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Zanusi Brand Solutions: Nomahlubi Simamane

A brand solutions company carves a niche – and wins awards – with a strategic model that helps clients define where they are going.

Juliet Pitman

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Nomah Simamane

It’s not for nothing that Nomahlubi Simamane was named Businesswoman of the Year twice in 2009 – first at the 2009 Topco National Business Awards and then in the Annual Black Business Quarterly (BBQ) Awards. Since starting Zanusi Brand Solutions in 2001, she’s driven expansion into Kenya and Zambia; signed on an impressive array of clients both locally and in Africa, the United States and Europe; achieved year-on-year double-digit growth figures; and pioneered a niche in branding solutions that has the market sitting up and taking notice. Not bad for someone who says she never thought she could be an entrepreneur.

Seeing the gap

At a time when most branding companies are struggling to stand out in what is a saturated and competitive market, Zanusi makes for an intriguing case study into how true differentiation follows from really seeing what the market needs. It was while running one of the country’s large advertising agencies that Simamane saw the gap. “I realised that many South African companies were focusing on the ‘current source of profit’ – the traditional white market. But I knew that the sheer numbers of the emerging black market was what would give brands a future. I knew they needed to change their positioning to be relevant to this market and make significant inroads into understanding what makes it tick. The old market wasn’t growing, whereas the new market held almost unlimited potential,” she explains. But in 2001 there were still many misconceptions about the emerging market. “I formulated a full list of ‘boardroom myths’ – things people believed about the market that were unfounded and simply not true,” says Simamane. When she drew up a business plan to target this market and presented it to her superiors in London and New York, it was rejected. “I think it was too early and people were afraid to change at that time. They knew their market and were comfortable speaking to it. The new market was still too much of an unknown entity,” she says.

Setting off alone

But her ideas niggled and refused to go away and eventually Simamane resigned her position to set up her own business. She took a month off to hone her business plan and, importantly, clearly define her offering. “Right from the start, Zanusi’s differentiation lay in its proposition of ‘migrating brands for future profit’,” she says. It was a positioning that directly filled the gap Simamane had identified, while cleverly addressing the fear of change that she’d witnessed in the market. “The idea is to navigate a business through the process of modifying or changing so that it can address new opportunity markets, without destroying its current source of profit. “So brands continue doing what they are currently doing, but we give them the tools to look ahead to the future and define a roadmap that will help them become relevant to the emerging market over time. This means they continue to rely on their current source of profit, which is important, while ascertaining where the future source of revenue will come from,” she says. Simamane worked hard at refining a unique offering – the Zanusi Migration Model, a strategic tool to allow companies to achieve these goals.

Carving a niche

It was an appealing offering that made sense to companies. Of the prospective clients Simamane had drawn up in a list for her business plan, Zanusi landed contracts with 60%. “I think it worked because migration seemed less drastic than overnight change. Companies could continue operating in a market they understood, while making strategic plans for the future rele-vance of their brand to the markets of tomorrow.” Being future-focused also allowed the business to carve out a niche in a market where most agencies were focusing on clients’ immediate needs. Doors started opening and today Zanusi lists Zain, Acsa, Gauteng Tourism Authority, Liberty Life, Pick ‘n Pay and Old Mutual among its many impressive clients. It has also won the tender to stage the Public Viewing Area event on behalf of the City of Joburg at Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown during the 2010 World Cup.

Sharing lessons

Although Simamane started the business on her own and is the personal recipient of awards, she’s ever-cognisant of the contribution of her team to Zanusi’s success. “I think one of the most important success factors in being a leader and an entrepreneur is to clearly define what you are setting out to do – and then to sell it to the people you are leading. I also think you need to define a culture for an organisation so people know what kind of business they work for, what it stands for and that they belong. And finally you have to celebrate your wins and share your losses to understand why you didn’t succeed,” she says. Defining the future is something Zanusi does particularly well for its clients, but more recently the company is practising what it preaches internally. “We want to be a worldwide ambassador for brands and branding, particularly in Africa,” Simamane says. It’s a clear goal and if her track record is anything to go by, one that she will have little trouble reaching.

Zanusi Brand Solutions
Player
Nomahlubi Simamane
Est. 2001
Contact: +27 11 886 0502
www.zanusi.co.za

Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.

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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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