Retail Capital is giving SMEs an opportunity to win a makeover to build their brand with an investment of R250,000. During the summer campaign, SMEs are encouraged to share the vision of how they would like to see their business grow, and led by a team of experts, Retail Capital will work with the winning SME to help make their vision come true.
While South Africa’s economy is not faring well, Retail Capital CEO Karl Westvig remains optimistic about the country’s retail and hospitality sectors. “We are seeing some green shoots, with an increase in turnover in these sectors – starting from the end of September. Economic conditions remain very tough, but businesses seem to be trading well into October and we’re hoping this continues into the festive season trading.”
According to recent statistics from Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), South Africa’s retail sales rose by 5.5% year-on-year in August 2017, following a downwardly revised 1.6% gain in the previous month and above market expectations of 2.3%. It is the biggest gain in retail trade since August of 2012.
Related: How To Raise Working Capital Finance
“I do believe that these sectors will see an improvement during the summer season. But, key to this will be for small business owners to ensure that they have the right amount of stock, adequate cash flow, as well as other systems in place to meet the ever-changing needs of customers,” says Westvig.
For many small businesses, however, continually adapting to market changes requires cash injections that they don’t often have.
The prize includes the following:
- Business plan/consulting
- Marketing strategy
- Design and branding
- Website and social Media and,
- R50k capital to gear your business.
Westvig explains that the summer campaign tagline ‘Your Vision. Our Belief’ really speaks to why Retail Capital first opened its doors. “Our goal is to see the potential of small businesses and to work with them in making these become a reality.”
He adds that the idea is not to simply help one business during the campaign either. Westvig points out that one of the biggest challenges that small businesses face in the sluggish economy is enough foot traffic through their doors. “Generally, the main hurdle in creating brand awareness and projecting credibility of their establishments boils down to establishing a strong online presence.”
“One of the first ways that South Africans identify a business or service provider that they want to work with is over social media – even in a country where the digital divide has traditionally separated the technological haves from the have-nots,” he says.
He explains that companies that don’t have a social media presence are running the risk of being overlooked entirely. “They may attract customers in their own community with signage or word of mouth, but to grow a business, they need to expand their reach – and that’s where social media comes in.”
But, the reality is that resource and time constraints mean that for many SMEs, social media is not prioritised. “Unfortunately for the average small business owner, they don’t have the time or expertise to get connected.”
Understanding the importance of having an online presence, Retail Capital has also committed to developing the digital presence of all campaign entrants. This would include setting up each entrant’s digital presence on platforms such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Tripadvisor, Zomato and any others that may be relevant to their specific market or industry.
“As a partner to many SMEs in South Africa, we are continually looking at new and innovative ways to help provide them with the much-needed support in order for them to realise their visions. SMEs need to be supported with initiatives like targeted education and training, supportive legislation, and funding opportunities that collectively help them grow our national economy,” says Westvig.
Who we are and what we do:
“More than R1.25 billion has been extended to a range of businesses including food trucks, hair salons, restaurants, spas and franchised retail stores. Many of these businesses have not been able to raise funding in any other way, other than to go to unscrupulous lenders,”says Karl Westvig, the CEO Retail Capital, a company that provides working capital with the help of innovative lending technology.
“We have also estimated that for every R160 000 we lend, we create a new job. This means that 625 jobs have been created purely by enabling small businesses to get the funding they need for working capital requirements or expansion opportunities.”
Retail Capital’s system, which enables it to advance funding to small businesses, based on real time information on credit card transactions, is providing a new funding alternative to entrepreneurs who have previously been turned away by banks. Because it is able to get actual sales information, it can approve funding immediately, and allow for flexible repayment options based on sales cycles of the particular businesses it is funding.
“This creates significant opportunity for small business owners to focus on their business and grow volumes or look for expansion opportunities rather than spend their time frantically trying to repay debt or keep the business alive after debt repayments have eaten away at any cash reserves they might have had.”
Retail Capital funding is repaid by it taking a percentage of a business’s recorded credit or debit card sales, with repayments fluctuating in line with their business cycle. This has the effect of ensuring that it isn’t overburdened with debt.
“In the past six years since starting the business, small businesses have had the benefit of R1 billion in funding they would have been unable to get through traditional channels,”says Westvig.
Against the backdrop of recessionary conditions in South Africa, Retail Capital’s client information reveals growth in informal sector turnover across a number of industries.
“We believe that growth in the informal sector is outstripping that of the formal sector,”says Westvig.
As a large proportion of the businesses it funds are women- and black-owned, there is evidence that entrepreneurs who have previously been excluded from access to finance are now enjoying success now that their access to finance problem has been solved.
Why Customers Don’t Respond To Disruption
You’ve got chatbots running your customer service, interactive screens across your stores and you’ve just appointed a chief digital officer. Why aren’t you seeing sales going through the roof?
PwC partner Quinton Pienaar says there could be many reasons for this. But the short answer is probably that in your understandable rush to stay relevant and keep up with the latest technology trends and developments, you lost sight of your number one priority. You’re just not that into your customers – and they know it.
It’s fairly easy to get dazzled by the array of technologies out there. But the trap that you’ve got to guard against is that you start seeing the world through a technology lens, rather than a customer one. Remember, technology is a tool, not an outcome. It’s the means to the end, not the end itself.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t be transforming your business digitally. You absolutely should. But there’s a big difference between investing in technology to keep up with the Joneses, and investing in technology that’s going to drive specific business outcomes and improve the customer experience.
Related: Reimagine The Use Of Technology
In fact, it would be downright dangerous to ignore the game-changing benefits that the current wave of emerging technologies brings to the table. To understand what they can do for your business, you have to know what they are. We at PwC talk about the ‘essential eight’:
- The Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are the building blocks for the next generation of digital work.
- Robotics, drones, and 3-D printing are all about machines that extend the reach of computing power into the material world.
- Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) merge the physical and digital realms, and offer incredible advances in customer experience.
- Blockchain rethinks our approach to commercial transactions by allowing participants to exchange value, and verify ownership of something, without a third party.
Some of these technologies are verging on science fiction. So how do we use them in a way that supports customer obsession? The starting point of any successful customer transformation is a customer-focused design that brings together three essential elements – business strategy, customer experience and technology – into a coherent, fully-fledged digital strategy.
In other words, today’s most successful companies have a strategy that is focused around a simple and regularly-updated list of priorities. They incorporate the new generation of technologies like IoT, blockchain and AI. But they keep their people, and their customers at the core of their business by designing strategies that directly address customers’ underlying needs and desired outcomes.
This sounds dead obvious. But what we find is that many companies we talk to are focused on growing their revenues, or making improvements to their products and services, rather than creating better customer experiences. Or they have the strategy, but are battling to execute it effectively.
Of course, to underpin this customer transformation journey, you’re going to need some data and the foundational technologies on which today’s innovations depend – data mining and analytics, mobile, and cloud. You may also need to rethink your processes to manage, enrich and maintain data, and operationalise it throughout your business.
So you have all of that in place? Good. Now stop. Breathe. Ask yourself whether your technology and data are truly supporting an unwavering focus on the customer. Because if you take one message from this article, let it be this: in today’s marketplace, putting your customer at the centre of your business is imperative to driving growth and profitability, winning market share and unlocking the value of your technology investments.
Start This Business With Zero Advertising Budget And No Need For Premises
What do we need to do to make our chances of entrepreneurial success as high as possible? Is it possible to build and position a business that has the highest statistical chances of survival? How would we even go about building such a business? Financial Freedom Project seems to have the answer.
What are the causes of most business failures?
When it comes to business failure in South Africa, the numbers aren’t optimistic. Some of the more common reasons for business failure include:
- Start-up funding
- Ongoing support
- Lack of new business to sustain growth
- Admin time / costs associated with running a business
- High cost of equipment / premises
- Advertising budget
- Cost of personnel labor
- Legalities of employment contracts
- Costs of credit
- Market experience
- Competition within the industry
- Current market conditions.
With the odds stacked against you, what type of business could you start that offers you:
1. Minimal start-up funding
Consider minimal start-up funding requirements to mitigate as much risk as possible and make start-up as easy and quick as possible.
We need to go as low as less than one month of one month’s average salary as so to be able to start this business on the spot. Let’s make our criteria less than R10 000.
2. Mentor/ Trainer support
For support and experience we need to have easily accessible communication methods with a mentor / trainer i.e. WhatsApp and skype.
3. Access to a market full of customers with unlimited spending ability
Want a colossal market, how about an estimated 5.3 Trillion Dollars a day?
4. No need for an advertising budget
Maybe a business where customers come to you without advertising because they want what you have. Let’s be ridiculous and put a zero advertising budget.
5. Minimum paper work / admin requirements before and after sales
Let’s aim for no admin and have everything processed and stored online for absolute minimal ongoing costs.
6. No premises required
You can work from anywhere at minimal cost and only need one computer.
7. No employees required
This business must be able to run as a “one man show” as to exclude all labor costs and employment legalities. As in previous point, let’s aim for one person to run this business and internet to stay connected to the world.
8. Little competition
This industry offers the least possible competition between participants.
9. A industry with no “seasonal times” so you can make money all the time
To get a never ending supply of opportunity we absolutely have to be a part of the global supply and demand system.
10. A proven concept
This will be outlined below.
What’s the business?
Financial Freedom Project provides you with a long-term financial freedom by utilising financial markets. The Financial Freedom Project is a results-based wealth creation training and mentorship programme that has start-up capital requirements of only R4 000 to begin accessing markets. The course requires only 3 days of your time and offers unlimited course re-sits.
For more information about how you can work with Financial Freedom Project visit financialfreedomproject.net or call them on 010 020 5699 for further info.
The Make Up of Makeup: How One Entrepreneur is Changing the Cosmetics Industry
Energetic, enthusiastic and fun are three words to describe Alina Lucía Imbeth Luna. But her favorite words are organic, vegan and cruelty free. They’re the backbone of her Medellin, Colombia-based cosmetics company, Pure Chemistry. Learn how this chemist and engineer is revolutionizing the cosmetics industry and read about her advice for future entrepreneurs.
This article originally appeared on FedEx Blog.
What is Pure Chemistry?
Pure Chemistry is a company that invents, manufactures and sells beauty products directly to the consumer. What makes us stand out is that we are certified organic, vegan, and cruelty-free.
Many companies say they do no testing on animals, but we go one step further. None of our processes or ingredients has any animal components. Ingredients from animals are common in the cosmetic industry but for us it is not an option.
If it’s common, how do you avoid using them?
For virtually any synthetic or animal ingredient, there is an organic, plant-based alternative.
Collagen, for example, is an animal protein that we don’t use because there are vegetable alternatives that give us better results.
As for honey, we don’t take honey away from bees, we use cane honey.
So for whatever reason people have, be it religion, ethics or they just decide not to use a product that has ingredients that come from or are tested on animals, they can come to Pure Chemistry.
Many companies use the word “organic,” but you are “certified organic.” How is that different?
We are proud to have the Ecocert certification. Ecocert is an international entity that has a standard for the definition of what’s considered organic cosmetics.
To get certified, ingredients need to come from renewable resources, manufacturing must be environmentally friendly, packaging must be biodegradable or recyclable so it’s not just about the product, it’s also the packaging and the production of all our ingredients.
Certification, for us, is very important. I could tell you right now that I am Hillary Clinton, but if I don’t show you an I.D., you won’t believe me, right?
That’s why it’s important to be certified.
How are your products tested?
Our products are tested on people because they are made for people.
We have a testing club at Pure Chemistry. Many are from our University and are chemists and physicists as well friends and customers who volunteer to test our products.
People call all the time about being in our new product test group and we pay no one for testing. This is very important to us so people are honest about the product and their results.
What is your team like?
We are a company of women and everyone has their own expertise.We all have some authority roles over our own specialties but there are no hierarchies here. The business model is a circle. We all support each other.
We have no set schedule. Our team comes to work when they need to – at the time that they need to work. You don’t have to be sitting here doing nothing if, at that time, there is nothing to do. It works very well for us.
Our customers are also an important part of the Pure Chemistry team. Since 2015, many new product ideas have come from clients’ requests. They write to us, send us messages, and we keep a list.
People started requesting, “Please, we need a toothpaste,” and we said, “Let’s work on a toothpaste.”
Others wrote, “Please, we need a product in a size that can go in a carry on bag at the airport,” so we did.
We mean it when we tell our clients, “Your comment, message, suggestion won’t be in vain.”
How hard is it to develop your products?
As a child, you don’t think about having to make money to do this and that.
For me, product development is like that little girl inside me that wants to experiment.
It’s fun, but not easy. It took us almost six years to develop a shampoo to make sure it did not have sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate, the quickest, fastest, and cheapest way to make shampoo. It took us that long to get a product that would comply with the organic certification and one that you could use on both babies and adults.
We also have to think ahead. When we started developing nail polish, we also needed an organic nail polish remover, one that was also not flammable so it can easily be shipped internationally. Now we have a patent pending water based nail polish remover.
We are always amazed and encouraged when something that we came up with is working for someone. They write things like “I love this product. I love this company. I love you guys.” It’s very heartwarming.
This is what makes me get up in the morning.
It’s creativity with a purpose.
What advice do you have for other women entrepreneurs?
Don’t just make a business plan and wait. Entrepreneurship shouldn’t stay on paper.
There should be no excuses. Go for it. Be willing to make mistakes. As long as you are clear about where you want to go, there are many ways to get there. You can make a mistake, you can fall, a million things can happen.
Examine and redefine your goals as you learn from your mistakes.
What advice do you have for little girls?
I would tell any little girl or boy, “Start by writing it.” Write about what you want to do, what you dream about.
As years go by, look to see if that was just a kid thing, a whim, or if it was really a dream. As you grow up you forget that as a child you wanted many things, but if you write them down, it will give you something to look back on.
For me, I can say, “Look, I wanted to be a scientist, and I did it!”
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