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At the beginning of 2014, Nedbank made R1-million funding available to 70 aspiring entrepreneurs from previously disadvantaged backgrounds at the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship. Today, the bank’s efforts are paying off.
According to a media release, the group managed to grow turnover by at least 100% and create 200 new jobs.
After a rigorous screening process, the 70 Nedbank-funded entrepreneurs completed two courses: The Foundation Course, which covers the basics involved in getting a business up and running, and the Advanced Course, which helps businesses develop and grow. Areas covered included finance, governance, HR, marketing and strategy.
In 2012, Forbes wrote that SMEs would be responsible for creating 80% of all new jobs in South Africa, while the government’s National Development Plan envisages that SMEs will create 90% of all new jobs by 2030. A bold vision, but one that is reinforced by support from big businesses such as Nedbank.
“However, the Minister of Trade & Industry, Dr Rob Davies, says that 70% of SMMEs in South Africa close in the first year and the latest Stats SA report shows that the skills level of black people aged 25 to 34 has regressed since 1994,” explains Gavin Meiring, the Branson Centre’s Marketing Manager.
He emphasises the need for support from initiatives like Nedbank’s, as well as Virgin Group’s non-profit, the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship:
“Since many young people turn to entrepreneurship due to a lack of opportunity elsewhere in the economy, they don’t have the skills that are necessary to build successful and sustainable businesses. They need advice, networks, resources, training and support. The role of the Branson Centre is all encompassing in this regard.”
Ntshantsha Tafeni, whose company Yivani Naturals manufactures beauty products using indigenous oils, doubled her business.
“I secured a major client in the UK and received orders to the value of R167 200! I also presented to James Caan of Dragon’s Den fame and Nedbank, and continue to receive many invitations to industry shows and networking events.”
Jairos Jaja’s company, Open Basket, delivers goods to community restaurants and spaza shops in Limpopo province. From a zero base, he has grown to servicing 529 outlets. “I have bakkies covering five towns and 500kms daily.”
Tembisa Mdlalo is one of the Branson Centre’s top entrepreneurs. Her company, Real Relations, offers a virtual PA service to business travellers, corporate executives, media personalities and professionals. She has been awarded a contract to train 103 third-year Office Management students at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) and set up a Meet & Deal Indaba for women in business. She is planning on developing an app and opening a call centre in the future.