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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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Get The Edge This Winter

Five short courses from WITS kicking off in July will give you the competitive edge.

Wits Plus




From Gauteng’s most trusted provider of the best learning experiences, come five WITS-curated courses starting in July 2019. Use the longer, colder days to curl up with a “good book” and emerge from winter with a new edge.

There are three online short courses offered via the WITS Digital Campus, starting 15 July.

Managing Labour Relations

This 10 week course will equip you with sound knowledge of South Africa’s complex labour landscape and an understanding of your legal rights as an employee or employer.

You will also learn skills for navigating employer / employee relationships successfully, and get tools for managing disputes effectively. There are eight modules, covered in online lectures over eight weeks, requiring a commitment of five to seven hours per week. The exam is in week 10.

Logistics and Supply Chain Management Practice

This 10 week course is packed with practical and theoretical information to help retail managers, supply chain supervisors, stock controllers and even CEOs drive efficiencies in the value chain.

It covers everything from improving exporting transportation, warehousing, order processing and procurement to financial management and managing waste. There are eight modules, covered in online lectures over eight weeks, requiring a commitment of five to seven hours per week. The exam is in week 10.

Applied Digital Marketing

We operate in an increasingly digital world and traditional marketing must include digital aspects and channels to be relevant.

This 10 week course will teach you to think digital, talk digital and deliver effective digital campaigns to elevate marketing and brand-building initiatives. You will learn to conceptualise and implement successful digital marketing strategies that drive customer acquisition, optimise your digital footprint and deliver business results.

There are eight modules, covered in online lectures over eight weeks, requiring a commitment of five to seven hours per week. The exam is in week 10.

Related: Thinking of Immigrating to America from SA? Now Is The Time

Comprehensive onsite courses in July include:

Real Estate Investment Analysis

This intensive five day course is for people who have been introduced to the real estate discipline at NQF 4 and NQF 5 levels. It is designed to provide higher level, more focused training as well as tools for analysing different types of real estate investments at the individual asset level, and measuring investment performance.

The course will benefit property practitioners who do not have property degrees; past graduates of SAPOA programmes in different aspects of the real estate business and people from different disciplinary backgrounds considering entering the profession.  The course takes place over five days from 1 to 5 July 2019.

Advanced Performance Management

Presented by the School of Accountancy together with Wits Enterprise, this course is designed to prepare students for the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) Professional level exams.

On completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Use strategic planning and control models to plan and monitor organisational performance
  • Assess and identify key external influences on organisational performance
  • Apply strategic performance measurement techniques in evaluating and improving organisational performance
  • Advise on business performance evaluation as well as recognize vulnerability to corporate failure

The course will run from 15 July to 22 October 2019.

For more information on registering for any of these courses, criteria for registering, and costs, visit.

Related: The Importance of Outsourcing Your Payroll

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Accounting & Payroll

The Importance of Outsourcing Your Payroll

One of an organisation’s biggest overheads is that of salaries and wages. And yet, if these are not processed on time, it can negatively impact staff morale and create the impression that the company is not financially stable.

CRS HR And Payroll Solutions




For a small business, payroll is normally the responsibility of an accountant or bookkeeper, but even administrators can sometimes be roped in to do the job, even though they have no expertise in the matter. This is where the value of outsourcing your payroll comes in.

When should you outsource?

  • If you want to grow your business but are not aware of ongoing legislative changes that could pose a risk to your company, then it is better to get professionals to assist.
  • Accountants and bookkeepers are not specialists and do not keep up with the compliance environment. If you outsource your payroll, you enable them to focus their core duties and not get bogged down by legislative complexities.

How to choose an outsourced service provider

Understandably, payroll is a sensitive subject dealing with highly confidential information.

This is often the last thing a small business owner wants to outsource. It is therefore vital that the company does its homework and researches the potential outsourcing partner thoroughly.

Instead of going with the first available service provider or the cheapest one, here are some questions to ask:

  • Is the service provider a one-man band and, if so, what backup resources are available?
  • Is the service provider a recognised payroll provider belonging to a professional body?
  • Do they have the necessary training and skills on payroll?
  • What does the service provider do to ensure it stays up to date with legislation?
  • How secure is the payroll data and can the service provider take on historic data?
  • How easy is it to recover your payroll data in the event of a disaster?
  • What value-adds can the service provider offer? These can include anything from leave management and third-party payments, to employee self-service, time and attendance management, and any other related human resource service.
  • Can they process salaries and/or wages hourly, weekly, fortnightly, or monthly?
  • Can the service provider accommodate your growth requirements if you open new branches?
  • Is the service provider able to assist with payrolls in other African countries, manage their currencies, and deal with their regulatory environments?
  • What processes are in place to ensure the timeous processing of payrolls?

The advantages of outsourcing your payroll

One of the most obvious benefits of going the outsourcing route is freeing up your resources to focus on your core strategic objectives. This ensures you provide quality of service and control costs while an experienced partner takes care of your payroll.

Here are a few other benefits:

  • Reduce operating costs.
  • Statutory compliance and consistent service delivery.
  • Access to the latest technology, as well as skilled and dedicated payroll resources.
  • Access to a secure, risk-free and confidential payroll environment.
  • Increased flexibility and responsiveness.
  • Streamlined internal processes and procedures.

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Related: Thinking of Immigrating to America from SA? Now Is The Time

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Thinking of Immigrating to America from SA? Now Is The Time

More South Africans are looking to get their Green Cards with the EB-5 visa. Here’s why – and how you can use this opportunity too.




South Africans are surging towards the popular United States EB-5 Immigrant Investment Visa programme ahead of possible price increases that will likely place the EB-5 visa programme out of reach for many, other than for the uber-rich.

NES Financial, the leading EB-5 financial brokerage in the US, has estimated a 600% increase in EB-5 petition filings from South Africans this fiscal year from three years ago.

Increasing applications for the US Investor Visa

Bernard Wolfsdorf, a US EB-5 lawyer and former South African, has filed more South African cases in the past year than he has processed in the past ten years.

“I think it’s the fact that the investment amount could soon increase soon from $500 000 to $1,8 million that is driving many South Africans,” he says.

However, Wolfsdorf, Past President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, speculates that there are other factors, such as the stable US economy, excellent business environment, and outstanding educational opportunities that are enticing many South Africans to invest in the U.S.

“The currency swing has convinced many South Africans I speak to that foreign investment in the US makes sense,” he adds.

Assisting with understanding your US immigration options

The Tier 1 top ranked US immigration law firm, Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP has now set up a South African focused website and is regularly sending experienced lawyers to meet with South Africans and explain their immigration options.

“While on the one hand I am sad that many South Africans are choosing to leave, my hope is that, with global investment, many will continue to run and expand their South African companies and that the foreign investment will benefit South African trade and exports and create jobs locally,” says Wolfsdorf.

Other countries, such as China and Korea have many immigrants and they continue to drive trade with their ‘mother’ countries. “I expect to see many South African immigrants continue to develop trade and commerce with the US as this huge influx continues,” he says.

The Office of the United States Trade Representative confirms that US goods and services trade with South Africa totaled an estimated $18,9 billion in 2018. Exports were $8,4 billion; imports were $10,5 billion, creating a trade deficit with South Africa of $2,1 billion in 2018.

Some of the top imports from South Africa into the US include precious metal and stone; iron and steel; vehicles; and agricultural products like tree nuts and fresh fruit. However, the strong dollar greatly benefits trade and prices for many South African goods are high.

Why South Africans are immigrating to the US and not Australia

Other factors leading South Africans to choose the US is the fact that Australia and the United Kingdom have been less welcoming to immigrants recently, so while the US has been in third place as a choice, this is likely to soon change soon.

“In fact, Australia is becoming less and less friendly to immigrants on a personal level, with many Australians believing it’s time for its liberal immigration policies to end,” says Wolfsdorf.

“The country is implementing visa crackdown measures to limit work visas and ensure that foreign workers have the right skills and occupational licenses to conduct business. Additionally, with Brexit causing uncertainty, many South Africans have decided to look towards America for a Plan B.”

Joseph Barnett, a partner of the law firm who specializes in EB-5, is currently making his second trip to South Africa in the past six months.

“I really enjoy meeting with South Africans on my previous trip,” he says. “They are friendly, hospitable and hardworking. I’m sure this is the main reason most South Africans seem to do so well in the US.”

Why consider the EB-5 Visa

“The EB-5 Visa remains popular because there is no US employer sponsorship requirement, no education requirement, travel throughout the visa process is relatively simple, and because South Africans can choose to live wherever they desire once obtaining the green card,” the attorney adds.

“In short, the opportunity to live the American dream is open to anyone able to invest $500 000.”

South Africans should be aware that regulations first proposed in 2017 have now reached the final stage of the rulemaking process, review by the US Office of Management and Budget, before being finalized.  The time to act is now.

For more information on how you can begin your US EB-5 Immigrant Investment Visa process, visit

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