SBU: mentoring small businesses is crucial for growth

An initiative that was started to develop entrepreneurs, Shanduka Black Umbrellas (SBU), through its incubator programme, is at the forefront of mentoring black small business owners. Shanduka CFO Nyasha Dzumbunu, speaking on 13 October 2017 at the Finance Indaba Africa, told small business hopefuls that the idea behind the organisation’s three-year incubator programme caters for small businesses that have the potential for sustainability.

Since its inception, SBU has developed 1,191 small black-owned businesses, contributing to the creation of 10,137 jobs. Although the organisation is now also known as the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation, it was first conceived and spearheaded by Charles Maisel and Mark Frankel as an entity that would support SMEs.

The organisation incubates 100-percent black-owned businesses across every sector in South Africa, provided the business can show that it can make profit and create jobs. While the programme currently accommodates only South Africans, Shanduka is looking to expand to the rest of Africa, starting with Kenya.

An example of a company that has benefited from the incubator program is Avenir Holdings, an engineering management consultancy, which started with two employees and has now grown to employ 24 people. Owner Tshidi Mndzebele said she benefited immensely from the programme. Her company received support in terms of developing HR policies, giving her access to world-class facilities, accessing finance and networking with other businesses.

Zahra Rawjee of Uzenzele Holdings added that the programme helped her gain access to procurements in corporate and put her in touch with service providers that she wouldn't have necessarily had access to before. "I've had access to marketing teams and lawyers who were able to help me grow my business and forego those failures that come with being a startup," she said.

Nyasha told delegates that most businesses were struggling with managing their finances, sales and marketing, and the programme was designed to bridge that gap and in addition, help entrepreneurs develop business skills. "Most first-time business owners are having a hard time separating their personal finance from their business finance, and if this line is not clearly defined it could affect their businesses in future," she said.

Dichabe Lebote, who runs an accounting and auditing company called Atlegang Business Consulting, concurred, adding that compliance was also a major challenge for startups. "We need to practice what we preach as accountants because we always tell people they need to be compliant and have their records up to date," said Dichabe. His advice to small businesses is that they should monitor and track their financial system on a month-to-month basis. It is also important to plan at the beginning of every year, set targets, review your budget consistently, and then track how you've grown in sales in comparison to previous years.

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