Entrepreneur Training at the Business Hub

Last month Masicorp held an entrepreneur training event at the Business Hub at the Chasmay Road Campus. The event was delivered by ambassadors from Knowledge 2 Share, a non-profit organization from the Netherlands who we are pleased to partner with to develop the business development work we undertake in the community. Knowledge 2 Share have a mission to: “To empower entrepreneurs and to foster economic growth and development in developing areas across the globe.” For the past few months they have been in South Africa and we were delighted to host them here in Masiphumelele.

17038552_1409476542426977_5315472419957977579_oThe training course ran one day a week for four weeks and was extremely well attended. Our thanks also go out the attendees from both Masiphumelele and Ocean View who took the time to participate. There were many presentations and quite a bit of theory around business development and marketing, but there was also a lot of time to discuss individual business ideas and work on funding and marketing plans.

kIt was not all theory –  Khulah was also a guest lecturer. Khulah is a local entrepreneur from Khayelitsha. Although facing many of the same difficulties as members of the Masiphumelele community, Khulah managed to start his own company. He is the owner of the company Nurturer, through which he tries to make people aware of the importance of using ecofriendly products. He sells natural cleaning and personal beauty products. With his company he also provides jobs for his community with the use of direct sellers.

DGNonesi Degraicia Matshoba, DG to her friends, was just one of our attendees. She used to be a chef, but wanted to start working for herself. She left the restaurant she worked at and started making braai meat. Now she has her own shop where she can serve customers. DG wants to develop her own business, but also inspire people to start up for themselves and make them aware that it is possible for everyone.

The course finished with each student being given the time to pitch their own business idea with feedback provided from the Knowledge 2 Share team. There was even a short graduation before it was time to head back home and start putting those plans into practice. We hope to be able to run more events in the future, given the high level of interest, so please look out for details of these events on our Facebook page.

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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.

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.