In addition to promoting educational opportunities for the people of Masiphumelele, Masicorp has also provided ongoing business support to a number of entrepreneurs from the community. Examples include the long established Nonny’s Bakery and Nondeyebo Art, who now sell to tourists from their stall at the V&A Watershed.
In an attempt to formalize this part of our work and to increase the number of people that can be helped, we have established a Business Hub at our offices in the Chasmay Road campus. The Hub is staffed by a group of local business people who are volunteering their time and business expertise to help get new business ideas from the community up and running. Establishing a successful business is tough at the best of times, so the support offered from this initiative is likely to be critical to success on the ground.
The Business Hub meets formally every Wednesday, but potential entrepreneurs can call in to the offices any time to leave details of the business ideas they would like to be supported. The Hub can provide administrative support, access to IT services for existing businesses and can also match entrepreneurs with appropriate education programmes. We have contacts within the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda), and can introduce community entrepreneurs to the support they provide.
Currently the Business Hub is talking to members of the community who have come forward with possible business ideas. We would like to talk to as many new entrepreneurs as possible and to discuss and assist with their business plans, marketing ideas and possibly even assist with loan funding where a strong potential for success is identified. The Hub volunteers can undertake SWOT analysis of new and existing businesses and help members of the community match their skills and services to those that are needed within the community.
Alongside support for new businesses we are also assisting existing businesses to grow with financial and administrative support. Many visitors to Masiphumelele will meet Ndileka Biyo and often purchase clothing from her Baby Shweshwe range. We recently helped Ndileka get her business online and have introduced her to many new selling opportunities at local markets. She has also received assistance in developing her new logo for Biyo Designs, which will cover her full range of products.
In addition Nonny has expanded her business to cater for tourists and other visitors to Masiphumelele, and she now provides delicious home cooked meals from her home. This has proven particularly popular with the visitors on AWOL Tours cycle tours of Masiphumelele. With a little help from the Business Hub team she is also considering the production of a cook book, to share her traditional recipes with a wider audience.
As we identify more local entrepreneurs and help to grow the existing businesses we support it is expected there will be many interesting stories to tell. Watch this space for more updates on this rapidly developing part of our work in the community.