Showing posts from May, 2017

Leading SME risk financier's results show solid investment deals but warn of stark challenges ahead

Over the past year, Business Partners Limited (BUSINESS/PARTNERS) - a leading risk financier for SMEs in South Africa and selected African countries - approved 327 investment transactions, amounting to over R1,14 billion, and, in the process facilitated the creation of 12 395 jobs.

This is no mean feat, especially in the context of the country’s subdued macroeconomic environment which prevailed over the period and fluctuating unemployment statistics in South Africa. However, going forward, the results also indicate eroding SME confidence levels and increased concerns around the servicing of debt - if economic and political uncertainty continues to prevail.

BUSINESS/PARTNERS financial results for the year ending March 2017, released today, showed positive investment activity, despite a period characterised by tough trading conditions for SMEs. “R1 147 million was approved for SME finance during our 2016/2017 financial year and while this is slightly under the target of R1,2 billion, t…

The funeral industry helps to drive SMME development

Empowering small business owners remains fundamental to economic transformation and financial inclusion, and is thus a foremost priority in the partnership between Old Mutual and the South African Funeral Practitioners Association (SAFPA).

This is according to Old Mutual’s General Manager for the Foundation Market, Thembisa Mapukata, in her address at the opening of the annual SAFPA conference which took place in East London this week.

Hosted under the theme Breaking Barriers, this two-day-long conference formed part of an ongoing partnership between Old Mutual and SAFPA. Aimed at empowering funeral practitioners from around the country, the event provided a platform to share best practice, promote SMME growth and drive credibility in the industry.

“We are working with SAFPA to ensure that their members prioritise compliance, remain competitive by growing their businesses and continue driving employment in communities while expanding access to financial services at grassroots level,”…

Expect the unexpected when expanding into Africa

Small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) wishing to expand their operations into African countries beyond their borders need to have clear understanding of what they are trying to achieve. It is not a decision that should be taken lightly and even the best-laid plans can be stymied by unexpected challenges.

This is according to Michael Duys, CEO of Duys Engineering, the South African-based operation, which expanded into Mozambique in 2002. His words are echoed by Mark Paper, chief operating officer at Business Partners International who has overseen the expansion of Business Partners Limited brand into five African countries, namely Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Uganda, Rwanda and Zambia.

Duys says in their instance, the expansion was organic. “We followed one of our major customers to Mozambique. It was a bit of a naïve move and we probably set up in Mozambique two years too early. Fortunately we were able to survive on small contracts in 2003 and 2004,” he says.

Duys Engineering is a family…

#SAFranchiseFriday featuring The Fish & Chip Co

The Fish & Chip Co was established to address the need for a solid business opportunity that provides customers with a winning value proposition. At The Fish & Chip Co they believe that franchisees and their employees are the most important people in the organisation. This philosophy and its execution give The Fish & Chip Co a competitive advantage in the market.

The Fish & Chip Co is a member of the Taste Holdings Group and forms part of the Taste Food Division along with Zebro’s, Maxi’s, Domino’s Pizza and Starbucks. The Taste Holdings Group is a South African-based management group with a portfolio of mostly franchised, category specialist and formula-driven, quick-service restaurants and retail brands. Since acquiring The Fish & Chip Co franchise business in 2012, Taste Holdings Limited has grown and cemented its position as leader in the fish and chip segment of the market.

The Fish & Chip Co serves the freshest, tastiest fish and a lo…

#SAFranchiseFriday featuring ActionCoach

ActionCOACH is the world’s leading business coaching firm, committed to providing exceptional business coaching and mentorship for businesses of all sizes. Founded in 1993 by Australian-born entrepreneur Brad Sugars, ActionCOACH’s success has made it one of the fastest growing franchises in the world, with offices in 70 countries.

Since acquiring the ActionCOACH Master Licence for southern Africa in 2007, Harry Welby-Cooke and Pieter Scholtz have established the brand to over 40 franchise partners in the region.

Through their ‘World Abundance through Business Re-education’ vision, the goal of ActionCOACH is to enable ambitious entrepreneurs to be thriving business owners, to build more profitable businesses, reduce stress, and to attract, grow and retain great teams within a thriving company culture.

By employing the latest and most effective methodologies, ActionCOACH business coaches provide one-on-one coaching, a range of mentoring and group coaching program…

New wheels for Xolani

Engel & Völkers Hyde Park recently shifted its focus from dream homes to granting a little boy’s dream. Chwayita Hoyi, Property Sales Advisor and event organiser said “Engel & Völkers understands that to build a sustainable and thriving business it is imperative to work alongside the community in which you operate. We are cognisant of the needs of society around us and feel it is our duty and responsibility to give back and in our small way impact and improve the lives of the most vulnerable amongst us”. An opportunity presented itself at the Christmas market of St David’s Marist Inanda School, where Engel & Völkers Hyde Park took part and sponsored some activities for the children.

A raffle was held and the lucky winner had an opportunity to nominate a charity of their choice. The winner was Joanna Coetzee, one of the parents at the school who chose a 10-Year-old boy named Xolani Zondo from Forest Town School for children with special needs.

Young Xolani suffers from cere…

Last chance to enter premier entrepreneurial competition and win! Entries close 31 May 2017

There is just one week to go before entries for the 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS close.

Now in its 29th year, the 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition – South African’s premier entrepreneurial platform – seeks to honour dedicated entrepreneurs who have made great strides in their businesses and whose passion for growing their businesses and communities inspires and stimulates the nation.

Entering entrepreneurs stand the chance to now only win cash prizes – R60 000 for each of the five main category winners, and R160 000 for the overall winner – but the competition also offers valuable mentorship support, networking opportunities and national media exposure that will increase their business’ brand awareness.

There are various categories for local entrepreneurs to enter. To enter, please can visit and fill out the two page entry form. Entries close on 31 May 2017. For more information on the competition, call 011…

Are SA consumers ready for the financial services shakeup that lies ahead?

Consumer education is key to success of proposed changes

The South African financial services sector is undergoing major changes as the industry prepares for the introduction of the Financial Services Board’s Retail Distribution Review (RDR). However, many consumers – the primary intended beneficiaries of the regulatory overhaul – remain largely unaware of what RDR is and how it will impact them once implemented. The Financial Services Board (FSB) noted in its most recent status update that consumer education will be essential for RDR to achieve its objectives.

Lizl Budhram, Head of Advice at Old Mutual Personal Finance, says that while implementation of RDR will be gradual, it is important that consumers take heed of the changing environment to ensure they are equipped to achieve the best outcome available to them in the future.

“For consumers, the greatest change triggered by RDR will be the clear demarcation of fees for financial products and financial advice. Currently, when a fi…

Is entrepreneurship a trip best travelled alone?

Every so often, an entrepreneurial endeavour will be a collective effort - from idea to execution - resulting in a business being built around a partnership of complete equal ownership and responsibility. More commonly, however, an idea will sprout from a single individual who, upon cultivating the concept and embarking on their entrepreneurial journey, must decide whether they want – or need - a business partner to join them.

Christo Botes, spokesperson for the 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year competition® sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS, says that the decision of whether or not to take on a partner is an important one that should not be taken lightly. “There are definitely pros and cons to both approaches, but one thing is for sure – deciding whether or not to take on a business partner is one of the most critical decisions an entrepreneur will ever make with regards to their business.”

The prospect of starting and running a business solo has some obvious appeal, says Botes. “…

Five ways to drive customer loyalty through marketing touchpoints

Getting new customers is a good thing, however you only win big if you can turn them into loyal customers, and loyalty is only possible when your customers have a satisfying emotional experience after doing business with you. 

“Building loyalty is about more than satisfied customers,” says Sylvia Schutte, managing director of Stratitude. “To create loyal customers you have to engage and delight them at every touchpoint during their experience with you. It’s no use having a website with all the bells and whistles but your contact centre prompts get customers’ tempers flared up.”

According to Schutte these are the five ways you can build customer loyalty:

1.    Enrol customers in a relevant loyalty programme with benefits that they value
Research shows that customers value programmes where they save money, but you shouldn’t limit yourself to only providing benefits with a financial saving or the ability to earn points on purchases. Benefit programmes such as Cell C’s GetMore do exceptional…

Masisizane Fund reveals the recipe for successful development of local SMMEs

“Less talking and more action is needed if small, local businesses are to thrive,” this is according to Zizipho Nyanga, CEO of the Masisizane Fund. She adds that practical plans to partner and collaborate with local businesses is required if the country is to create meaningful development of entrepreneurs.

The Masisizane Fund will be hosting the second stakeholder workshop in Gauteng this month, “We have travelled to all corners of our country and have received very favourable feedback from our stakeholders; and on Wednesday, 17 May 2017, our Gauteng partners in both public and private sector will be meeting to discuss how to strengthen the existing partnerships in the second workshop. These are positive sessions where feedback is given to us outlining ongoing needs, and requirements to bridge any gaps there may be. These sessions are extremely constructive as we all want to achieve the common goal of eradicating poverty through job creation,” says Nyanga.

Established in 2007, follo…

Entrepreneurs should not underestimate the value of great advice

Access to advice and mentorship from experienced people is key to helping small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) build successful and sustainable businesses. A lack of contact with established entrepreneurs is a major threat to the success and growth of new entrepreneurs, particularly youth and women entrepreneurs. The 2016/2017 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor recommends building support structures that enable entrepreneurs to access advice and mentorship.

Creating opportunities for SMMEs to connect with great advice is the focus of Old Mutual as sponsor of the Cape Media SMME Opportunity Roadshow. According to Zizipho Nyanga, CEO of the Old Mutual Masisizane Fund, providing SMMEs with access to sound advice is as important as providing access to funding, and greater attention needs to be given to this aspect of SMME development.

“Many small businesses fail to cross initial hurdles because they operate in isolation. Access to sound advice can help entrepreneurs navigate the cha…

Engel & Völkers Hartbeespoort Dam celebrates their 9th Birthday

Special occasions are made to be celebrated, and May sees us celebrating our Hartbeespoort Dam Licence's Birthday. We had a chat to the Licence Partner of Engel & Völkers Hartbeespoort Dam, Cherry Grobler to gain some insight into their business and reflect back on where it all started. “We would also like to thank the entire team for their years of dedication and hard work, and wish them the best of success for many years to come” says Craig Hutchison, CEO of Engel & Völkers Southern Africa.

Why did you join E&V?
After already being the principal of my own business, the opportunity arose to take over the Hartbeespoortdam office with Antoinette Swanepoel. It was very exciting to be in a position to join such a well-established and well-known brand.

What is your connection to property?
I had my own estate agency for more than 20 years before joining Engel & Völkers.
I specialised in Kosmos Village and sold many properties more than once over the years. 

What does your…

How South African businesses can embrace the tech revolution

The Fourth Industrial Revolution was a hot topic at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos and more recently WEF Africa in Durban. But what does a technology-driven revolution mean for local entrepreneurs and the local small business environment?

Marwaan Sasman, founder and creative director of Pigeon Pie: Design Lab, a beneficiary of the Innovator Trust, says it is a window of opportunity for all. He says technology currently drives the industry and the economy and with every new software application, digital platform or piece of hardware, comes a completely new market opportunity.

“The market is changing rapidly. The small innovative companies will be able to out-pace their slow and established contemporaries with their legacy systems. There is massive scope for growth,” Sasman says.

 The Innovator Trust was specifically formed to grow small black- owned businesses in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector and to help develop competent SMME’s through training…

8 ways small businesses can maintain financial health in an unhealthy economic environment

As South Africa’s newly appointed Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba continues to engage with international investors in an attempt to salvage the country from a third credit rating downgrade, local businesses brace themselves for the inevitable ripple effects caused by a low growth economic environment and the increased burden placed on domestic banks.

Jeremy Lang, regional general manager at Business Partners Limited (BUSINESS/PARTNERS), says that in order to maintain their financial health in this challenging economic environment, South African businesses – particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – need to stay on top of their financial information and proactively manage their relationships with debtors, creditors and funders.

“As local businesses will now likely face greater challenges in obtaining and servicing loans, the ability to keep up to date with financial obligations and payments will, for many, become strained. This will further hinder the promptness of busin…

How to decide on the best panel van for your small business - and when to replace it

For most small and medium enterprises (SMEs), business growth almost always means acquiring a business vehicle. The question is how to optimise its value to the company when the vehicle is new, and then to determine just when it needs to be replaced, says Datsun South Africa.

Both questions about buying and replacing a delivery vehicle are critical to SME owners who need to keep a wary eye on cash flow. It is important to ensure that, despite fluctuating fuel prices and the reducing value of the rand, that costs for a business vehicle are kept under control, says Des Fenner, General Manager of Datsun South Africa.

“When buying a new delivery vehicle, questions should be asked about three different types of costs. These are the initial price of the vehicle, maintenance intervals and costs, and what expenses can be expected if repairs to the body or engine are required.”

Some key considerations to ensure that these are manageable is by:
Matching the panel van to its purpose. Consider what…

Entrepreneurs: Be recognised for your vital role in SA's development

Last chance to enter premier entrepreneurial competition

Many people fail to differentiate between inventors and innovators, and are therefore under the misconception that a prerequisite for being a successful entrepreneur is the creation of something completely new and unique. However, as many of the entrepreneurs recognised in the Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS will be able to attest to, this is in fact seldom the case.

Gugu Mjadu, spokesperson for the competition, says being a successful entrepreneur is simply about doing something better than your competitors, regardless of who came up with the concept first. “All entrepreneurs are innovators as they have recognised a trend in an industry or identified a shortcoming, and then proactively created a solution to capitalise on a demand or overcome the problem at hand.”

“While sometimes it is about re-inventing the wheel, more often it is about making the wheel better. This can be achieved…

A new model for family business – the power of franchising

There’s a new way to get a family business off the ground in the 21st century – the power of franchising, says Renee Perkin (40), who launched Cash Converters Oxford Village in Hillcrest, outside Durban, this month.

“I was definitely attracted to Cash Converters by my father’s experiences,” she says. “He was national operations manager for the company until 2010, when he bought his first franchise. Now he owns the top two stores in Durban, at Greyville and Pinetown. My goal is to grab that title for my new store!”

Renee trained as a dental technician but by 2010, she was beginning to feel that these long hours were difficult with two small children and that she needed a career change anyway. A phonecall from her dad, Bruce Houghting, changed life for herself and her family.

“Dad asked me if I would consider managing his first store in Greyville, Durban, for him,” she recalls. “It was a lot more than just changing jobs. I was born and brought up in Gauteng and I had my husband and chi…

Why cash likely won't be king for much longer

Breaking the habit: the shift from traditional to more innovative payment methods

Innovation is increasingly changing the way consumers engage with the world. Yet how we transact remains stagnant, with many in South Africa continuing to make use of cash as a preferred payment method, despite having access to more effective, safer methods.

Research by MasterCard Advisors’ Cashless Journey study showed that cash accounts for over 90% of all consumer transactions in many inception countries, under which South Africa is categorised, while only 6% of consumer payment transactions are done using non-cash methods.

Thomas Pays, CEO and co-founder of i-Pay –an online payment gateway, says that while online payments may be more common and understood in developed countries, South Africa is increasingly making inroads for more cashlessness behaviour for a number of reasons. “Rising consumer awareness around the high costs, risks and effort required when using cash and credit cards to transact is res…

Make sure the franchise you choose is a FASA accredited member

At the recent World Franchise Council meeting in London, of which the Franchise Association of South Africa (FASA) is a member, the focus was on sustaining the growth of franchising worldwide in continuing turbulent times through ethical franchise principles.

According to Vera Valasis, Executive Director of FASA, “at the meeting it was acknowledged that upholding ethical franchise principles through franchise association accreditation continues to be the key to the healthy growth of franchising globally. This is proving to be a challenge in South Africa as the legislative wheels grind slowly and although FASA was able to influence the inclusion of provisions for franchising in the Consumer Protection Act, there are very few checks and balances to ensure that franchisors are indeed adhering to the provisions of the Act.”

The appointment of an ombud, which was gazetted in 2016, has also yet to happen. FASA remains the only body that is ensuring that its accredited members, who voluntari…

Cash Converters Independence Avenue – Back on top as best in Southern Africa

At the prestigious Cash Converters Southern Africa annual stores awards held at Fancourt in George, South Africa, in March 2017, Cash Converters Independence Avenue in Windhoek beat 73 other stores to be crowned the Store of the Year for 2016!

The Cash Converters Store of the Year awards are highly competitive and the criteria of assessment include compliance to the international brand values; service excellence; merchandising; general management; comprehensive audits as well as mystery shopper assessments. Being on top of their game however is a constant driver for this store. Since their opening in 2011 where they won ‘Newcomer of the Year’, they have consistently been the regional winners. In 2012 they were crowned the best store in Southern Africa and last year they were runners-up.

“My staff are very driven and enthusiastic, and whether it be on the retail floor or in our buy shop, we always strive to be the best every day in every little thing that we do. It is our customers how…

Public-private partnerships essential to combat economic woes

Business Partners Limited SME Index first quarter 2017 results

While South Africa prepares for what will likely be a rollercoaster period, it is once again evident how big a role economic and political uncertainty can play in the minds of local business owners, and the extent to which this impacts small and medium enterprises’ (SMEs’) confidence levels and their ability to do business.

The first quarter 2017 Business Partners Limited SME Index showed that for the first time since the fourth quarter of 2015, all business confidence indicators reported a sharp decline. When surveyed on whether government is doing enough to foster SME development in South Africa, business owners reported an average confidence level of 37% (down by three percentage points from the previous quarter).

Ben Bierman, managing director at Business Partners Limited (BUSINESS/PARTNERS), says that the country’s recent downgrade announcements by ratings agencies, Fitch and Standard & Poor’s, and reports of a …