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Britespark: Angela Makholwa

In Johannesburg you could be forgiven for thinking that PR companies are two a penny. What distinguishes Britespark, the consultancy launched by Angela Makholwa in 2002, is the energy of its founder, the range of services on offer and the company’s focus on attention to detail and professionalism.

Monique Verduyn

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Angela Makholwa of Britespark

Makholwa graduated from Rhodes Universitywith a degree in journalism. After working as a journalist for a while, shejoined a PR company and also completed a part-time diploma in PR. When she wascontracted to manage product placement and sponsorships for the first BigBrother series on M-Net in 2001, Makholwa took the opportunity to learn allabout sponsorships and publicity.

Shortly after that, in October 2002, shelaunched Britespark from her home. With her savings, and a loan from herparents, she bought a PC and a fax machine, and hired an intern. She also tooka huge risk. Makholwa had befriended the person in charge of the Kora Awards atthe time, and he convinced her that she should buy the rights to host andorganise the South African leg of the Miss Malaika beauty contest, aninternational pageant for women of African origin. “I took a chance and boughtthe rights for R20 000,” Makholwa recalls. “It was a huge risk for someone whohad just started a business with her own money, but it paid off.” With herexperience in sponsorship, Makholwa put together a proposal and went knockingon a number of doors, eventually landing up at the offices of the NelsonMandela Bay Municipality in Port Elizabeth.“The pageant was just the kind of event themunicipality was looking for,” she says. “It was the right type of event for amunicipality that wanted to raise its profile, generate publicity and host anevent that would entertain its citizens.” She was awarded a contract for R1million, a win that she says catapulted the company to where it is today, withsix employees, offices in Midrand, and an impressive array of public andprivate sector clients.

“Because there are so many PR consultanciesout there, the biggest challenge has been to differentiate Britespark fromdozens of competitors,” Makholwa says. “Establishing the company and growingyour credibility is not easy, and there are no simple solutions for doing this.It requires a huge amount of hard work and demonstrating to your clients thatyou are able to deliver on your promises. A particular challenge in the PRindustry is convincing your clients that PR is about far more than glam.”Makholwa notes that all PR companies havetheir own way of doing things, and that she has structured Britespark in a waythat leverages staff skills and has enabled the company to service client needsin the most optimal way. “Our account executives report to the account managerswho, in turn, report to me. The account managers are the client interface andthey are responsible for coming up with strategies to support the clients’needs. This structure enables clients to get the most out of our agency.” Makholwa says she has grown her business onreferrals from happy clients. Where she once employed PR interns to assist her,she now has a team of five professionals who are skilled in financial, FMCG andgovernment communications, as well as investor relations and event management.

“I have surrounded myself with highlyskilled senior people who are able to consult with our clients at the moststrategic level. Our level of professionalism has enabled us to retain and growclients, always a major challenge for PR agencies.”Makholwa stresses that people are key to aPR business. “You can win a huge account and lose it within three months if youdo not have good writers and events people, and if your account managementcapabilities are not up to scratch.”She notes that when she started thecompany, she was responsible for everything. But she learnt early on that ifyou want to grow a business and distinguish yourself from the many who operatefrom a cottage at home, you need to have staff. “You must employ people who cankeep the business running while you are engaging with clients and bedding downnew contracts.”

Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.

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25 Of The Most Successful Business Ideas In South Africa

Find out who’s making waves in numerous industries and how they managed to differentiate themselves in local and international industries.

Nicole Crampton

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“Disruption is all about risk-taking, trusting your intuition, and rejecting the way things are supposed to be. Disruption goes way beyond advertising, it forces you to think about where you want your brand to go and how to get there,” says Richard Branson.

South Africa has its fair share of innovative and disruptive businesses taking both local and international industries by storm. From cutting edge space technology to reimagined logistics, and innovative business models, here are 25 of the most successful business ideas in South Africa:

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Colin Timmis Says ‘Position Yourself For Success By Starting With The Numbers’

People pay first who they feel pressure from, so people will pay you when they feel pressure from you.

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Entrepreneur Colin Timmis founded South Africa’s first cloud accounting practice in 2011, Real Time Accounting. Then, a few years after being appointed as South Africa’s first Xero partner Colin became Xero Country Manager South Africa. Xero is the emerging global leader of online accounting software that connects small businesses to their advisors and other services.

Related: Pat Pillai On How He’s Helped Over 5000 Entrepreneurs Using 3 Key Steps

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Two 20 Year Olds Reshape Entrepreneur Landscape With New Social Investment Platform

The Merge vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

Merge Connect

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It’s no secret that finding the right investor for your venture is a challenge that most entrepreneurs face. The current process of finding investment is one that is outdated, and limits entrepreneurs due to a lack of time, and network that is needed to find the right investor. But, this doesn’t have to be the case in today’s digital society, says Zander Matthee and Brandon Bate, co-founders of Merge.

“By making the Internet the middleman, we are able to connect with each other much simpler and faster than before” was Zander’s response. “We have taken advantage of this, and have created a digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors” added Brandon.

Merge is a social platform that connects entrepreneurs and investors. It aims to simplify, refine and accelerate the process of finding investment for entrepreneurs, and the process of finding investment opportunities for investors. From idea to developed, the platform allows entrepreneurs to present a brief outline of their venture to a network of all investor types. While doing this, entrepreneurs are able to browse through, and connect with investor profiles that suit their requirements.

Related: 8 Codes Of Success That Helped Priven Reddy of Kagiso Interactive Media Achieve A Networth Of Over R4 Billion

From Private Investors to Venture Capital, and everything in between, Merge allows all investor types to join. Investors have the opportunity to personalise their feed to suit their investment preferences, and will be able to connect with innovative businesses – that are looking for investment – at their fingertips. Only once there is a mutual interest in each other, are users able to enter a secure private chat where they can discuss further and share documents under the protection of a digital NDA.

The two boys became good friends during their time in high school at St Stithians Boys College. However, it was only in their last year, 2016, that they decided to pursue their dreams and create the platform. They didn’t know how to code, so rather ironically, they needed some form of investment to get the platform off the ground.

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“We knew we had a mountain to climb, but we believed in our vision and that we were really trying to make a difference, and if we could get others to see that, they would be onboard.” said Zander.

Related: Lessons From The Rich And Famous: Manage Your Money Like Oprah To Avoid Going Into Debt Like Nicholas Cage

Chris Peters is one of these individuals that bought into their vision, and became Merge’s first investor. As a successful entrepreneur and part time investor , Chris saw how much value the platform could bring to all entrepreneurs and investors alike. His marketing and strategic background gave him insight into how Merge could play a vital role in a lucrative space, Brand involvement.

“Entrepreneurship and SME development are two key factors that drive economic growth in developing countries like South Africa. That is why brands are currently getting involved, and looking to support entrepreneurs through various means. We have built a platform that allows these brands to successfully market, and execute on the programmes they have created to assist entrepreneurs.” said Chris

Merge was created to assist all entrepreneurs and investors in finding exactly what they are looking for, regardless of age, race, sex, financial position or social status. That is why anybody can sign-up as an entrepreneur. As long as you are determined and willing to work for your dreams. For too long has the investor space been seen as an “elite club for the select few”, and Merge is here to change that. Whether you’ve gotten your bonus at the end of the year and looking for new investment opportunities, or are an active investor, you can sign-up. Whether you’re currently working, or a retired industry leader, you can join as a mentor.

Their vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

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