Going it alone and succeeding isn’t unheard of in entrepreneurial circles – but getting the right backing can accelerate your success. South African SMEs have a ‘big brother’ in Black Umbrellas, explains CEO Seapei Mafoyane.
The networks that the programme has are extensive. Along with mentorship, when these building blocks come together, they do something really majestic for the outlook of SMEs.
“The perception of SMEs in corporate South Africa is that they’re risky, unreliable and incompetent,” says Seapei. This results in a lack of opportunities for SMEs because large corporates still view them as potentially risky.
Joining Black Umbrellas offers the following:
Belonging to a group of people who are going through the same challenges that they are. I think it’s extremely encouraging to find people who understand the challenges in the environment you’re going through.
2. Entrepreneurial spirit
You find businesses in different sectors and at different maturity levels in their business lifecycle. It’s very encouraging for someone starting out in their business to find a more mature business, perhaps in their second or third year, that has banked some projects.
3. Relying on a big brother
Black Umbrellas has been able to build a brand that is recognised for understanding the needs of corporate South Africa and being able to empathise with the requirements and support structures of SMEs. What entrepreneurs look for in the programme is that big brother that helps them weather the storm.
“In a market where there’s quite a visceral relationship between corporate South Africa — where the majority of markets are — and smaller, medium enterprises trying to locate those opportunities, Black Umbrellas really is a meeting place,” says Seapei.
“We provide a marketplace for corporate buyers and SMEs to come together in an environment that is trusted. Some of the opportunities our businesses are able to access would not have been accessible to them if they were flying solo.”
SMEs abound, but it’s not always easy for larger corporations to find, vet and mentor them.
SMEs that join the Black Umbrellas programme have reported reaching levels they never saw themselves achieving outside of the programme.
“It sounds overly-simplistic, but I think the change is tremendous when SMEs join Black Umbrellas,” says Seapei. “It’s quite a thing to watch: A business trying to do this on their own and how their outcomes change when they join the programme.” Black Umbrellas opens them up to a network of help that is as wide as it is deep.
The Power of Partnership
“We’d never be able to do anything we do without relying on collaboration,” emphasizes Seapei. “We rely very heavily on corporate partnerships to avail those opportunities to us and those markets for SMEs to be able to do what they do.”
Black Umbrellas has an extensive network of funders and donors that is expanding continuously and prides itself on being the custodian of SME development in South Africa. She says the programme aims to ensure high-impact SMEs produce incredible results to turn the outlook of the economy around.
One of Black Umbrellas’ longest-standing partnerships is with Transnet:
- Transnet understands the mandate set out by Black Umbrellas and the need to invest in entrepreneurs.
- We’re able to support their supply chain through the development of these dynamic businesses that go on to transform their supply chain and respective communities
- Transnet has an incredible impact on the economy — through just two small incubators in Richard’s Bay and Port Elizabeth, with almost 500 jobs, which is a huge social return on investment.
BECOME A BLACK UMBRELLAS SME
Black Umbrellas’ mandate
Many start-ups don’t make it beyond the first two years because of inadequate planning, lack of support, financial or knowledge resources. Yet the growth of the SME sector in South Africa is vital for economic development of our country and in solving the unemployment crisis.
Black Umbrellas offers a platform through which to develop a business from its start-up phase to full independence. Because the programme addresses the multidimensional components required to develop an emerging business into a sustainable one, entrepreneurs are 100% supported on their business journey, which gives them the leverage to succeed. This support includes access to markets, networks and finance.
Emerging businesses are supported with infrastructure, mentorship and collaboration, to assist their transition from incubation to viable, independent businesses.
For committed, hardworking and dedicated entrepreneurs, this multi-tiered business support programme is an important catalyst in enterprise development.
Related: 10 Dynamic Black Entrepreneurs
Black Umbrellas’ contribution to the economy
- In seven years 1 000 SMEs have achieved a collective turnover of over R2 billion
- The programme has contributed a combined R118 million in taxes back to the fiscus
- Over 10 000 jobs have been created through our SMEs
- R436 million in salaries has been contributed as a result of the programme.
Mistakes to avoid when establishing your SME within a large supply chain
Focus on a specific area where you can add real value. You’ll never be able to maximise every opportunity by trying to be all things to all people, says Seapei. “As an SME you want to find a particular niche that you can fill successfully, thereby maximising your unique value proposition.”
Who should apply?
- Entrepreneurs with a business enterprise at its start-up phase
- The business should be registered with the Companies & Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC), and for small business tax
- You must have the passion to succeed and be willing to work to achieve your business goals
- You must be South African and black according to the BEE definition.
The 2017 National Enterprise Development Awards
Top performing small and medium enterprises have been recognised at the Black Umbrellas National Development Awards. Black Umbrellas established the National Enterprise Development Awards (NEDA) in recognition of the achievements of the entrepreneurs in their business incubation programme. These awards highlight the hard work and dedication required to establish and sustain a successful business that creates jobs and contributes to the economy.
The finalists were selected from regional enterprise development awards ceremonies held at each of the Black Umbrellas incubators across the country. The businesses in the incubators have altogether created and preserved over 10 000 jobs across key economic sectors, which include mining, construction, engineering, security services and project management.
Overall winners were:
- Most Jobs Created: Hula Minerals and Processing
- Best Performing Company: Aquila Projects (PTY) LTD
- Best BU Ambassador: Recycle 1st
- Overall National Winner: Modi Mining
- Incubator of the Year: Johannesburg incubator
- People’s Choice Award Winner: Recycle 1st
Seven Years 1 000 SMEs R2 billion collective turnover
- Contributed a combined R118 million in taxes back to the fiscus
- Created more than 10 000 jobs
- Contributed R436 million in salaries
- Expect more from your ESD Investment.
Investing In Value Creation Tools Can Help Your Business Grow
ACCA on attracting new clients, establishing and strengthening commercial partnerships and accessing external finance to help your business expand.
The business journey of many SMEs is often characterised by a gradual change in internal management practices which develop as the business operations grow. The subsequent recognition of the business’s value creation, across all its operations – tends to emerge slowly but surely alongside this process.
Gaining an understanding of ongoing value creation can be challenging. This is because smaller companies tend to not have access to simple and understandable data sets on everything, which is and isn’t contributing to value across the business.
For example, customer and supplier relationships, human capital and intellectual property are all common examples of activities where SMEs regularly experience difficulties in determining the real contribution to the businesses’ overall value. These are areas that are not picked up by financial reports that are a focal point of many growing businesses, hence the importance of these areas in business is not given the proper attention it deserves.
However, by improving trust and relationships between customers and those along your supply chain, this information can be used to attract new clients, establish and strengthen commercial partnerships and access external finance to help your business expand.
Key actions to consider when capturing the value within your business include the following:
- Use cloud and data analytics technology to support growth;
- Create a business strategy which incorporates everything;
- Allow staff to use new technologies to innovate; and
- Appreciate the importance of technology in attracting external finance.
These actions will help you succeed in developing a successful business strategy.
Use cloud and data analytics technology to support growth
Purchasing relevant software packages could help you access the data you need to understand where and when value is being created. Cloud and data analytics technology can provide a real-time flow of information, offering detailed measures across workflows, whilst also complementing existing reporting processes.
More long term, this technology can provide you with greater flexibility when anticipating future periods of growth.
For example, when the time comes to up-scale your business operations, it could help your finance function adapt more easily to any additional demands being placed upon it and mitigate the risk of disruption towards ongoing operations.
At the same time investing in this technology doesn’t have to happen overnight. Software packages can be purchased in stages and tailored to meet the specific needs of your business.
Create a business strategy which incorporates everything
Business success will often be determined by how effectively you can combine the value of ongoing operations into the development of a single, overarching business strategy. Understanding of the key strategic themes by employees is critical in aiding future business expansion plans and growth. This integration can support planning processes.
By taking a short, medium and long-term view on how value creation might change across the business, you will be in a much better place to identify upcoming risks and opportunities related to your growth ambitions.
The practical delivery of this might involve regular integrated reporting across your business’s operations. The more data that is involved in this process, the more helpful it will be towards informing your management decisions.
Allow work teams to use new technologies to innovate
Companies might also want to consider supporting work teams in certain areas to come up with new ideas to enhance plans for business growth and learn from possible failures, without the personal risks that entrepreneurship entails.
Allowing employees to use new technologies could help to reduce costs and offer new revenue opportunities as your business expands. It could also help to stimulate a high growth business and to fully communicate business’s value to potential clients and commercial partners.
Appreciate the importance of technology in attracting external finance
Investing in technology at an early stage can help attract external investors, as well as reducing the cost of raising growth finance. Such investors need to be able to understand the broader strategy of your business.
Lenders are increasingly using data to build up a broad perspective on the growth potential of SMEs. If you can provide real-time information – rather than just historical data – of your business’s performance, this could greatly increase the chances of obtaining the finance you need to grow.
However, there remains a gap and potential to co-create new approaches of raising capital amongst growing businesses and in creating agreed terms of sharing risks. This could bolster the advancement of entrepreneurial houses toward creating real economic equity in long term.
Save Your SME Money With A Good Payroll Management System
Not only does an efficient payroll system enhance staff morale and boosts your reputation, it can also save your business significant costs.
Payroll solutions are designed to help hone the strategic focus of your business’ HR department, by shifting HR and payroll managers’ from paperwork to developing and motivating employees.
“The biggest potential saving comes from full compliance with tax and labour laws and regulations,” says Ania Strydom, Compliance Specialist at Sage. “Avoiding the massive costs of fines, interest and penalties that a company risks if it doesn’t comply.”
Here are her tips for conducting payroll, saving money on a good system, and pitfalls to avoid that most SMEs don’t see coming:
Choosing a viable payroll management solution
- Look for a scalable product that can grow alongside the business
- Find a solution with full local support that is kept up to date with relevant labour and tax laws for the markets where the business operates
- Make sure the vendor has a proven track record and local reference sites
- Ensure that the solution is built on flexible modern technology that accommodates today’s trends — mobility and the cloud, for example
- Consider a solution with integrated employee self-service functionality.
Vital considerations when conducting payroll
- Ensure that the payroll department consists of people with a good knowledge of payroll and the required skills set to ensure success and compliance with payroll
- Instil a payroll environment that does not need regular review
- Conduct regular payroll compliance audits to ensure compliance minimises the risk of exposure.
How a good payroll management system actually save you money
- Using automated payroll software with employee self-service functions can help organisations save time as it diminishes the need for manual data capture, calculations, reporting or returns
- Rest easy knowing that automation reduces the possibility of human error, allowing businesses to focus on strategy, customers, and employee engagement rather than on red tape
- Payroll can help businesses understand how employees are contributing to profitability, what resources are needed, the cost for major projects, and identifying gaps or surpluses in their human capacity
- The risks of payroll fraud and incorrect payments are reduced by giving managers better visibility into transactions, providing an audit trail, and providing a set of controls, checks and balances
- The biggest potential saving comes from full compliance with tax and labour laws and regulations – avoiding the massive costs of fines, interest and penalties that a company risks if it doesn’t comply.
Avoid payroll errors SMEs typically make
- The use of manual solutions due to tight budgets. They should instead, look at affordable, cloud-based solutions that are priced per payslip per month instead
- Failing to enforce separation of duties. Different people should have responsibility for capturing payroll data and for managing access to the system as well as adding and removing employees from the payroll. Another person checking that the numbers add up could reduce risks of fraud and error
- Not keeping abreast of changes to tax and labour laws such as the Employment Tax Incentive.
Why Grit Is The True Determining Factor Of Success
How grit and determination helped Bertus Albertse take control of his destiny and build an award-winning franchise brand.
- Player:Bertus Albertse
- Company: Body20
- Contact:+27 (0)872310359
- Visit: body20.co.za
What does it take to open a successful business, franchise it, and then take it global? In many instances, the answer is grit, determination and the ability to get back up when life knocks you down.
In fact, Angela Lee Duckworth, an academic and psychologist based at the University of Pennsylvania, where she studies concepts such as self-control and grit to determine how they might predict academic and professional success, believes that the single biggest predictor of success isn’t social intelligence, good looks, physical health or even IQ.
The single biggest predictor of success is grit.
According to Duckworth, grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. It’s having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week or the month, but for
Years. It’s about working hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
To find the epitome of grit, we need look no further than Bertus Albertse, the founder and CEO of Body20 Global, a local franchise that is now making international waves.
As a youngster, Bertus was used to living in the unpredictable. His parents divorced when he was just nine months old and his mother, walking with both him and his sister on her hips, moved from house to house whenever his alcoholic grandfather took to the rod.
He realised early in his life that material things come and go as his mother had to return worn clothes and used toys not long after they have been purchased.
In fact, it happened so often that at some point even Bertus and his sister had to return items at retail stores at a young age in order to have money for food or petrol.
“To this day I’ve never forgotten where I come from and how retailers looked at me and my sister with pity and shame in their eyes,” he recalls.
Going the distance
Instead of letting the experience bow him down, Bertus learnt to be comfortable with the uncomfortable, taking control and responsibility over his own life. As an excelling young sportsman, he soon realised how he could control his own destiny by consistently putting in huge effort.
One of his favourite quotes is “You are what you repeatedly do, therefore excellence is not an act but rather a habit.”
It’s a mantra he lives by. Through pure grit and determination, he went from a small, skinny kid from the ‘platteland’ in the West Coast to be the first Head Boy of both the school and boy’s residents at the prestigious high school, Jan van Riebeeck, situated in the heart of Cape Town.
Stay hungry and make a real impact
Bertus also has numerous sports achievements, including national and international Body Building and Fitness titles. With his passionate and optimistic outlook on life, he soon realised that people are drawn to the ideas and things that inspire him and this has given him a flair for business, enabling him to share that passion with his community.
He started his first business in his second year of University in Stellenbosch with a R20 000 loan from his father, which he subsequently paid back three months later.
Today, Bertus is the founder and CEO of the award-winning global fitness franchise network, Body20. He strives to impact those around him by inspiring them to take control of their lives and encourages people to believe in the impossible, but to always remember to take consistent, daily actions to make it possible.
“A rabbit will always outrun the fox, because while the fox runs for its lunch the rabbit runs for its life.” He likes to be reminded of how hungry you have to be to truly make an impact in the world.
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