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Liran Assness: finding opportunity in challenges



If you want to know the secret to entrepreneurial success, just ask Liran Assness. A seasoned entrepreneur and chief executive who employs thousands, he knows the meaning of hard work and innovation.

Assness was this year’s winner of The Kirsh Family Entrepreneur Award, recognised for his entrepreneurial savvy in his latest venture, Sekta, a holding company that brings together multiple individual entities to form an industrial powerhouse. The group operates across the energy, petrochemical, oil and gas, marine, mining, manufacturing, and construction sectors.

“When you think about successful entrepreneurs these days, names like Elon Musk and Steve Jobs come to mind,” said Wendy Fisher, who announced Assness’ award at the Absa Jewish Achiever Awards held virtually this past Sunday.

“But what about others who do remarkable things in ordinary ways?

“There are big thinkers, challengers, achievers. This is one kind of entrepreneur. There is another kind, the kind that may not be a household name. The kind that provides goods and services that seem more ordinary than extraordinary. Entrepreneurs who start, grow, and run businesses which are the lifeblood of our economy and community.”

Perhaps the truest test of an entrepreneur is how they perform when the going gets tough, Fisher said, testing their ability to adapt and persevere. This is precisely what Assness has done.

“He has shown true resilience and sustained his business throughout COVID-19,” she said. “Liran has delivered for customers, employees, and the company, a manifestation of his vision and hard work.”

Sekta operates throughout South Africa and in various other African countries, and employs between 2 000 to 3 500 staff members. Having formed Sekta only last year, Assness’ swift success has been nothing short of phenomenal.

“Liran is able to identify opportunities, and through strategic partnerships and an understanding of the industry, has been able to turn them into something truly remarkable,” said Rabbi Aharon Zulberg, a close friend of Assness.

“He’s a real active community member. Whenever there is a need, he’s one of the first to step forward.”

Assness admitted that being an entrepreneur is tough, but said the support he has received has made the journey more bearable.

“It’s gruelling work, and it’s not easy at all,” he said. “That’s why the first thank you has to be to my wife, Tamara, for all that she has done. She has a great business mind, so she’s always up to date with everything that I’m doing, and she has never doubted me one bit, but has always been behind me.”

Assness also thanked his parents and executive team for their invaluable contributions.

“I’m so fortunate to have all of you guys around, and to work with talented people on a daily basis. You know exactly who you are. It has been an absolute pleasure and an unbelievable journey working with you, and I’m excited about what we will do as a group in the future.”

The company has made great strides since its inception, Assness said, and is today a major powerhouse.

“Today we’re a business of close to a R1 billion in turnover with six companies within our group. That’s the foundation we’re looking at to grow Sekta into the future.

“To the South Africans out there, I know it’s tough at the moment with all the challenges out there, but there’s tremendous opportunity on the ground,” Assness said. “If you’re willing to put your head down, we’ve got everything here in South Africa.

“Go out and do it. I promise you it can be done.”

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