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MKBIH: Juliette Du Preez

An investment company that funds the development of women entrepreneurs

Monique Verduyn

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Juliette du Preez of Milani Ka Banzi

Affordable finance solutions for women entrepreneurs are hard to come by in South Africa. It was with this in mind that financial services expert Juliette du Preez and partners Jenny Tyobeka and Dudu Thabede established Milani Ka-Banzi Investment Holdings (MKBIH).

Milani Ka-Banzi means “to grow broadly” and the three partners, each of whom is a successful businesswoman in her own right, are committed to helping develop women-owned businesses.

Having spent many years in the financial services industry, Du Preez says she found herself questioning whether she wanted to remain in banking for the rest of her life. It’s almost inevitable that you reach that point in the corporate world, she says.

“I wanted to get something more out of life than a wristwatch and a pension. I also had to prove that I could make it outside a safe environment that has lots of structures and mechanisms in place. Because transformation has always been close to my heart, I wanted to make a meaningful contribution to the development of young women entrepreneurs while also carving out a new career for myself.”

Du Preez’ expertise lies in credit and risk management, as well as the customer interface in retail banking. Tyobeka too has a strong background in financial services and corporate governance, while Thabede is a marketing and advertising professional.

They have set themselves the goal of becoming the benchmark for BEE women-owned investment companies by investing in sectors that are positioned for accelerated and profitable growth, such as mining, tourism, information technology, commercial property and retail.

“We seek out strategic investments and buy shareholdings in those companies,” says Du Preez. “We take on the role of an active strategic partner, not a passive investor. We want to share our business insights, experience and knowledge.

By having input at board level into the strategy of the companies we invest in, we ensure that our investment is protected and that we have input into the transformation of the company.” Du Preez says MKBIH is an iterative organisation.

“As our investments grow, the dividends flow into the MKBIH Foundation, enabling us to invest in businesses owned by women. We protect those investments by coaching and mentoring the people we work with, and sharing management and financial skills with them. This is a vital component of what we do because empowerment is about giving people the skills to grow and develop themselves.” Asked how she got MKBIH off the ground, Du Preez points out that she made sure she had a safety net in place when she quit her job at the bank. “It’s amazing what you can do when you don’t have debt,” she adds.

But she concedes that financing the business was no easy task. “It helped that we had banking experience as there were relationships in place and we knew what the banks would look for in a proposal. We put our own resources in too, particularly into the structuring of the business, and into branding and marketing.

We have always known that investing is a long-term, arduous process so we have never expected quick wins.” MKBIH views women as fundamental to nation building, and the directors believe that entrepreneurs are the key drivers of real empowerment in the country.

The foundation invests in city-based women business owners who have completed secondary school. “A basic education is important because there has to be something on which we can build to make the business workable.” “We are currently working with a major institution that is keen to fund an umbrella programme for entrepreneurial skills development,” says Du Preez.

“It’s about bringing together partners who share our belief that when people are working, they enable the growth of the economy.” Du Preez cautions that MKBIH is not taking on the world; rather it is identifying niches where it has the ability to make a difference. “We invest where we can apply our skills,” she says.

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.

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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