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Ntsikelelo Management and Accounting Services: Sibongile Mahlangu

An entrepreneur makes a difference by mentoring and training small businesses.

Juliet Pitman

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Sibongile Mahlangu of Ntsikelelo Management and Accounting Services

It was while doing her articles in accounting that Sibongile Mahlangu first realised just what small businesses in South Africa were up against. “The more I looked at it, the more I realised that SMMEs needed so much help in terms of training, accessing finance and setting up systems that would help their businesses become successful. There was such a huge gap,” says the Cape Town-based founder of Ntsikelelo Management and Accounting Services. Today, she fills that gap. Ntsikelelo is dedicated to the mentorship and training of start-ups. However, realising that most small businesses simply cannot afford the kind of training and mentorship they require, Mahlangu has adopted an innovative business model that sees Ntsikelelo contracting its services to organisations and programmes involved in the mentorship of SMMEs. Among them are the UCT Graduate School of Business’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE), SABMiller’s Kick-Start initiative and Taverner Training Programme, Umsobomvu Youth Fund, the City of Cape Town, Swiss Contact and the Cape Agency for Sustainable Integrated Development in Rural Areas.

Through these and other institutions, Mahlangu and her team of consultants have been instrumental in helping hundreds of entrepreneurs to attain success. But while she might have helped others to grow, she’s the first to point out the importance of her own growth and development as a successful mentor. “I was under no illusions when I started that there were areas in my business and expertise that required improvement and that before I could claim to be an authority on business success, I would have to work on these areas first,” she says.She lists formal business writing and business communication and language skills among the areas where she focused her self-improvement. “They are just two small things and they might seem insignificant, but the fact is that if you want to be taken seriously in business and be seen as a professional, you need to communicate in the appropriate way,” says Mahlangu.

Over time, her exposure to the SMB sector has honed her ability to identify and address the most common problems in small business management. One of the key things that’s emerged in her extensive mentoring experience is that a lack of financial suss presents a serious challenge to the success of countless businesses. “While working with CIE I had the opportunity to work in the debt collection division and I can tell you it was a real learning curve. Small businesses not only find it difficult to access finance, but when they do get a loan, they frequently lack the financial skills and discipline to be able to ensure that their business can service that loan and eventually pay it back.”Realising that getting the money to run a business is only half the battle won, Ntsikelelo takes a whole-business approach to mentorship. “We identify those areas where interventions are required and then we help to set up the systems and provide training on how to run them. But where I believe we add the most value is through our hand-holding over a six-month period where we make sure that the business owner not only understands but has become fully proficient in implementing the systems on a daily basis,” Mahlangu explains.

It’s this one-on-one contact and assistance that she finds the most rewarding and she has many stories to tell about how small ideas have been turned into big business through dedication and commitment. She relates one of her favourite cases: “A business owner with whom I made contact through SABMiller’s Taverner Training Programme was working full-time and running a liquor sales business on the side. Although he wanted to follow his small business dream full-time, he was afraid of resigning from his job and then failing as an entrepreneur. It’s a common hurdle for many people. We sat down together and I helped him do costings and projections, taking into consideration what he was earning at his current job, how much the liquor business was generating and how much the business could make if he gave it his full attention. This kind of process is really helpful in making a dream concrete and tangible, and in the end he went for it. Today, his business turns over R120 000 a week.” As Mahlangu concludes, she needs no other measure for her own success.

Contact: +27 82 773 5749 and +27 21 949 5281; www.nmas.co.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.

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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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