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SDT Financial Software Solutions: Freda Du Toit

A local software company is helping to revolutionise the insurance industry.

Monique Verduyn

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Freda du Toit of SDT

Witnessing the growth and development of the women she has worked with has been a highlight of Freda du Toit’s career.The co-founder and executive director of Pretoria-based SDT Financial Software Solutions has an in-depth knowledge of the financial services industry, based on 18 years’ experience. She has put her expertise to work by becoming a mentor in the Women in IT project.

Du Toit believes that mentoring relationships are about personal development and growth, and that South African companies would be well advised to promote women-mentoring programmes to enable the country to achieve the sought after critical mass of women in top positions.

“Women from previously disadvantaged communities seldom have people they can turn to for business advice,” Du Toit says. “The business community therefore has a vital role to play in helping women with potential to grow and to create a long-term career view for them.”

It’s her belief that she can make a difference that spurred her on to create SDT back in 1995, with business partner Jaco Swanepoel. Her background was in maths, accounting and IT, while Swanepoel had experience as an actuary. “We were both working at Momentum at the time,” she recalls.

“What drove us to launch SDT was the persistent feeling that while big companies know what they should be doing, operational pressures often force them to do other things instead. We identified a gap in the market for a company that could combine its industry knowledge with software engineering capability to build solutions that address the changing requirements of financial services providers. Our goal was to bridge the gap between business needs and IT.”

Momentum became SDT’s first client, along with several other business and IT consulting jobs, but the company’s big break came when it was approached by a life assurance group in Namibia to develop an administration system.

“That basically funded the development of the first version of our software,” Du Toit notes. In 2006 SDT was acquired by a consortium as part of a reverse listing onto the JSE Securities Exchange. The R50 million listing enabled a black economic empowerment transaction, Silver Bridge Holdings, which is listed on the AltX and headed up by Swanepoel.

In terms of the deal, Kagiso Trust Investments acquired 20% of Silverbridge and SDT became the first company in the Silver Bridge Group.“The deal was driven by our desire to find a BEE partner and it was facilitated by our venture capital partner,” Du Toit says.

“It has given the group as a whole, the ability to service a broader range of players in the financial services industry.” Silver Bridge focuses on providing business application software solutions in a number of industry verticals. The group aims to expand through the acquisition of niche business application software providers.

“This is in line with our vision to make a difference to business through technology,” Du Toit says. SDT’s African customers include companies in Namibia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Kenya, Swaziland, Lesotho, Ghana, Nigeria and Mauritius. At home, clients include Metropolitan, Regent Insurance, Hollard,and Sanlam, and others in the micro-insurance market. More recently, the company has aligned itself with the development of an enterprise architecture blueprint for the insurance industry.

“The insurance sector needs to redefine and reinvent itself to become more efficient,” says Du Toit. “High costs in the industry are largely due to ageing, poorly defined processes, which in turn are fulfilled by applications running on costly mainframes.

Our approach removes the duplications, bottlenecks and redundancies that characterise IT in this sector. By aligning ourselves with the principles of enterprise architecture, we are helping to streamline the entire industry.” Du Toit maintains that SDT’s focus on getting business architecture into the public domain continues to differentiate the company from its competitors.“Continuous learning is vital, and companies that keep pace with where the industry is going are able to contribute to its growth in a positive and lucrative way.” Contact: +27 12 360 0100; www.sdt.co.za

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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