Ray Maota The only women graduate, Elizabeth Mokoena (second left), with Imbizo mentor Gideon Selopyane (left); Cedric Buffler, founder of Trident Institute (right); and Debra Marsden, head of business transformation and public affairs at Wiphold. Graduate Ibrahim Baku praised the credibility of the programme saying it wasn’t just corporates trying to look good, and it brought value to his business. Oosthuizen said that Nedbank viewed the small and micro business sector as the lifeblood of the country’s economy. (Images: Ray Maota) MEDIA CONTACTS • Nkosinathi Msiza Nedbank: Communications +27 11 295 5360 RELATED ARTICLES • SA’s competitiveness consistent • Investment incentives portal launched • Insights into doing business in SA • Citizens in charge of their destinyTen small business owners from Kliptown, Soweto – part of 48 selected in three provinces – have graduated from an eight-month pilot business programme aimed at helping them improve their business skills and sustain their livelihoods.The inaugural Imbizo Business Acumen Programme is sponsored by long-term insurance company Old Mutual, along with affiliates Nedbank and Women Investment Portfolio Holdings (Wiphold), an investment company focused on the empowerment of black businesswomen.Sixteen graduates received their programme certificates in Mpumalanga on 11 October, while earlier in the month, on 5 October, the Eastern Cape village of Centane saw five of its own graduate from the course, which began in March. The Kliptown ceremony was held on 13 October.Training focused on management skills for income and bank accounts, establishing a market for their specific business and understanding input costs to ensure the growth of their enterprises.A random selection of business owners from Kliptown and the neighbouring areas of Pimville and Eldorado Park took part. Tutorials were held at the Soweto Kliptown Youth centre and a local church alternately. The two criteria, according to the organisers, were that candidates have to be literate as the course involved a lot of writing, and that their businesses are at least six months old.Nedbank’s head of black business partnerships and alternative segments, Jake Oosthuizen, said his company believes in the small and micro business sector, viewing it as the lifeblood of the country’s economy.“Through the Imbizo programme,” he said, “we affirm that belief and our commitment towards building a sustainable economy by supporting the sector, which has the potential to create jobs.”Old Mutual’s support of the programme is made possible through its Masisizane Fund, formed in 2007 from unclaimed shares left over from the company’s demutualisation process.The fund operates as a non-profit company in consultation with the national treasury, and has a mandate that includes developing disadvantaged businesses with the potential of creating jobs, while also ensuring its own sustainability and growth.“We are excited about the success of this programme,” said Masisizane CEO Simphiwe Somdala. “We are hopeful that it will really assist these small businesses to increase their contribution to the country’s economy in the long run.”Retaining Kliptown’s pulseThe Kliptown graduates all run businesses in and around the township. These range from small spazas (small, makeshift shops for daily amenities, usually run from the owner’s home) and taverns to general dealers who supply the township’s catering and retail sector, tourism-orientated operations like tour guides, and those providing IT solutions to the general public and other businesses.Jabu Masuku runs a general dealership, and at the end of the programme committed himself to resisting the urge to help himself to money in the cash register, a habit he had developed to cover living costs not related to the business.“During the programme, we talked about how people from other neighbourhoods own shops in our area, capitalising on the needs of their market,” he reflected.“They take money out of the region, which is not good for its development.”Businesses in the area should benefit the people of Kliptown, he added.Ibrahim Baku, who also runs the same kind of business, praised the credibility of the programme.“We had to submit three months’ worth of data pertaining to our businesses,” he said, “and the improvement the course has made shows that it’s not just for the companies involved to look good.”Success start inwardsKarabo Songo, MD of Olive Communications, was the keynote speaker at the Kliptown event, and he encouraged the graduates to use the tool they had just earned to succeed.“I have always believed that success starts inwards and flows outwards,” he said. “We all have dreams but what is funny is that they diminish as we grow older.”Songo added that the business owners needed to own their success. “If you own a spaza, you need to be able to say it’s the best spaza in your area or region.”Investing in travelling, he said, would expose the graduates to how other businesses similar to theirs are run, which could have an indirect impact on how they run theirs.“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer,” said Songo. “Seeing what others do outside your environment opens up your mind and makes you a lateral thinker.”The graduates were also told to always have positive thoughts for themselves and their business as they are only confined by the walls they build themselves by having negative thoughts.
Senior IAS officer Ajay Singh, of 1983 batch, has been appointed Chief Secretary of Chhattisgarh on Thursday, replacing Vivek Dhand.Mr. Dhand, of 1981 batch, was Chief Secretary for four years, and was to retire in March. He was named the chairman of the state’s Real Estate Regulatory Authority, but opted for voluntary retirement.