Keeping it in the family
This family-run business started with humble beginnings, but today, three decades later, it is one of the most prominent distance education providers in the country.
Brainline CEO, Coleen Cronje, says it was a matter of sink or swim.
“It all started when my husband, Dr Johannes Cronje, announced that we would home educate our daughters. As parents, we had to investigate what would be required to cope with these new demands. My husband and his brother, David Cronje, started the information technology journey for the learner in South Africa when they moved into the computer retail market. They soon discovered that there was no software for learners at school, either as additional support or as a complete replacement for traditional school. By implication – isn’t that what marriage is all about – I got drawn into it, as it soon became part of our family’s lifestyle.
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Dr Cronje had the insight to realise that this concept would grow into an internet-based school. The intricacies were not yet clear; however, the concept was. The internet being connected by ‘telephone lines’ around 30 years ago gave him the idea of ‘Brainline’, connecting parents, teachers, tutors and all those interested in the academic education of the learner. Uncertainty over technology proved to be a constant obstacle.
“The fear of technology is lodged deep in the psyche of parents of a certain era. For that reason, all new technology, floppy discs, followed by stiffies and then DVDs, immediately created the logistical challenge of hardware that had to be replaced at the drop of a hat. The biggest challenge was the development of software with regard to knowledgeable people, suitable resources and access to material. The “Fourth Industrial Revolution”, which started even then, made hardware and software easier to afford and it became a growth factor for this industry,” Coleen says.
I believe that a family-owned business is the most powerful kind. The vision and success of the company becomes part of your being from a young age. The most valued part for me is having the opportunity to craft and pursue the dream daily with my family, Mom (CEO), and aunt, Mornet de Jager (General Manager).” – Rosa-marie Cronje
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