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IPT: Mandy Venter

Dial-up to Success

Juliet Pitman

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Mandy Venter of IPT

Developing South Africa as a destination of choice for the international call centre industry is a priority of the South African Government. But as the industry grew and Government focused on developing skills through the Services Seta programmes, many long-established call centre employees were left out in the cold as their experience was not recognised. Mandy Venter, CEO of IPT, explains: “Originally, when the call centre industry started, there were no qualifications. Everyone qualified by experience. But in 2003, the Services Seta started rolling out their first programmes and new entrants came into the market and received a qualification through these programmes.

This created a lot of pressure in the system, whereby staff members who had been working for 10 years in the contact centre industry didn’t have a piece of paper to show for it.When they saw the opportunities new entrants were being given, they started asking, ‘What about us?’ They had qualified by experience and could do the work just as well as the people with the certificates.” It was in this gap that Venter identified a business opportunity. She set about developing recognition of prior learning tools that could be used to assess the competence of contact centre employees in order to give them a certificate. Today IPT is the official certification partner for the contact centre industry. Venter explains the company’s role in this regard: “We test a person’s competence against a qualification without regard for where they got the skill. If they can prove they are competent against the qualification, they can get the same certificate as their colleagues. It gives people credit for what they already have.” Not only does this benefit the individuals who receive the qualification, it also benefits the entire contact centre industry in South Africa. Venter explains: “The qualification is internationally recognised. The cost of telecommunications and skills are the two things that international investors find problematic when deciding whether to set up contact centres in South Africa. We can now staff their call centres with people who have an internationally recognised qualification, which really advances South Africa’s position in the industry.”

One of Venter’s biggest challenges was overcoming people’s lack of understanding about the Seta system and the nature of the funding vehicle. “It means interpreting a lot of legislation and our biggest barrier to entry was getting clients to understand the system,” she says. The beauty of the programme, adds Venter, is that companies get grants for existing employees who are services levy payers. It is these grants that fund the training. “We can give company employees a qualification that companies don’t need to pay for and they are entitled to a R50 000 tax benefit as a reduction,” she explains. IPT’s fees are paid for out of the Seta’s grants. Unpacking the legislation in an easy-to-understand format was the key to securing clients. Part of the company’s client attraction strategy was to target companies that IPT knew were services levy payers who could benefit from the programme. “Once the penny dropped, it was hard for them to resist putting not 100 but 1 000 people on the programme!” recalls Venter. IPT now lists the Dialogue Group, Calling the Cape, Kelly, Phone House, Direct Axis, Emmanuels, Coega and Digital Solutions, among many others, as clients. Venter concludes by pointing out the enormous growth potential that exists for SMEs in all industries who use Setas to their benefit. “SMEs are usually the ones who have the least money to spend on training, but by becoming levy payers, they can benefit in the way their clients do by having their staff certified,” she says. In an economic climate where skills open doors, she makes a good point. Contact: +27 11 234 9971, www.ipt.org.za

Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.

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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.

CEOwise

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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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