Bhana beat the odds to become force in IT sector
Heart now set on R200m ‘Disney Target
YASHMITA Bhana has beaten many odds to become a crucial player in the male-dominated tech industry.
The award-winning Joburg businesswoman rose from a corrupted company and almost being homeless into founding the Nihka Technology Group, which she started in 2008. Bhana is the company’s chief executive.
Recently Nihka Technology signed a R16 million deal with a South African financial institution.
Bhana, 47, says her group aims to expand its reach beyond South Africa’s borders.
She says it is currently in talks with the Mauritian government.
“We want to use that country as a base to expand to the rest of the world. Mauritius has very good trade relations with the rest of the world,” she says.
“The government have invited us to come and set up base in Mauritius because they mostly focus on tourism and hospital and now want to grow their IT (information technology) sector.”
Bhana, who once ran a flourishing IT consultancy firm with a business partner, has faced some tough times.
She says the company went from prominence to collapse when she returned to work from maternity leave in 2007, with no money and mounting debts that almost forced her family on to the streets.
Bhana blames her fellow director of the company, who she claims was dishonest and responsible for the disappearance of the money.
A year earlier Bhana had been crowned the Entrepreneur of the Year by the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa.
She says she resigned in frustration and joined the army of unemployed for a while.
This, she claims, led to financial difficulties for her and her family.
“We had lots of debts. My husband and I were almost out on the streets with our two kids.” Bhana
Businesswoman is driven by the need to empower women and show they can do well in the male-dominated world of technology
notes, however, that she was “quite sell-able” and had received numerous job offers because of her impressive educational qualifications.
After all, she has an MBA from the Gordon Institute of Business Science, a Master’s degree in engineering from Wits University and a BSc in civil engineering from the same institution, as well as a project management certificate from Unisa.
However, she turned down numerous enticing job offers to start from scratch.
“I’m too much of an entrepreneur and a risk-taker as well. In 2008, I started my current company as a consulting firm. It has now grown into a fully-fledged IT firm,” says Bhana, who recently returned from a technology conference in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
The group’s long list of clients include Eskom, City Power, Standard Bank, Absa, Hollard, the Department of Basic Education and the Airports Company of SA.
Ironically, Bhana once worked for Eskom as a civil and building manager where she won numerous awards for excelling in her job.
“The head of Eskom’s IT asked me if I could do to the IT department what I had done for the engineering department.
“So, I moved to the IT department and started doing IT projects. That’s where I got my passion,” reveals Bhana, who left the power utility in 2004.
The businesswoman says her company has partnered with leading technology solutions company Huawei. “They have a Smart City project that they are looking to take to that country,” she reveals guardedly.
When asked what her future plans are for the company, Bhana says: “We’ve got what we call the Disney Target, which is valued at R200m. We call it the Disney Target because if we should reach it we are taking our families to Disney World.”
Bhana says she is driven by the need to empower women and 68 percent of her staff are black women.
“I aggressively go out and look for black women. I want to show that women can also do well in this male-dominated tech industry,” says the entrepreneur, who summited Mount Kilimanjaro while pregnant in 2011 and raised more than R500 000 for a children’s home.
“As a black woman you still need to prove yourself in this male-dominated industry,” reminds Bhana.
She is chairperson of the Quant Education Fund which helps women in engineering, and also runs the Dhiya Development Foundation which facilitates the training of youth in the technology industry.
“When I wake up in the morning, my mantra in the shower is the greater my success, the greater my ability to help others.
“I’m keen on making a difference in unemployment in this country,” she adds.
It is important to do the valuation at least four to five years in, whether as part of the plan to sell the operation or if the owner plans to retire at a set date. This not only provides a clear idea of what to expect but can also help in identifying potential buyers. Owners can choose to price the business according to the cost of creating a similar operation during the time of sale (entry cost method), the return on investment expected (capitalised earnings), its annual earnings (net profit multiplier), or according to its profits (price earnings ratio).
It is important to know when it’s the best time to sell for maximum profit. If changing market conditions cause the value to rocket, or if the owner is in danger of underselling, keeping track of the company’s year-on-year changes could help the owner make a decision to sell or to delay the plans until the market recovers.
Major companies are constantly on the lookout and the most attractive businesses are able to present potential buyers with an accurate value, the company’s assets, growth throughout the life cycle and the potential growth expectations into the future.
Large companies also attempt to acquire businesses for as little as possible, which is why it is important
One of the major risks for small and medium businesses is the sudden death of an owner or partner which demands an accurate valuation to form a part of any succession plan. In order to decide on whether the business needs to be sold on short notice or completely dissolved, there is a need to not only have the open market value available, but also a recent valuation of the resale value of the company’s tangible assets (net asset value), as well as its liquidation value.
It is also important to have an accurate view of the replacement cost of the assets when insuring businesses. This is especially true in instances where assets were acquired over a long timespan as the cost of replacing all of the assets at once may be substantially different from their initial value.
While most businesses understand the market forces that affect their company’s value and future growth, it may not be immediately clear what the impact of each strategic decision taken by the owner will have on the value of a business. Keeping track of the trends in the market will help the company’s growth in value over its life cycle as well.
Owners will also be able to make more informed decisions on growth targets and future decisions.
In conclusion, it needs to be said that valuing any business is a subjective science, as one is essentially trying to offer potential buyers and investors a glimpse into the value that they will get in future. This is why enlisting the services of consultants who are not only reputable but recognised experts in a specific industry is a crucial component to making the most accurate assessment possible.
Ben Bierman is the managing director of Business Partners Limited.
Entrepreneur Yashmita Bhana is founder and chief executive of the Nihka Technology Group.