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Trading A Cup Of Coffee For A Day At School

Jaco De Witt, Founder of coffee shop Roast Republic, on how to stay relevant.

Standard Bank




Vital Stats

At first sight it’s hard to imagine that Jaco De Witt has been anything other than a barista. But, as they say, you can’t judge a book by its cover.

Wearing jeans, chequered shirt and standing at the counter of the Roast Republic coffee shop, he is obviously happy and totally at home in his surroundings. His welcoming smile and open personality speak of a person who is exactly where he wants to be, doing exactly what he wants with his life.

It is only when he begins to speak that you realise his passion for coffee is driven by something far deeper than just being a maker and purveyor of coffee. His conversation is peppered with phrases that soon make you realise that he is far from being your average young entrepreneur.

He talks about ‘capitalism with a conscience’ and the need for entrepreneurs to have an approach to business that speaks to social obligations as well as a contribution to the corporate ‘triple bottom line.’ It soon becomes obvious that he is also a man who literally ‘puts his money where he mouth is.’

Related: Female-Power Getting On With The Business Of Building The Nation

This entrepreneur, the founder of Roast Republic is both dedicated to the art of coffee making and making a difference by ensuring that 50% of gross profits made by the business are funnelled into educational development projects in South Africa.

“Social entrepreneurship is about challenging the way that people do business, challenging capitalism that is just about the bottom line. It is about challenging the way that you make a living. It is really about the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit, and making a sustainable difference in life and helping others.

“I believe that you can have a profitable business and a social conscience at the same time. You can make a difference by doing what you love and what you are good at,” says Jaco with a conviction that recalls his days as a pastor.

Entrepreneurs must know how to bounce back – watch the Roast Republic interview here.


Putting his passion for people and business into the same ‘basket’ began about five years ago when his interest in coffee led him to study the art of coffee roasting. His business persona saw the high profit margins available in coffee, his social conscience the chance to base the business on a ‘shared profit model.’ The concept of ‘social franchises ‘ was born and took root.

“The idea was that we should access enterprise development funding from large corporations that are legally obliged to funnel one percent of their profits into enterprise development and use the money to create opportunities for young, qualifying individuals to own a business. “

Related: What Tradesmen Should Consider Before Starting their Own SME

The vision has translated itself into three shops that operate as coffee shops and also market the various coffees roasted by the business. Located in office parks the businesses meet the growing need for office workers to have a steady supply of quality coffee close at hand during working hours.

The next step in the Roast Republic concept, the ‘coffee shop in a box’ was born from Jaco’s conviction that a coffee shop needed to be small, movable and able to get to coffee drinkers where they were, rather than have the customers come to a shop.

After toying with the idea for a while, Jaco brought together some friends in the shipping container industry and architects to help design a mobile coffee shop.

“It is a self-contained unit that is fully equipped. It just opens up and is ready for business. It is a plug and play solution that can be operational within 45 minutes of being placed on site. For an entrepreneur entering the franchise, the advantage is that a site for the business, which requires a minimal infrastructure, can be identified and the business can then be placed in situ ready to serve the public.

“Where the social franchise concept comes in is that we realised that people within the coffee industry were working in an enterprise where their upward mobility was restricted. Unless they received assistance, they would never be able to own a business,” says Jaco.

“We began looking at enterprise development and finding ways that we could help people working at Roast Republic become their own bosses.”

A partnership with Standard Bank has helped find a way forward. The coffee shop accelerator programme will involves the bank and Roast Republic in developing business training to help young entrepreneurs. Following this with hospitality industry and franchise training sees the emergence of people ready to compete in the coffee industry. The first intake of potential barista’s will kick off the programme later this year after all applications have been assessed.

The final component is access to corporate enterprise development funding to open the business. The keys to a Roast Republic franchise are then ready to be handed over.

Running a business that has social involvement as its key element requires being committed to openness. It is this quality that Jacob most values and advocates for people entering business.

“Having an open attitude means that you are always ready to expose yourself to different things and learn from anyone. There is so much to learn from so many people and so many ways to grow.

“My first mentor said; ‘In life always say yes’. Many times we have opportunities and we say ‘no’-mainly because the opportunities are difficult or look like long shots. Rather say ‘yes’ and follow the road to see where it leads.

“Being open means stumbling across things that you would otherwise not have experienced. Standing still means falling behind. It is up to you alone to decide whether you want to be relevant 10 or 20 years from now.”

Related: There’s No Better Time than Now to Start Innovating

Staying relevant is the mantra of Roast Republic. The way it sees itself being pertinent is through being an active agent for social change. To quote the Roast Republic website:

“Not only do we pride ourselves in sourcing & roasting the finest coffee beans on the planet, but we also have a huge passion for South Africa and her beautifully diverse people. We have a dream for our country, and that dream is a republic in which education is accessible for all.

Coffee is our currency, education our priority.

We trade a cup of coffee for a day at school.



Standard Bank SA is the largest operating entity of Standard Bank Group, Africa’s largest bank by assets. Standard Bank SA provides the full spectrum of financial services, with more than 720 branches and over 7 100 ATMs. Independent surveys of customer satisfaction consistently place Standard Bank at or near the top of their rankings. The personal and business banking unit offers banking and other financial services to individuals and small-to-medium enterprises. For further information, go to

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How To Immigrate With Your Family By Starting A Business In The UK

The simple way to make your entrepreneurial dreams come true in the UK.

Sable International



moving overseas

Many people, especially those with families, are reluctant to up sticks and move to the UK. These would-be movers are often worried that they will not be able to secure employment in the hugely competitive UK job market. This source of stress alone is enough to discourage some from pursuing their dreams of living in the UK. But, there is an innovative and accessible solution.

The UK has several visa classes aimed at individuals who wish to invest in the country. These give an individual the right to live and work in the UK with their families, if they make a defined investment. A visa that interests South Africans is the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa. We have developed our UK Tier 1 Entrepreneur Investment Programme to help South Africans looking to immigrate to the UK alone, or with their families.

The basics of the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa

To be awarded a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa, you will need to invest at least R3,5 million (£200,000) in an existing UK business or one you start up. There are certain other requirements, but these are not particularly onerous, and most investors will qualify if they submit their application correctly.

The entrepreneur visa allows you to live and work in the UK, and take dependant family members with you, defined as your partner and your child under 18. If you have the capital, or are willing to liquidate your assets in South Africa to raise it, the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa is a great way to relocate your entire family to the UK.

Do note: You will need to make specific applications for each dependant, so it is vital you consult with an immigration expert before beginning the application process.

You’re not just immigrating, you’re investing in the UK

By starting or investing in a UK business as part of our programme, you will be granted the right to live and work in the UK, and earn an income from that business.

Related: Want To Start An Import Business – Here Are The Importing Terms And Documents Involved

The business you invest in will want you to play an active role, not just contribute seed capital. If you want to invest in a business without being an active director you will be allowed to do so, but you may not be eligible for the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa.

Another restriction is that you cannot hold this visa and work for a business other than the one you are invested in. But, your partner will be allowed to work in whatever field he or she pleases.

How do you choose the right business to invest in?

There is always an element of risk when investing in a foreign business, particularly when you’re thirteen thousand kilometres away from the country you’re investing in. It’s important to understand exactly what you’re investing in before you take the plunge.

That’s why our UK Tier 1 Entrepreneur Investment Programme is hugely beneficial. It matches your investment capital with a pre-approved investee business. We’ll make sure that your skills are matched with an appropriate venture so you can be an active director of that business.

We’ll also handle your visa applications, providing you with a comprehensive immigration and investment solution. Our partner’s list of investee businesses is over 200 strong, giving you an array of choices in various industries. This allows us to pair you with the business that best suits your investment goals and skills.

But what if you have a successful business in South Africa?

It’s no secret — emigrating from South Africa is difficult for many families who have deep roots and thriving operations. There’s no reason why you can’t keep your business in South Africa as well as relocate to the UK.

Nothing restricts a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa holder from owning and overseeing businesses in other countries while they are on this visa. Many clients choose to relocate to the UK while ensuring that their original business continues to operate. In this way, you will be supplementing the income from your UK investment with revenue generated by your South African business.

You can hold British and South African passports if you apply for your British citizenship in the correct manner. You must obtain permission from Home Affairs in South Africa to avoid having your citizenship revoked. Retaining your South African citizenship will make it much easier for you to continue running a business here.

Talk to us today

There are compelling reasons to move to the UK — a brighter future for your children and a more stable country in which to retire. Our comprehensive solution will ensure you get the most out of your relocation.

Visit or send us a mail on 

If you’re thinking of immigrating to the UK or investing offshore — either or both — we can help.

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(Video) TomTom Telematics – Let’s Drive Business (UK)

TomTom Telematics



WEBFLEET provides you with the right information at the right time to make smart decisions and achieve your goals: Lowering cost, reducing time on the road, supporting drivers and delighting customers. Running a business can be hard. So let’s make it easier. Request a demo and find out more at

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Making The Case For FTTH With BDCOM

Successfully making the case for FTTH with BDCOM, Miro offers tangible solutions when deploying last-mile fibre connectivity through cost effective PON technology.






As a service provider, deploying a fibre network may seem daunting, expensive and unappealing; this stems from the capital expenditure required, as well as the added risk of the civil work needed during application. With the gaining popularity of fibre amongst various sectors; from service providers, to the end-users who demand high-speed internet, the demand for fibre is only gaining continuous traction; from the rising use of video-streaming platforms, to the ever-stable demand for reliable connectivity solutions, both for business and home use.

Given these facts, as well as the lingering hesitancy of expanding with fibre, the possibilities of this much desired optical connectivity can be realised through PON. Passive Optical Networks are currently transforming the face of last-mile fibre deployments. A world where sending data happens at the speed of light is now tangible at a tenth of the cost with PON. All the advantages which arise from optical fibre are now available in a cost-effective solution.

The demand for cost-effective, last-mile fibre solutions are also increasing due to the high bandwidth requirements of households and businesses; the large expenditure on active equipment and the on-going challenges of delivering high-capacity internet in densely populated areas are only some of the existing concerns. These, amongst other challenges faced by service providers, are accelerating the interest in deploying fibre optic networks to provide higher bandwidth delivery, reliability and lower latency levels.

The hesitancy of deploying fibre within a service offering stems from the myth that a fibre roll-out, especially in last-mile applications, can be a great expenditure in terms of infrastructure and operating costs. This myth can now be proven false with our FTTx solution from BDCOM.

The solutions available with PON (Passive Optical Networks) have been proven to reduce installation cost by up to 70% with the use of simple reflective devices, known as splitters.


Related: Embracing Technology For Business

PON, completely negates the need for active equipment (such as switches, boosters etc.) because it allows the light, to be reflected towards the intended receiver (ONU) which then talks back to the light source (OLT) which is situated by the POP (Point of Presence). PON take up less physical space and consume less energy than traditional Ethernet because of the reduced number of active equipment. PON deployment costs up to 50% less than Ethernet, this includes components, labour as well as materials. The requirements for cooling are also less than with Ethernet, offering the client a saving on their utility costs.

Furthermore, fibre optic cables have a lifespan of up to 50 years as opposed to the 15 year lifespan of Ethernet copper. By analysing these facts, PON technology is arguably the only cost-effective solution to a fibre roll-out because of the major decrease in deployment and maintenance cost; therefore, there is also no surprise as to why it has become increasingly embraced by hospitals, government agencies and universities, amongst other industries.

bdcom-miro-south-africa_smallFor more information on the best last-mile PON solution for your fibre application, please do not hesitate to contact our experienced sales team; introducing you to the possibility of FTTx, together.

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