The Business Hub

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.

20160526_133907In 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.

Ndileka Biyo blog

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.

BIYOAlongside 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.

The Watershed Development – Good News for Nondyebo Art

Yesterday was the official opening of the V&A Waterfront’s Watershed development. The 50 million rand redevelopment of the former Craft Market and Wellness Centre, commonly known as the Blue Shed and the adjacent unused Workshop 17, is good news for Nondyebo Art. Nondyebo has been trading from the Blue Shed for several years as reported previously on our blog. During the redevelopment her stall was one of many that was moved to a less obvious location the Robinson Dry Dock. NoNondyebo Artw she is one of 150 small businesses housed in the prestigious development, with exposure to the millions of local and international visitors that the Waterfront welcomes on an annual basis.

Nondyebo Art now have a listing on the V&A Waterfront business website, which can be viewed HERE.

Masicorp continues to assist Nondyebo grow her business. To celebrate the launch of the new venue we have arranged for Ben Nimmo from Solid Ground – who runs a graphic design studio in Muizenberg – to develop a new logo for the business. A new website is also under construction.

NAIn addition Masicorp volunteers have recently helped Nondyebo to better organize her bookkeeping practices. This will save her time and allow her to interact more efficiently with the South African Revenue Service, thus allowing her more time to work on the key activities of her business – producing innovative and beautiful individually hand-painted linens.

Business Entrepreneurship in Masiphumelele

Masicorp has been delighted to host Idaishe Mandinyenya from the University of Edinburgh for the past two months. Ida has been undertaking research work on business entrepreneurship in Masiphumelele as part of her MSc course in International Development. Last week she gave her feedback to us last week and left us with some options on how best to develop this area of our work.

idaAlthough Masicorp is primarily an educational organisation, efforts have been made to also support new entrepreneurs with their start-up process as well as support existing businesses. There have been successes, such as Nonny’s Bakery and Nondeyebo Art, but overall this is an area where Masicorp has made only limited progress, and Ida’s recommendations will prove to be a valuable aid to our future progress.

South Africa generally has a low rate of business entrepreneurship compared to other sub-Saharan African nations. In addition there is very little business permanency, with many start-ups focusing on perceived “easier’ activities in retail and hospitality. There are very specific social realities in a community such as Masiphumelele, where access to start-up capital is virtually non-existent and the distance to markets in the city is exacerbated by the cost of the limited transport options.

Ida clearly identified that two types of innovator typically exists. Opportunity entrepreneurs are the creative individuals who have unique ides and the genuine commitment to grow them into a business that can provide employment opportunities in the community. Ideally they would be the individuals that should benefit from any business support programme. However, necessity entrepreneurs are more common in Masiphumelele, where the need to acquire income to meet daily needs outweighs the desire to build a fully sustainable business.

While she was in Cape Town, Ida took the time to visit other areas of the city where successful township businesses were thriving. In particular she mentioned the well-known Department of Coffee in Khayelitsha as an example of what can be achieved. Together with her local research assistant Ida visited the six existing business supported by Masicorp in Masiphumelele. She undertook semi-structured interviews to gain on overview of how the existing support was being utilised, and how it could be improved to help them move towards some of the best examples she had seen elsewhere.

The future challenge for Masicorp will be focused around selecting appropriate entrepreneurs for our programme and guiding them toward the government support that is available, as well as providing experienced business mentors from within our team and their contacts. It is fair to say that our existing support has often been reactive and provides support for immediate needs – such as simply providing a sign for our most recent beneficiary, Daniel Upholstery.

daniel signWe now have a new programme manager in place and thanks to Ida we also now have some guidance on how to structure this area of our work. We wish Ida well with the rest of her studies, and hope to be able to report back on some more business success stories in the near future.

Nondeyebo’s Art products at the V&A Waterfront

Although most of Masicorp’s projects in Masiphumelele are focused on education we do also assist local entrepreneurs. It is estimated that fewer than 30% of the population have regular employment and for many starting their own small business could provide a path out of poverty. For committed entrepreneurs in Masi there is a range of planning and financial advice, and ongoing business mentoring support that can be offered. Perhaps the best place to start is to look at the example of some of the innovative businesses already operating in the community.

Masicorp’s longest business relationship is with Nondyebo Art products who operate out of a converted garage in the owner’s house. Nondyebo sells linen and artwork designed by herself with the help of her family and several women from the community that she employs. There is an extensive gallery of her products available to view on the Masicorp website and with the help of Masicorp’s Jane Philippi, Nondyebo has been able to sell products online in the United States. Of all the help that has been provided by Masicorp perhaps Nondeyebo’s biggest break came when the Duchess of Cornwall visited Masiphumelele in November 2011. After calling in at some of the crèches in the township the Duchess also visited Nondeyebo’s workshop and spent R3000 on gifts for her family back in the UK. It is tempting to think that somewhere in the hallways of Buckingham Palace there are samples of Nondeyebo’s work hanging today.

Business has been so good for Nondeyebo that she has been able to open a stall in the Blue Shed at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront. As the most visited tourist destination in South Africa the location offers her unprecedented access to international tourists with the recent Christmas holiday period being one of her busiest ever sales periods. Here is Masicorp’s business advisor, Alan McKelvey, with Nondeyebo’s sister at the Blue Shed earlier this month.

2nondeyboHelping to create a successful small business is a complex process but is something that Masicorp is committed to undertaking in Masiphumelele.