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Kit Kat Group: Ahmed Gani

A Family-Owned Business Makes Its Influence Felt With Business Suss And Strict Systems

Juliet Pitman

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Ahmed Gani of Kit Kat Group

From his glass-fronted office at the exit of the Pretoria-based Kit Kat Cash & Carry store, Ahmed Gani, MD of Kit Kat Group, waves to customers and suppliers as they leave. “I want to see that nobody looks unhappy as they walk out. I want them to see me so that at least our eyes can meet and we can greet each other,” he explains. It’s a hands-on approach that has come to epitomise what this up-and-coming business is about.

Started as a corner café by Gani’s grandfather and great uncle in 1953, Kit Kat Group has grown to incorporate the Cash & Carry outlet, three retail outlets and, this year, the first of many franchise outlets. Gani describes the opening of the 20 000 m2-plus Cash & Carry outlet as a “humungous” step for the family. “Being a privately owned business, money comes in limited amounts, but we’ve always run a very tight ship with low overheads, good stock turns and quick turnovers.

“And that enabled us to build up a reasonable amount of capital in our family so that the business has always carried itself,” he says of how the growth has been funded. In spite of its growth and success, Kit Kat has managed to retain all the benefits of being family-owned. “The pros far outweigh the cons of being a family business,” says Gani, explaining that independence and the lack of corporate ‘red tape’ gives the company the flexibility to react quickly to market demands in order to stay a step ahead of its competitors.

However, the pitfalls of family-owned businesses are well-documented. All too often, they are too democratically run and lack a ‘buck-stops-here’ boss. As they grow, family members, long-used to signing off on everything, battle to relinquish control of operations, stifling future success potential. Or a wayward son or grandson with a big ego and a small business brain ruins what it took his fore fathers years to build.

The Gani family has managed to avoid such pitfalls by implementing strict systems that ensure that the way the business is run won’t fluctuate too drastically depending on who sits in the boss’s chair. “The boss is the system,” says Gani, explaining that the family has devised a proven set of systems over time to which family members, management and staff alike are expected to adhere.

On the question of delegating tasks and decisions to empowered managers, he says simply, “If you can’t share, you can’t grow.” All family members, from Gani as MD to his brother and cousin who occupy positions as financial and merchandise directors, have done their time on the shop floor.

“The advice I would give to any family-run business is that you can’t take a family member and put them at the helm of the business if they don’t understand what it is about and haven’t been through every category of the business.” Apart from internal operational challenges, Kit Kat is up against it when it comes to the size and sheer clout of their competitors. But, as Gani explains, their hands-on approach has stood them in good stead here as well: “Customers see the value of dealing with hands-on type operators. If you are not satisfied you can meet the MD of the company in a minute and we can immediately try to rectify things so that you leave here as a happy client,” he explains.

The same applies to suppliers, and Gani lists integrity and supplier relationships as key factors in the company’s success: “A lot of suppliers feel cornered by the large chain groups so they look for outlets of our type to leverage themselves and get into the market without being dictated to too much.

We build up good relationships with suppliers over time.” That’s not to say that healthy negotiations with suppliers don’t form a solid base to the business and, as Gani points out: “In order to sell competitively you’ve got to buy competitively so when we sit across a table and do a deal, we fight to get the best possible price, structures and payment terms but once we shake on it, we honour it.

If I tell a supplier he will be paid on the 15th of the month, on the 14th he’s got his money.” It’s obvious that in spite of being small by comparison, Kit Kat is making an impact in the market. In the past year, two different chain groups have attempted to buy the business out, but Gani is having none of it.

With big plans for the future, he wants to keep the business independent. The opening of at least four new Cash & Carry outlets in Gauteng, and 25 franchises over the next two to three years, are just some of the plans in the pipeline. His answer to buy-out offers were, “No thank you. We are not for sale. But look out for us within the next five years – I might be coming to buy you out.” They may prove to be prophetic words. Contact: 0861 548 528, www.kitkatgroup.com

Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.

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

Live free of the opinion of other, but always in service, is one of the key principles Pat Pillai lives by.

CEOwise

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Pat Pillai, is a social entrepreneur who after being a national news anchor for 15 years, is founder and CEO of LifeCo UnLtd SA, which invests in impact entrepreneurs and impact enterprises. LifeCo UnLtd SA has benefited over 112 000 beneficiaries in SA (5000 are young entrepreneurs; 124 are established adult entrepreneurs, of those 76 are impact/social entrepreneurs).

Related: Mike Sharman Talks About Retroviral’s Successful Campaigns And The Importance Of Social Media In Marketing

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