Going serial

Joubert Roux

This gumptious entrepreneur from Vredendal enjoys making waves.

Businessman. Distiller. Disruptor. Do-gooder. Farmer. Joubert Roux is a viral vector of energy and business accomplishments.

His latest slam dunk is the launch of Zero Carbon Charge, a country-wide network of ultra-fast renewable energy charging stations for EVs. He explained, “Not only are we right up there on the road to zero carbon transport in South Africa, we’re also trying to make charging electric vehicles as sustainable as possible.

“With our first phase roll-out earmarked for the end of 2024, we want to create conditions promoting the successful deployment of EVs in South Africa sooner. If we can do that, we’re at the races! It’s bound to pave the way towards a more climate-resilient environment. What’s not to like when considering that internal combustion engine vehicles produce 29% of the carbon emissions on earth?”

After spending the first 10 years of his work life at Grinaker rolling out construction projects, Joubert went on to build a network of service stations and car dealerships throughout the Western, Southern and Northern Cape for the last decade.

Ahead of the curve as ever, in 2011 he started developing wind farms for the Renewable Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPP) in partnership with Andries Malherbe (who’s also his partner in Zero Carbon Charge). “We’re continuing unabated with these projects in the Northern Cape and Sutherland so that hopefully the day will come when this electricity can be fed into the Eskom grid.”

Don’t forget that all the above took place while Joubert was busy as a bee farming wine grapes and lucerne on his farm Groenhoek near Vredendal.

And ever intent on encouraging positive spill-overs to create a virtuous cycle of social good, Joubert also got stuck into helping previously disadvantaged communities in Ebenhaeser and Leliesfontein. Here he was instrumental in establishing micro-vineyards, boutique wineries and small-scale lucerne farming for 153 plot holders.

In 2014 he founded 1st Principles Distillery. But this isn’t your garden variety distillery. It’s carbon neutral. Not only is it solar-powered, it uses recycled products exclusively, while a bamboo forest containing 56 varieties filters the farm’s black water. He explained, “The only water that leaves the premises is what’s bottled in our products: cooling is done with irrigation water, toilets are flushed with brown water and black water irrigates the bamboo.”

The products too are worth writing home about: thunder and lightning in the brandies; a smooth and subtly sweet vodka; and lovely vapour-infused grain-based gins.

Joubert has never been afraid to stand out. “It’s often the things that scare you the most that you have to do. Because taking risks and suffering setbacks is part of moving forward.”

A family man through and through, he spends me-time cooking up a storm.

My sport is walking
Favourite West Coast place is Strandfontein
Best restaurant is Fryer’s Cove in Doringbaai
I love eating spicy Eastern and Thai food
My signature drink is a single-barrel brandy
I read extensively – from history to economics and everything in between
Pets are a Dachshund, 2 Russian terriers and an Africanis