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Doing Business in SA

How Does POPI Apply In The Retail Environment?

Retailers would be well advised to prepare for the implementation of POPI.

Jana van Zyl




With the advent of the Protection of Personal Information (POPI) act, retailers have to be prepared to deal with customers’ questions about the type and amount of personal information that they are collecting, why they are collecting it and how they intend to protect it against abuse.

What is personal information?

First of all, we should be aware of what constitutes personal information. POPI provides a wide definition because this could include diverse forms of data, ranging from addresses, ID numbers, cell phone numbers, biometrics and even personal views on certain issues.

It also differentiates between “normal” personal information, special personal information (such as information about health) and children’s personal information – all of which have different rules that will apply to the processing of the personal information.

There isn’t a defined list of information that retailers are prohibited from collecting, but as a rule of thumb, any business should only collect what is necessary for them to achieve a specific purpose – which should be communicated to customers or potential customers.

Related: Protect Your SME From PoPI

A good example of that would be the use of ID documents to verify a customer’s identity. The retailer has to justify why he or she should be entitled to collect the information.

For example, do they really need a copy of a customer’s ID document or is it sufficient for that customer to merely display the document? If they don’t need a copy, why keep it? And even if they can justify why they need a copy of such a document, they should only use if for the purpose they originally collected it for, e.g. a credit check.

Should they wish to use the information for any other purpose, they will need to notify the customer.

You need customers’ consent

Consent as such does not always have to be given in written format, as “it won’t always be practical to gain written consent.

For example, if a supermarket has a lucky draw box on the counter where customers could place their till slip with a phone number to enter into the competition, they won’t want a customer to fill in a lengthy permission form – but they will only be able to use the information for entry into the draw.

Any other purpose will need to be specified explicitly. It is important to bear in mind what the expectation of the individual would be – what can the retailer use the information for?

Similarly, if a customer has signed up for a loyalty program, the retailer is entitled to track their purchases and use it to promote products in the future based on buying behaviour – provided that they received consent to do so when the customer signed up or notified the customer that the information would be used for that purpose.

Communicating with your customers


Of course, not all retailers’ communication occurs in-store. Many retailers frequently communicate with their customers via social media platforms such as Facebook.

Social media has meant that many customers make information publicly available. The fact that information has been made publicly available does not mean that POPI in its entirety won’t apply.

If the company wishes to collect data via their Facebook page, they would still be responsible for securing and protecting that data once they start processing it, and they would still have to limit their use, disclosure and retention of that information in line with the purpose for which they collected it.

Related: Five Tips for Effective Marketing that Complies with the POPI Act

Keeping the information secure

Naturally, security is a large concern for retailers, many of whom frequently receive and retain sensitive hard copy information, such as credit card slips. Retailers would have to retrain their employees in preparation for POPI.

There isn’t an exact list of specific measures to be implemented, but retailers would need to review their current processes and educate their staff about the importance of safeguarding personal information, for example, they would need to ensure their staff understand that items such as credit card details can’t be left in full view of anyone, but should be locked away.

One needs to consider it from a practical point of view and educate staff members with reference to practical examples.

Impact on HR

POPI also has implications for future HR activities. These will for example include revising current policies and employee contracts.

Although this may be a costly exercise, most retailers – rightfully – see the Act as a positive introduction to their systems. Most retailers understand that the misuse of customer information will have serious reputational consequences.

And it is necessary to create awareness around staff members to focus on how they use personal information. Responsible use is key!

Jana van Zyl joined Dommisse Attorneys in February 2013. Jana’s practice services various national retailers in the clothing, furniture, automotive and wholesale industries, credit providers, call centres, marketing companies and other service providers. Her focus is on compliance with consumer laws and she is also actively involved with training.

Doing Business in SA

Free Contract Of Employment Template Download

Download your free payslip and contract of employment here to get you started in the right direction.

Menét Hamel




In your downloads you will find the following resources below:

  1. A standard contract of employment (template) that complies with all the relevant laws.

The permanent contract of employment should be read carefully and changes should be made in line with the offer of employment and the company policies and procedures.

When employing staff you should ensure the contract is legal and legally binding. Customise this contract of employment to suit your business and what you can offer your employees.

Download your contract of employment template here

Please note the template provided is for a permanent placement.

Related: How the Right Technology Makes DIY Payroll As Easy As 1-2-3

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Doing Business in SA

What steps do I need to take to start manufacturing toilet paper?

This comprehensive guide takes you through everything you need to know to start a toilet paper business.





The business of producing toilet paper has been recognised as one of the fastest developing assembling commercial initiatives in Africa.

Toilet paper is used in our homes, work places, schools, hotels, restaurants, shops, maternity homes, hospitals, churches, clubs and many others. It can be used in various other ways such as cleaning up messes and decoration.

The difference between toilet paper and other tissues is that it is created to breakdown in septic tanks and other tissues don’t necessarily do this.

We recommend: What steps do I need to take to start manufacturing toilet paper?

To start and run a business, it is not enough just to have a good, viable idea. You also need to have the right skills, attitude and personality to make the enterprise succeed.

Benefits of starting a toilet paper production business

  • It has a simple production procedures
  • There are not many product offerings or varieties
  • Simple organisational involved
  • High interest on the product
  • Easy to market
  • Product is a primary necessity in society.

Possible challenges of starting a toilet paper production business


  • The biggest constraint will be the insufficient amount of planted trees. This will affect you as this is where you will harvest your raw materials from. This can result in a reduction of plantation productivity. According to the Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa 60% of all plantation trees are planted and grown especially for pulp and paper production.
  • You will need to apply for water permits to meet the terms of the regulatory framework managing water usage. This is a long and difficult process and can limit you from achieving profitable operations.
  • Transport, labour and licence costs will have a negative impact on your ability to competitively trade. You will need to apply cost control measures to remain competitive.

Did you know?

  • In an average public bathroom, it takes 71 separate visits to finish a single roll of toilet paper.

Financing your venture

It’s most likely that you will need finance when setting up a toilet roll production business. The toilet roll production equipment is available in South Africa and ranges for a single machine from R175 000 for the bottom end of the range model to R500 000 for a fully automated machine.

Manufacturing plants are also very large in size which means financing it will be quite expensive. You should use your capital to purchase the equipment you’ll need.

Try and save money by buying economical but high quality equipment. Once you have all your equipment find a premise that will accommodate all of it. Once that is completed then contact stores and potential clients.

Related: Attention Black Entrepreneurs: Start-Up Funding From Government Grants & Funds

You can save money by renting or buying an inexpensive lot for your toilet paper business. You could even start in a smaller building and when you have increased your funds, upgrade your facilities into a bigger space. Make sure to take all of the costs into account when trying to finance your toilet paper business.

You’ll have to include raw material required to make the rolls. These are supplied in jumbo tissue rolls and cost from R6 600 per ton. You will also have to take into account staff.

Zhauns, a supplier of business opportunity machinery supports BEE by offering a variety of empowering programs for street vendors, unemployed and disadvantaged groups through consortiums, local and international joint ventures and has financial links which assist entrepreneurs in need of funding.

Related: Government Funding and Grants for Small Businesses

A start-up would need two-five people operate a small business of this kind. It takes about three months to set up the business and to properly train staff to operate machinery”. Zhauns offer free training when they install equipment purchased through them.



Planning is always your starting point when starting a new business. There are several techniques you can use for your planning process. You can use ready and existing techniques and plans or you can use innovative techniques which will make your toilet paper business more unique.

Focus on the specifics of what you will need for your toilet paper business such as equipment, employees, property and raw materials. Making errors during the planning phase is normal. After your plan is finalised it should be flexible enough that you can add changes.

In this industry you are not just competing with local manufacturers. When you become a toilet paper business owner you have to figure out how you’re going to compete with different international manufacturers.

Speak to owners of similar businesses

The best source of information you can find about an area of business, is other toilet paper business owners. They will tell you in practical terms whether your ideas are feasible or not.

To locate similar businesses which can give you advice on any aspect of their toilet paper business, contact your local Chamber of Commerce. Shereen Crowie of Curviro Trading says: “It’s a commodity with no age restriction and no seasonal production demands.”

For support and guidance


If you are going to be a toilet paper business owner you need to have business skills, even more so than technical skills about your product or service. This means you have to understand finance.

You need to know how much your idea is going to cost you, whether it will make enough money to pay back these costs and make enough in addition to satisfy your requirements.

The DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) recognises that support in the form of advice from specialist organisations is vital and the offer support groups to SME businesses.

One such arm is Khula Enterprise Finance which is a wholesale finance institution that has well-developed ties in the public and private sectors.

Through these channels – which include commercial banks, retail financial institutions, specialist funds and joint ventures they play an effective role in order to bridge finance gaps that are not addressed by commercial financial institutions in the small business sector.

Did you know?

  • People use on average 8.6 sheets per trip, which is a total of 57 sheets per day. That’s an annual total of 20,805 sheets.


It is recommended to get training when joining the toilet paper business industry. There are many essential practical skills which you will need when starting a toilet paper business.

There are courses offered by universities which will help improve your skills and understanding of the technology involved. You can alternatively get training from current experts in this field.

You can apply for internships at factories and get first-hand experience. If this is your plan of action make sure to take very detailed notes about all the process involved.

Draw up a business plan

Business plans are essential for businesses from when they start out to years later when your businesses has evolved and improved.

It becomes a guide for you and your employees to track whether your business has gone off course from the core of quality production. Experts can be hired to help you draw up a toilet paper business plan for a fee.

Business plans can be used to organise everything from your marketing strategy to the strengths and weaknesses of your business.

We recommend: Business Plan Examples to Get You Going

It will help your toilet paper business keep clear objectives as well as making your priorities recognisable. Milestones recorded in your toilet paper business plan will help you follow your progress.


Choose a good location in an industrial area for your toilet paper business. It’s recommended that you get a realtor, since they are the experts in their field.

They will advise you on which buildings are better for your toilet paper business and which ones would be unsuitable.

Make enough time to view each property before purchasing or renting it. Your toilet paper business can’t be in a residential area.

Types of Machinery


You will need to buy or rent the necessary equipment with the finances you have. Some of the machinery that you need to get going with your toilet paper business is:

  • Core making cutting machine – This produces the brown cardboard core that the tissue is wrapped around.
  • Jumbo reel winding machine– This winds the tissue paper from the jumbo reels to the cardboard core. It will automatically stop at a programmed size.
  • Embossment attachments or embossing machines – Embossments are the prints on the surface of the tissue and the tissue roll can either be plain or embossed.
  • Band saw cutting machine – this cuts the paper into the right side.
  • Other machinery requirements:
    • Generator for power outages
    • Auxiliary equipment
    • Transportation – its optional but can be essential.

We recommend: Where can I hire the machinery needed to manufacture toilet rolls?


This type of business will require trained employees. It would be a definite advantage if you hired experienced operators or people experienced in similar industries.

This will allow you to hit the ground running instead of slowly training your staff from scratch.

Hiring inexperienced people can also cause a decline in the quality of your production as well as a decline in the level of your toilet paper businesses productivity.

Marketing strategies

Once production has started you will need to come up with various ways of distributing your product.

Since your brand is new, you will most likely have to do a demanding marketing drive so that customers know who you are.

Customers won’t buy your brand if they don’t know who you are. Advertising consultants can help your toilet paper business with effective strategies which will help increase sales.

Which works better buying machinery first or getting orders before buying equipment?


Look at your market before spending the money. It is good business practice to establish if there is a market for your product before buying expensive equipment. For this reason, it is vital to do research and to prepare a business plan.

Renting manufacturing equipment for this purpose may be a solution. Once the toilet paper business is up and running you can then consider buying your own machines.

Buying outright can result in a huge drain on cash in the first year of your toilet paper business.

Did you know?

  • In South Africa a family of four uses approximately one toilet roll every 1.5 days

Example of innovative thinking

Chandaria Industries operates out of Kenya and Tanzania. They sell their products in 15 African countries.

What sets them apart from their competitors is they make their recycled toilet paper from used paper.

What innovative thinking does for them, their communities and their country:

  • They are making money from recycling
  • They are transforming waste into a necessity
  • They are now a source of national wealth
  • They provide employment for many thousands of people

Just the used paper recycling activities creates nearly 20 000 jobs. By doing this they have saved over 30 million trees since they started in 1964. They still have more room to grow, saying that they don’t get as much used paper as they need.

Expansion options

Toilet paper will always be a necessity in people’s lives. Where your toilet paper business can grow to:

  • Custom toilet paper – creating toilet paper with personalised images or custom images
  • Various sizes – You could expand your toilet paper business into various other toilet paper sizes and thicknesses
  • Various tissue paper opportunities – You can expand your business into the tissue paper manufacturing business

Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa (Pamsa) executive director, Jane Molony says that the pulp and paper industry’s is continuing to grow and make profits because of their energy-saving initiatives.

Molony also says that the value of the pulp and paper industry (excluding forests and recycling) in 2014 was around R27.8 billion.

Tissue paper achieved a yearly turnover of R2.5 billion in 2014 which is a yearly growth of 2.7% since 2009.

This industry has large growth potential and is a great business opportunity. Toilet paper has become a basic need all across the world. It can’t be recycled so there is always need for more.

Every single person on the planet uses it on a daily basis. Why shouldn’t you be the one making it and selling it to them?

Related: Free SWOT Analysis Template

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Doing Business in SA

What should I know before registering a holding company and how do I go about doing it?

Holding company pros and cons.





What is a Holding Company?

A holding company is one that owns at least 50% of the companies companies’ stock. It is a company that doesn’t trade but only has one purpose which is to own shares in other companies.

Under what circumstances would one need to register a Holding Company?

A holding company is a firm that owns other companies’ outstanding stock. It usually refers to a company which does not produce goods or services itself.

Related: The Basics Of Registering A New Company

Its only purpose is owning shares of other companies.

From a financial point of view, it is usually possible to obtain control of another company with less investment than would be required in a merger or consolidation.

However, the decision on how to split companies depends on the industries in which you operate the shareholding structures, risk profiles and many other issues that will be specific to your situation. This is why professional help is highly recommended.

What are the Pros and Cons of a Holding Company?

The Pros:

  • The shares of stock in the subsidiary company are held as assets on the books of the parent company and can be used as collateral for additional debt financing.
  • Holding companies and their subsidiaries are considered separate legal entities, so that the assets of the parent company and the individual subsidiaries are protected against creditors’ claims against one of the subsidiaries.
  • Each subsidiary retains its own management team, and the subsidiaries become responsible to the parent company on a profit and loss basis.
  • The law sees a company as separate from its shareholders and directors. This means that in a CC, the assets and debts of the business belong to the company and the assets and debts of the shareholders and directors have nothing to do with the Company.

 The Cons:

  • Companies have to obey all the rules of the Companies Act, which is a long and complicated law.
  • A company has to keep detailed records. A professional organisation is needed to help explain which records must be kept.
  • It is difficult to terminate a company. A lawyer’s help is needed.

What legal entity must one register for a Holding Company?

The best route is to register as a (Pty) Ltd. This is a limited liability entity and the registration process of a (Pty) Ltd is very cumbersome and professional help is almost always sought.

Related: 3 Key Law Areas To Know When You Launch That Start-up

A Close Corporation can also hold shares in a company and can become the holding corporation in a group of companies.

How do you go about registering a Holding Company?

To register a holding company you need to consult an attorney in order to lodge proper compiled documentation at CIPRO in Pretoria. The Shelf Co Warehouse registers most Companies and Close Corporations in South Africa.

For more information visit:

Related: The Definitive List Of South African Business Incubators For Start-Ups

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