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Sceptre Marketing: Wanda Shuenyane

Founder of a unique marketing group proves that an investor can also be a true entrepreneur.

Juliet Pitman

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Wanda Shuenyane of Sceptre Marketing

When asked for a definition of an entrepreneur many people will describe someone who sees an opportunity, has a good idea and builds a successful company from scratch using vision and energy. But while the description certainly matches the traditional view of entrepreneurship, there’s a case to be made for another kind of entrepreneur – one who sees an opportunity to build greatness in an existing company, and applies similar vision and energy to achieve success.

Wanda Shuenyane, founder of Sceptre Marketing, is such an individual. Sceptre owns significant or controlling stakes in high performance below-the-line marketing companies that operate independently, but that possess synergies that allow them to collaborate if a particular project calls for it.

Doing it differently

What’s so entrepreneurial about buying into companies, you might ask. After all, the current climate of black economic empowerment has created an environment where many people own different stakes in entrepreneurial companies and can hardly be called entrepreneurs themselves. And you’d be making a good point – except for the fact that Shuenyane and his team do far more than simply purchase equity.

“One thing we are categorically not about is passive investment,” he says. “We invest in companies we are inspired by and which we believe will be able to grow as a result of our involvement. We play an active, hands-on role in the running of the company and we’re only interested in buying into organisations that want an active investment partner,” he adds. A number of Sceptre’s investments have been reported in the media as ‘BEE deals’ but while he’s realistic about the fact that the company offers BEE credentials to the organisations in which it invests, Shuenyane is quick to make the point that his business model is not an empowerment one. “We add real strategic value to the businesses we buy into,” he says.

Proving the point

For proof of that he points to perhaps the most publicised Sceptre deal – the 2005 acquisition of 46,16% of experiential business-to-business communications agency, VWV Group. Following the deal, Shuenyane took up the reins as CEO for two-and-a-half years, before handing over to one of his partners in Sceptre Marketing, Abey Mokgwatsane, who held the position of VWV group marketing and sales director prior to that. Jameson Hlongwane is the third Sceptre partner and plays an equally hands-on role.

“The profit of the company has grown eight-fold since we’ve been involved,” Shuenyane says. It’s clear that doors have opened for the company. VWV also landed the contract, together with consortium partner Lebo M, to do the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, having jointly organised the ceremonies for the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2009. It has twice staged the MTV Africa Music Awards and boasts a long list of projects for impressive blue chip brands. Shuenyane also points to Sceptre’s involvement at the HR level, which he believes has been key to VWV’s ongoing success. “We implemented a full performance management programme, ensuring people were aware of our strategy for the business and making them accountable for the role they all needed to play,” he says. This meant ‘mean managing’ some non-performers out – around 60% of the original workforce now does eight times the profit – but it also meant that those who remained shared in a rewards-linked bonus pool equivalent to a significant portion of their annual salary.

Branching out

Sceptre has employed a similar hands-on model in the other companies in which it has invested. Among them are Ministry of Illusion, Westcom, Berge Farrell Africa (BFA), Asiboni Mbala, Show Stoppers and Forwardzone
Media. “All the companies in the Sceptre Marketing group are independent, but they have certain synergies and it often makes sense for them to work together on projects.

“The fact that they can leverage each others’ contacts is just another value-add,” says Shuenyane. Financing these investments has not been easy. “The thing about the marketing sector is that it’s all based on intellectual capital, so you can’t go to a bank and show them all the ‘assets’ of the company in which you want to invest,” he says. His solution? “You need to get creative. Look at joint venture deals, investigate vendor financing. If company shareholders really believe in the value you are going to add, they might be willing to stand surety for the loan. There are ways of getting the finance you need,” he says.

Sharing the lessons

He also believes the business plan is key. To other entrepreneurs he offers this advice: “Get hold of someone who has worked, or works in the SME financing division of a bank and take them your business plan and finance proposal. Ask their advice, get them to point out the holes and then ask them what you need to do to fix them.”

Shuenyane is big on asking advice. “So many entrepreneurs believe that the challenges they face are unique and they’re too afraid to expose the fact that they’re not on top of everything in their business. This is simply not true and I learned that for the first time when I joined EO South Africa. Having access to the ears and minds of entrepreneurs who have all been where I have has been hugely instrumental in helping me grow as a businessperson,” he adds.

Sceptre Marketing
Player: Wanda Shuenyane
Est. 2005
Contact +27 11 442 2780, www.sceptre.co.za

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27 Of The Richest People In South Africa

Here are 27 of South Africa’s richest people, but how did they achieve this level of wealth? Find out here.

Nicole Crampton

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Learn the secrets of SA’s most successful business people, here is the list of the 27 richest people in South Africa:

In a world with growing entrepreneurship success stories, victory is often measured in terms of money. The feat of achieving a place on this list is, however, years of hard work, determination and persistence. “One has to set high standards… I can never be happy with mediocre performance,” advises Patrice Motsepe.

From the individuals that made the 27 of the richest people in South Africa list, actual entrepreneurs and self-made business people dominate the list; while those who inherited their fortunes have gone on to do even bigger and better things with their wealth. Over the years, some have slipped off the list, while others continue to climb higher and higher each year.

  1. Elisabeth Bradley
  2. Sharon Wapnick
  3. Bridgette Radebe
  4. Irene Charnley
  5. Wendy Ackerman
  6. Paul Harris
  7. Wendy Appelbaum
  8. Mark Shuttleworth
  9. Desmond Sacco
  10. Giovanni Ravazzotti
  11. Markus Jooste
  12. Gus Attridge
  13. Gerrit Thomas Ferreira
  14. Cyril Ramaphosa
  15. Adrian Gore
  16. Raymond Ackerman
  17. Michiel Le Roux
  18. Lauritz Dippenaar
  19. Jannie Mouton
  20. Stephen Saad
  21. Patrice Motsepe
  22. Allan Gray
  23. Koos Bekker
  24. Ivan Glasenberg
  25. Christoffel Wiese
  26. Johann Rupert
  27. Nicky Oppenheimer
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Watch List: 50 Top SA Black Entrepreneurs To Watch

South Africa needs more entrepreneurs to build businesses that can make a positive impact on the economy. These up-and-coming black entrepreneurs are showing how it can be done.

Nicole Crampton

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Early-stage South African entrepreneurial activity is at an all-time high of 11%, according to Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, and entrepreneurial intentions have also increased to 11.7%. With both activity and intentions growing significantly year-on-year, there are more businesses opening up around South Africa than ever before.

The increase in entrepreneurship has seen the rise of more black entrepreneurs across numerous sectors. From beauty brands to legal services and even tech start-ups, these are 50 top black entrepreneurs to watch:

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Watch List: 50 Top SA Small Businesses To Watch

Keep your finger on the pulse of the start-up space by using our comprehensive list of SA small business to watch.

Nicole Crampton

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Entrepreneurship in South Africa is at an all-time high. According to Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), total early-stage entrepreneurial activity has increased by 4.1% to 11% in 2017/2018. This means numerous new, exciting and promising small businesses are launching and growing.

To ensure you know who the innovative trailblazers are in the start-up and small business space, here are 50 of South Africa’s top establishing companies to watch, in no particular order:

  1. Livestock Wealth
  2. The Lazy Makoti
  3. Aerobuddies
  4. Mimi Women
  5. i-Pay
  6. AfriTorch Digital
  7. Akili Labs
  8. Native Décor
  9. Aerobotics
  10. Quality Solutions
  11. EM Guidance
  12. Kahvé Road
  13. HSE Matters
  14. VA Virtual Assistant
  15. Famram Solutions and Famram Foundation
  16. BioTech Africa
  17. Brand LAIKI
  18. Plus Fab
  19. LifeQ
  20. Organico
  21. 10dot
  22. Lenoma Legal
  23. Nkukhu-Box
  24. Benji + Moon
  25. Beonics
  26. Brett Naicker Wines
  27. Khalala
  28. Legal Legends
  29. The Power Woman Project
  30. Aviro Health
  31. AnaStellar Brands
  32. Data Innovator
  33. Fo-Sho
  34. Oolala Collection Club
  35. Recomed
  36. VoiceMap
  37. ClockWork
  38. Empty Trips
  39. Vula Mobile
  40. SwiitchBeauty
  41. Pineapple
  42. The Katy Valentine Collection
  43. OfferZen
  44. KHULA
  45. Incitech
  46. Pimp my Book
  47. ART Technologies and ART Call Management
  48. Prosperiprop
  49. WAXIT
  50. The Sun Exchange
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