Black businesses get a leg-up
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