Before Time In Soweto – The Décor Hire And Catering Entrepreneurs That...

Before Time In Soweto – The Décor Hire And Catering Entrepreneurs That Are Growing Their Business Annually

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Before Time
Nicole Msibi

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Before Time in Soweto is growing strong

The dad and daughter Soweto-based enterprise – Before Time Indlondlo Events, a catering and events equipment and décor hire company – was launched when a gap in the market was identified about five years ago and has grown steadily, with a strong 70% year on year growth this year.

Nicole Msibi, co-founder with her father Nick Msibi, says they had both been in the hospitality industry, she in catering and as a function organiser, and he as a chef for 30 years. They noticed that at practically every event in Soweto, equipment was hired. It made sense to invest in the sector. Nick resigned from his job and with his pension package, they set up their business, with a warehouse for their equipment based in Protea Glen.

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Having her own business had been a dream of Nicole’s and she says they put their hearts and souls – and lots of sacrifice – into making it a success.

“What makes the business special is that “we don’t only talk service. We make sure that our customers experience value-added service that goes beyond just providing equipment for hire.”

Though they started with equipment hire, they recently extended their portfolio to include doing décor at events, and catering – to harness Chef Nick’s skills.

While their focus is on Gauteng and particularly Soweto and the surrounds, the business reach is “all over the country” says Nicole. They recently went as far afield as Free State and North West, and are prepared to travel wherever needed.

Before Time has four directors – all family members – four permanent staff members, and four part-time employees. Staff training and development is according to passion and skills, says Nicole, whose responsibilities in the company include operations and customer management, office administration and bookkeeping. “In future I intend to enrol staff on courses that will encourage and grow them as individuals, and the company as well.”

before-time-indlondlo-events

Future plans include a strong market penetration strategy to grow the business and become well known and respected in the industry. At this stage, Nicole is proud of the fact that Before Time has been given the opportunity to service major clients such as Sandton Convention Centre, Rand Club, and Bidvest. She has also identified a need in Soweto for an efficiently run conference centre that can accommodate about 200 people – for meetings, conferences, celebrations, weddings, and other events.

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Nicole, who was born in Soweto and grew up in Estcourt in KwaZulu-Natal, has two children, a teenaged daughter and a 9-year-old daughter. She also has three siblings, and says that while the family is separated by distance, they are very close. “Balancing work life and home life takes organisation and planning. I schedule in family days and birthday parties and set boundaries to make sure I have time for my family.”

Social upliftment and “giving back” is also important to Before Time. The company supports vulnerable children, providing school girls with sanitary protection, school fees for children who cannot afford to pay, and school shoes for children who don’t have any.

Nicole joined Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs at the end of 2016, having exhibited at the Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs Showcase at Gold Reef City Theme Park.

“The programme means a lot to me. I have gained self-esteem and I can communicate with people more easily. The coaching helped me believe in myself, work on my goals, collaborate with other businesses in my area, and hold regular staff meetings,” says Nicole. The programme also improved her small business management, business strategy development, and financial and marketing skills.

“Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs gave me light. My business will grow more now that we are connected to this well-known organisation.”

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