough beginning in a free for all situation among other unemployed people who had the same idea. Fortunately, a police reservist by the name of Mike Ring initiated a car guard security management project in collaboration with a security company which resulted in the development of a well organised support system and improved environmental safety.Car guards received free uniforms and responded well to the implementation of a more efficient parking service to tourists and the local community. Although crime in the area dropped significantly, car guards continued to be totally dependent on tips. One of the ladies he assisted recognised his language problem and suggested that he keeps a dictionary on hand in order to learn at least one word a day.

Plus read newspapers to become familiar with the English language. He took her advice to heart and was thrilled to find that he could carry out a decent conversation in English within six months. Jean-Paul worked long hours, often on his feet from 07h00 to 22h00, earning hardly enough money to cover basic needs. The cold winter months were particularly tough. On one occasion, after finishing work at 22h00, his body literally froze. He collapsed close to the Pam Golding beach offices and could hardly breath. Fortunately, a friend saw this happen and quickly rushed to his aid with a heater in hand. He felt the heat after around 10 minutes and recovered as the warmth seeped into his body. A few months later Jean-Paul witnessed another friend being knocked down by a car. He immediately called the ambulance. They travelled together to hospital where his friend was rushed into the emergency ward and treated for his injuries. He returned to being fully mobile several weeks later. This incident had a profound impact on Jean-Paul as he took time out to think about his circumstances, living on the edge of survival. Being treated like a beggar continued to gnaw away at his sense of dignity and aspirations for success. Jean-Paul then resolved to forge a new path going forward. After exploring several possibilities, he narrowed his focus down to becoming a fully qualified electrician.

Jean-Paul was determined to save the kind of funding needed to become a fully qualified electrician He increased his earning capacity by selling sunscreen protectors for car windows and washing cars. This enabled him to attend four-week training sessions at the Electrical Contractors Association ECA (SA) in Woodstock, as and when he could afford it. Jean-Paul then reached a critical defining moment in his career growth path, being the need to secure employment with an electrical company to gain the required practical experience. His relentless search for the right enterprise was finally rewarded when he was appointed as a driver to aid an electrician who could not drive. This opened the door for him to join their electrical team and become involved in daily technical operations. Jean-Paul completed his apprenticeship and passed his trade test four years later. Jean-Paul’s natural entrepreneurial flair kindled a deep desire to start-up his own electrical contracting business. This dream became reality when he established Look & Life Electrical and Plumbing in 2013, after obtaining his electrical contractor’s license. The business has grown from strength to strength ever since, and earned the reputation of being a trustworthy, reliable and competent enterprise.