Black busi­nesses get a leg-up

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - BUSINESS - SOYISO MALITI

AF­TER the me­te­oric growth of their own sep­a­rate busi­nesses, two lo­cal busi­ness­men are plough­ing their knowl­edge back into the com­mu­nity, help­ing start-up small busi­nesses get off the ground and be­come sus­tain­able in the chal­leng­ing eco­nomic cli­mate.

Ndaba Khanyane and Brian Sochenywa are both in­au­gu­ral mem­bers of the Cape Town branch of Shan­duka Black Um­brel­las (SBU), which works with part­ners in the pri­vate sec­tor, govern­ment and civil so­ci­ety to ad­dress low lev­els of en­trepreneur­ship and high fail­ure rate of black-owned emerg­ing busi­nesses. They strive to de­velop th­ese busi­nesses, nur­tur­ing them through the crit­i­cal first three years by pro­vid­ing in­cu­ba­tors that have of­fice in­fra­struc­ture, pro­fes­sional ser­vices and a struc­tured men­tor­ship pro­gramme at a highly sub­sidised rate.

Apart from Cape Town, there are also in­cu­ba­tors in Jo­han­nes­burg, Pre­to­ria, Dur­ban and at Mooinooi, in the North West.

Now Khanyane and Sochenywa’s joint busi­ness, Bizdev Con­sul­tancy, helps Small Medium and Mi­cro En­ter­prises (SMMEs) to get off the ground. And it has a mul­ti­mil­lion rand turnover.

The pair met in 2007 at a busi­ness work­shop while run­ning sep­a­rate busi­ness, then went on to study busi­ness to­gether, grad­u­at­ing last year.

Khanyane, who stud­ied ac­count­ing at the Univer­sity of the Western Cape, said: “We’re the bridge be­tween the SMME and the Depart­ment of Trade and In­dus­try (DTI) and other or­gan­i­sa­tions. We help SMMEs com­plete regis­tra­tion, ac­cred­i­ta­tion, ISO com­pli­ance if nec­es­sary, train­ing in busi­ness pro­cesses and even busi­ness plans, mar­ket­ing and pro­mo­tion. We also help them with the Black Busi­ness Sup­plier De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme (BBSDP).”

The busi­ness em­ploys seven peo­ple, and has opened a sec­ond of­fice in the Free State. They have also started a satel­lite com­pany, E Green Agric So­lu­tions.

“We re­alised we had to ex­pand – it was danger­ous to rely on only one or­gan­i­sa­tion for work. We started look­ing to ex­pand and di­ver­sify, which we have done suc­cess­fully,” the Ta­ble View busi­ness­man said.

“We pro­vide turn-key so­lu­tions for ru­ral farm­ers. We don’t pro­fess to know about agri­cul­ture but we do know about busi­ness. We know it is not only about money but about pro­vid­ing fledg­ling busi­nesses with an in­fra­struc­ture, as well as on­go­ing sup­port and help af­ter the busi­ness has been es­tab­lished.”

Khanyane added that DTI con­tracts formed nearly 70 per­cent of their busi­ness.

Bizdev Con­sul­tancy is also work­ing with small-scale co­op­er­a­tives, turn­ing them from in­for­mal groups into reg­u­lated en­ti­ties with busi­ness plans.

“It’s some­thing that I am de­lighted to be in­volved in. There’s so much op­por­tu­nity out there. For­mal em­ploy­ment isn’t the only route to se­cu­rity. South Africans are great en­trepreneurs…” he said.

Sochenywa, of Plum­stead, said hard work was es­sen­tial in their busi­ness, and for suc­cess, both par­ties had to com­ple­ment one an­other.

Khanyane, he said, was “in­no­va­tive and has great busi­ness acu­men, and we work well along­side each other, and our ideas just gel”.

Of the busi­ness model it­self, Sochenywa said they faced chal­lenges, but were com­fort­able that SMMEs un­der their guid­ance were far­ing well. “In fact, I don’t re­mem­ber a sin­gle com­pany that’s fallen on the way­side un­der our guid­ance.”

He said they en­vi­sioned ex­pand­ing to more ru­ral ar­eas, in­clud­ing the Eastern Cape and the North­ern Cape. “Such places have lots of chal­lenges and there are very few busi­ness peo­ple like us in th­ese ar­eas.

“We’re mak­ing in­roads in less trav­elled ar­eas in the coun­try. And th­ese plans are al­ready in the pipe­line,” he said.

HELP­ING OTH­ERS: Brian Sochenywa and Ndaba Khanyane

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