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TSiBA: Leigh Meinert

Cape University employs a multi-faceted funding approach to offer free education to aspirant entrepreneurs.

Juliet Pitman

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Leigh Meinert of TSIBA

Leigh Meinert is passionate about entrepreneurship. So much so that the university she runs offers free foundation courses and a business degree that focus on entrepreneurship. “We think of ourselves as the ‘pay it forward’ university,” says Meinert, who started the Tertiary Institution for Business Administration (TSiBA) in 2005. Inspired by the free education model of Cida City Campus where she previously worked, Meinert and her co-founders secured seed funding of R1,6 million from the Shuttleworth Foundation to start TSiBA. “Our vision was to offer full tuition scholarships for bachelor of business administration degrees that place a strong focus on entrepreneurship,” she says.

Getting hands-on

TSiBA, which appropriately also means “jump” in Xhosa, offers a unique Foundation Year Certificate in Business Administration, followed by an enriched Bachelor in Business Administration programme focused on entrepreneurial leadership. While there are other tertiary education institutions that offer degrees in entrepreneurship, TSiBA is the only one that focuses on the undergraduate student. The programme obviously includes theoretical material, but students get a great deal of hands-on experience. If it’s possible to learn entrepreneurship, gaining experience is the only way to do it.

Meinert explains: “Our goal is to plant the seeds of entrepreneurship in all our students, and we do this by providing them with a real experience of what it’s like to be an entrepreneur. During the foundation course, they engage in simulations and then move on to venture projects in their first year of the degree. For these they are given a very small amount of capital from which they need to grow an entrepreneurial initiative. The second year involves working on a business plan for a viable business idea, which they present to a panel of real venture capitalists at the end of the year. The final year involves an industry practical project in which those who managed to secure VC funding can incubate their businesses, or they can choose to take up industry internships in real companies.”

Funding models

This level of education doesn’t come cheap and offering students full tuition scholarships means constantly having to secure funding. “Some 80% of our funding comes from corporate CSI budgets – supporting entrepreneurship makes good sense for businesses and they see the value of funding TSiBA,” says Meinert. But, she adds, the university can hardly position itself as an entrepreneurship institution without being entrepreneurial itself. “It’s important that we investigate innovative and sustainable ways to fund ourselves, that don’t rely on the grant model,” she says.

To this end, TSiBA has leveraged its expert knowledge and contact base of entrepreneurs to offer consulting services to corporate organisations on their enterprise development (ED) plans. “Many large corporates have budgets set aside for ED and preferential procurement, and they need to invest in these areas  to earn their broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) points. However, they are not in the business of developing small enterprises – this is our area of expertise so we can add value to their BBBEE process on many different levels,” Meinert explains. TSiBA has also established a BBBEE trust that can be used to transfer ownership stakes should companies require this.

Expansion plans

The field of entrepreneurship presents many opportunities for expansion. Already, TSiBA has established an Entrepreneurship Centre to assist entrepreneurs from economically marginalised communities to get their businesses off the ground. “The Centre addresses two major factors that inhibit the growth of SMEs: lack of resources and insufficient managerial talent. Many other centres were not willing to go to the level of detail that a true grass roots entrepreneur needs in terms of education and assistance, so we focus on this level,” Meinert explains. These services are offered free of charge as part of TSiBA’s “pay it forward” ethos, but they also provide the institution with the opportunity to build up a database of case studies and relevant local examples, which can then be used in the classroom.

Meinert’s future expansion plans are driven by a desire to make an economic impact in South Africa. “We’re taking our model into the rural environment. That’s where the greatest need lies and is where we believe we can have the greatest impact,” she explains, adding that TSiBA intends expanding the scope of its entrepreneurial programme to include short courses aimed at supporting existing entrepreneurs. “So much remains to be done in South Africa and entrepreneurship is the way to get us there,” she says. We couldn’t agree more.

Tertiary Institution for Business Administration (TSiBA)
Player: Leigh Meinert
Est. 1986
Contact: +27 21 532 2750
www.tsiba.org.za

Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.

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25 Of The Most Successful Business Ideas In South Africa

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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.

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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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Vital Stats

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.

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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.

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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.

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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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