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What business opportunities are available in the environmental and waste management industries and in the eco, green business sectors?

South Africa like the rest of the world is becoming increasingly environmentally conscious.

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Think Green

There are many ways to turn trash to cash. Sorting for recycling, battery recycling, waste processing, renewable energy solutions, acid mine drainage and infectious clinical and hazardous waste disposal are just some of the many possibilities. There are some very useful websites that will point you in the right direction in terms of needs and trends.

Local sites

The Institute of Waste Management: There’s loads of information on the Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa (IWMSA) website. This information includes training and education. This organisation comprises of voluntary members who promote environmentally acceptable, cost effective and appropriate waste management practices in South Africa.

Science Africa: This local online magazine has lots of news, funding and grant information regarding environmental, scientific and health issues directly affecting society.

Earthlife Africa:
Earthlife Africa encourages and supports individuals, businesses and industries to reduce pollution, minimise waste and protects natural resources.

E-waste
: eWASA is the e-waste association of South Africa – is the platform for recycling of electrical and electronic waste in South Africa.
International sites

Ideas Inspiring Innovation: For international waste management ideas.

Waste-Management World: This online magazine is packed with ideas and information.

Training and skill requirements

You do not need specific skills to operate a business in the environmental and waste management industry. Experience in the industry is beneficial. There are short courses as well as a variety of formal qualifications on offer. Contact the IWMSA for more information on short courses. These courses concern waste management usually take two days.

Formal qualifications include:

  • Waste management and pollution control (Usually a BSc degree with subjects such as Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Climatology)
  • Technikon diploma – Environmental Science or Engineering
  • Environmental engineering Degree
  • B Tech degree in Civil Engineering

Most of the major educational institutions in South Africa offer these courses. For more information about workshops and short training courses, contact the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism.

Producing energy and selling it in South Africa

Many good reasons exist for South Africa to invest in private renewable energy projects. These reasons are dominated by environmental concerns, diversity of supply, job creation and economic development.

It’s vital to reduce South Africa’s carbon footprint
Reducing the carbon footprint in South Africa is a very serious issue. This can be achieved in many ways. It doesn’t matter if it’s a small or large project – solar cookers, LED energy efficient lighting, wind energy or solar heated geysers, it all adds up in an effort to foster clean energy generation.

The SWH opportunity
By the end of December 2010, the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) and the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS) will publish amended national building regulations to make it compulsory for new buildings and upgrades to homes to install solar water heaters (SWHs) and other energy efficiency building requirements. It is expected that from March 2011 the dti will ensure that legislation is enacted to make it compulsory to install a SWH when an existing geyser is replaced.

Government is keen to fund electricity generation
The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) has stated that it is keen to fund electricity generation and, since the world is moving towards clean energy generation, solar is one of the IDC’s many clean electricity generation technologies of focus to deliver green jobs throughout the value chain. All these new regulations not only help our planet, but create wonderful new opportunities for entrepreneurs.

CST is the most promising renewable energy source

Concentrating Solar Thermal Power (CST) is viewed as “the most promising renewable- energy generation option in South Africa” and it should receive priority support, even though wind and biomass should also be explored and developed, says the dti.

Biomass is plant material, either raw or processed, and includes agricultural residues, wood waste, paper trash, municipal solid waste (MSW), energy crops and methane captured from landfill sites. The problem is that the capital cost for building a biomass power plant is high.

Raising the money
Many expected Government to provide the financial support to make renewable energy into a viable business, but it has limited budgets. Financiers see renewable energy as a high-risk investment, so entrepreneurs have to think out the box to get new projects up and running.

Venture capital specialists and angel investors are possible alternative routes to consider when looking for funding. Venture Capitalists and angel investors are more likely to take risks. Venture capitalists are always willing and able to invest money in young and early stage companies. Angel investors are wealthy individuals seeking to invest their own money in early stage companies.

Speak to experts

The dti could also be a useful organisation to consult with, as it is heavily involved in the renewable energy industry. If you have specific projects talk to Mainstream Renewable Power SA. Its core business is to develop, build and operate wind energy, solar thermal and ocean current plants by collaborating with governments, power companies, developers and investors across South Africa, Europe, North America and South America.

Speak to energy efficiency networking associations such as The Southern African Association for Energy Efficiency (SAEE). Besides networking, they run renewable energy training courses including Introduction to Energy Management (IEMT), Certified Energy Auditor Course, Certified Measurement and Verification Professional (CMVP) and Certified Energy Manager Course (CEM). Organisations such as the SAEE, attract organisations and funders that would be interested in innovative ideas with in the renewable energy industry.

Being Green in Business

The advantages of complying with the NEM Act is that it not only will business lower energy bills, but but will contribute to creating a healthy carbon footprint, reduce CO2 and reduce risk.

Is there a local standard for business to comply with?

In South Africa the department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) controls and monitors “green” business issues through the environmental management inspectorate, known as the Green Scorpions. They issue compliance notices to businesses who do not meet Government standards.

Those who fail to comply have to cease with activities that are considered a contravention of the country’s National Environmental Management Act (NEMA). The Act describes compliance standards.

How to get green

To get “green”, a business needs professional guidance. The certification process is independent of Government. However, it provides a business with real product differentiation, resulting in greater revenue and recognition from an increasingly selective market.

Independent certification provides assurance to the public that your company is operated and managed in an environmentally responsible manner and associating with your commitment provides peace of mind and respect.

There are various companies that you contact for certification. There are a number of companies who offer different specialities.

  • Heritage – The Environmental Management Company
  • Eco-Consulting
  • The Natural Step – South Africa
  • Green Earth Consulting

Bodies that monitor the Green industry in South Africa

Other than the DEA, there are some very useful organisations that will point you in the right direction in terms of needs and trends.

  • The Institute of Waste Management: There’s loads of information on the Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa (IWMSA) website. This information includes training and education. This organisation comprises of voluntary members who promote environmentally acceptable, cost effective and appropriate waste management practices in South Africa.
  • Science Africa: This local online magazine has lots of news, funding and grant information regarding environmental, scientific and health issues directly affecting society.
  • Earthlife Africa: Earthlife Africa encourages and supports individuals, businesses and industries to reduce pollution minimise waste and protects natural resources.
  • E-waste: eWASA is the e-waste association of South Africa – is the platform for recycling of electrical and electronic waste in South Africa.

International sites

  • Ideas Inspiring Innovation: For international waste management ideas.
  • Waste-Management World: This online magazine is packed with ideas and information.

Why is running a green business so important?

Besides saving the planet and leaving a healthy legacy, going “green” is a powerful marketing tool which reinforces your company’s environmental commitment. It strengthens your point-of-sale impact and gives your company greater credibility in an increasingly eco-aware marketplace.

How has small business responded to “going green”?

According to an article which appeared on BizCommunity, Arthur Goldstuck, principal researcher of SME Survey 2010, said that the survey produced unexpected results in terms of “green business”. The assumption that peripheral concerns such as “being green” might be of less interest than establishing a profitable business was disproved when 78% reported that it is indeed important.

That’s exceptionally high. Goldstuck says this is almost certainly a consequence of business owners bringing their personal viewpoints of the necessity for environmentally sound practices into the workplace. Perhaps even more surprising is that emerging businesses were slightly more concerned than established companies. (Source BizCommunity)

Has the recession had an effect on clean energy and green business?

According to Greg Fisher, a lecturer and researcher in entrepreneurship, the recession has diverted people’s attention away from green issues; however, there is still a strong focus on managing businesses and the environment in a more sustainable way.

Fisher said that venture capitalists have large amounts of money set aside for green investments and many of the green ideas that were launched two years back at the height of the boom are now entering the market. In the coming months we will see a host of electric cars come to market, many of them developed by new independent companies.

“We will also continue to see bio fuels become a more mainstream alternative to current fossil fuels. New industries are emerging and with those come opportunities for entrepreneurs,” explains Fisher.

Training and skill requirements

You do not need specific skills to operate a business in the environmental and waste management industry. However, experience in the industry is beneficial. There are short courses as well as a variety of formal qualifications on offer. Contact the IWMSA for more information on short courses. These courses concern waste management usually take two days.

Formal qualifications include:

  • Waste management and pollution control (Usually a BSc degree with subjects such as Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, and Climatology)
  • Technikon diploma – Environmental Science or Engineering
  • Environmental engineering Degree
  • B Tech degree in Civil Engineering
  • Most of the major educational institutions in South Africa offer these courses. For more information about workshops and short training courses, contact the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism.

Green Opportunities are growing

The SWH opportunity

By the end of December 2010, the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) and the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS) will publish amended national building regulations to make it compulsory for new buildings and upgrades to homes to install solar water heaters (SWHs) and other energy efficiency building requirements.

It is expected that from March 2011 the dti will ensure that legislation is enacted to make it compulsory to install a SWH when an existing geyser is replaced.

Government is keen to fund electricity generation

The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) has stated that it is keen to fund electricity generation and, since the world is moving towards clean energy generation, solar is one of the IDC’s many clean electricity generation technologies of focus to deliver green jobs throughout the value chain.

All these new regulations not only help our planet, but create wonderful new opportunities for entrepreneurs.

CST is the most promising renewable energy source

Concentrating Solar Thermal Power (CST) is viewed as “the most promising renewable- energy generation option in South Africa” and it should receive priority support, even though wind and biomass should also be explored and developed, says the dti.

Biomass is plant material, either raw or processed, and includes agricultural residues, wood waste, paper trash, municipal solid waste (MSW), energy crops and methane captured from landfill sites. The problem is that the capital cost for building a biomass power plant is high.

Think out the box

Many expected Government to provide the financial support to make renewable energy into a viable business, but it has limited budgets. Financiers see renewable energy as a high-risk investment, so entrepreneurs have to think out the box to get new projects up and running.

Venture capital specialists and angel investors are possible alternative routes to consider when looking for funding. Venture Capitalists and angel investors are more likely to take risks. Venture capitalists are always willing and able to invest money in young and early stage companies. Angel investors are wealthy individuals seeking to invest their own money in early stage companies.

Speak to experts

The dti could also be a useful organisation to consult with, as it is heavily involved in the renewable energy industry. If you have specific projects talk to Mainstream Renewable Power SA. Its core business is to develop, build and operate wind energy, solar thermal and ocean current plants by collaborating with governments, power companies, developers and investors across South Africa, Europe, North America and South America.

Speak to energy efficiency networking associations such as The Southern African Association for Energy Efficiency (SAEE). Besides networking, they run renewable energy training courses including Introduction to Energy Management (IEMT), Certified Energy Auditor Course, Certified Measurement and Verification Professional (CMVP) and Certified Energy Manager Course (CEM). Organisations such as the SAEE, attract organisations and funders that would be interested in innovative ideas with in the renewable energy industry.

South Africa is very green conscious

South African rose to prominence last year when President Jacob Zuma agreed to bold emissions targets for South Africa. The eyes of the world are on South Africa, as it prepares to take over leadership from the Mexican government as the host of the international climate negotiations in 2011.

The Cancun Communiqué is an initiative of the Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change.  South African business leaders have expressed a desire to support Cancun Communique  with more than 25 South African companies have endorsed the Communiqué, including Santam, SAPPI, Group Five, Allied Electronics Corporation, Nedbank and Vodacom.

For more information:

Heritage Environmental Company

Eco Consulting

Business Enterprises at University of Pretoria

Green Earth Consulting

Department of Environmental Affairs

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How Do I Start A Transport Or Logistics Business?

An all in one guide to starting a transport and logistics business.

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transportation

Thinking about starting a transport business?

Forecasts indicate that the demand for freight transport will grow in South Africa by between 200% and 250% over the 15 to 20 years.

Some corridors, (high volume transport routes that connect major centres), such as the corridors between Gauteng and Cape Town (which amount to 50% of all corridor transport) will increase even faster.

The scope in the transport and logistics industry is varied – from a one-man show using a small truck to transport goods and offer services, to a fleet of transport vehicles which travel the length and breadth of South Africa’s roads.

Road transportation includes commuter transport from taxis to bus transportation.

It can be a tough industry and there are many threats facing transport businesses but if you get it right, you can build a successful business.

What is covered in this guide:

  1. How to start your transport and logistics business
  2. How to get funding for your transport business
  3. What are the costs involved
  4. Finding customers and getting transport contracts
  5. Getting onto suppliers lists
  6. Buying trucks and employing drivers
  7. What are the regulations and risks
  8. Where to find guidance to start your business.

Ready to get going? Click the arrow button to learn how to start your own transport business.

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Start-up Industry Specific

How does one go about starting a distribution business? Or how do you become a seller for an international company locally (SA)?

How to register an international product nationally.

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17-feature-image-how-does-one-go-about-starting-a-distribution-business-or-how-do-you-become-a-seller-for-an-international-company-locally-sa

If you already have a particular product you are thinking of distributing, your best option would be to contact that company and find out what the requirements are to distribute their products. Each company will have different criteria.

Here is some advice however on starting a wholesale distribution business:

So you want to start a wholesale distributorship. Whether you’re currently a white-collar professional, a manager worried about being downsized, or bored with your current job, this may be the right business for you. Much like the merchant traders of the 18th century, you’ll be trading goods for profit.

And while the romantic notion of standing on a dock in the dead of night haggling over a tea shipment may be a bit far-fetched, the modern-day wholesale distributor evolved from those hardy traders who bought and sold goods hundreds of years ago.

The Distributor’s Role

As you probably know, manufacturers produce products and retailers sell them to end users. A can of motor oil, for example, is manufactured and packaged, then sold to automobile owners through retail outlets and/or repair shops.

In between, however, there are a few key operators-also known as distributors-that serve to move the product from manufacturer to market. Some are retail distributors, the kind that sell directly to consumers (end users).

Others are known as merchant wholesale distributors; they buy products from the manufacturer or other source, then move them from their warehouses to companies that either want to resell the products to end users or use them in their own operations.

Three types of operations can perform the functions of wholesale trade: wholesale distributors; manufacturers’ sales branches and offices; and agents, brokers and commission agents. As a wholesale distributor, you will probably run an independently owned and operated firm that buys and sells products of which you have taken ownership.

Generally, such operations are run from one or more warehouses where inventory goods are received and later shipped to customers.

Put simply, as the owner of a wholesale distributorship, you will be buying goods to sell at a profit, much like a retailer would. The only difference is that you’ll be working in a business-to-business realm by selling to retail companies and other wholesale firms like your own, and not to the buying public.

This is, however, somewhat of a traditional definition. The traditional wholesale distributor is still the one who buys “from the source” and sells to a reseller.

Getting Into the Game

The field of wholesale distribution is a true buying and selling game-one that requires good negotiation skills, a nose for sniffing out the next “hot” item in your particular category, and keen salesmanship. The idea is to buy the product at a low price, then make a profit by tacking on an amount that still makes the deal attractive to your customer.

Experts agree that to succeed in the wholesale distribution business, an individual should possess a varied job background. Most experts feel a sales background is necessary, as are the “people skills” that go with being an outside salesperson who hits the streets and/or picks up the phone and goes on a cold-calling spree to search for new customers.

In addition to sales skills, the owner of a new wholesale distribution company will need the operational skills necessary for running such a company. For example, finance and business management skills and experience are necessary, as is the ability to handle the “back end” (those activities that go on behind the scenes, like warehouse setup and organization, shipping and receiving, customer service, etc.).

Of course, these back-end functions can also be handled by employees with experience in these areas if your budget allows.

Setting Up Shop

When it comes to setting up shop, your needs will vary according to what type of product you choose to specialize in. Someone could conceivably run a successful wholesale distribution business from their home, but storage needs would eventually hamper the company’s success.

Starting Out

For entrepreneurs looking to start their own wholesale distributorship, there are basically three avenues to choose from: buy an existing business, start from scratch or buy into a business opportunity. Buying an existing business can be costly and may even be risky, depending on the level of success and reputation of the distributorship you want to buy.

The positive side of buying a business is that you can probably tap into the seller’s knowledge bank, and you may even inherit his or her existing client base, which could prove extremely valuable.

The second option, starting from scratch, can also be costly, but it allows for a true “make or break it yourself” scenario that is guaranteed not to be preceded by an existing owner’s reputation. On the downside, you will be building a reputation from scratch, which means lots of sales and marketing for at least the first two years or until your client base is large enough to reach critical mass.

The last option is perhaps the most risky, as all business opportunities must be thoroughly explored before any money or precious time is invested. However, the right opportunity can mean support, training and quick success if the originating company has already proven itself to be profitable, reputable and durable.

During the startup process, you’ll also need to assess your own financial situation and decide if you’re going to start your business on a full- or part-time basis. A full-time commitment probably means quicker success, mainly because you will be devoting all your time to the new company’s success.

Like most startups, the average wholesale distributor will need to be in business two to five years to be profitable. There are exceptions, of course. Take, for example, the ambitious entrepreneur who sets up his garage as a warehouse to stock full of small hand tools.

Using his own vehicle and relying on the low overhead that his home provides, he could conceivably start making money within six to 12 months.

Operations

A wholesale distributor’s initial steps when venturing into the entrepreneurial landscape include defining a customer base and locating reliable sources of product. The latter will soon become commonly known as your “vendors” or “suppliers.”

The cornerstone of every distribution cycle, however, is the basic flow of product from manufacturer to distributor to customer. As a wholesale distributor, your position on that supply chain (a supply chain is a set of resources and processes that begins with the sourcing of raw material and extends through the delivery of items to the final consumer) will involve matching up the manufacturer and customer by obtaining quality products at a reasonable price and then selling them to the companies that need them.

In its simplest form, distribution means purchasing a product from a source-usually a manufacturer, but sometimes another distributor-and selling it to your customer. As a wholesale distributor, you will specialize in selling to customers-and even other distributors-who are in the business of selling to end users (usually the general public).

It’s one of the purest examples of the business-to-business function, as opposed to a business-to-consumer function, in which companies sell to the general public.

Weighing It Out: Operating Costs

No two distribution companies are alike, and each has its own unique needs. The entrepreneur who is selling closeout T-shirts from his basement, for example, has very different startup financial needs than the one selling power tools from a warehouse in the middle of an industrial park.

Regardless of where a distributor sets up shop, some basic operating costs apply across the board. For starters, necessities like office space, a telephone, fax machine and personal computer will make up the core of your business. This means an office rental fee if you’re working from anywhere but home, a telephone bill and ISP fees for getting on the internet.

No matter what type of products you plan to carry, you’ll need some type of warehouse or storage space in which to store them; this means a leasing fee. Remember that if you lease a warehouse that has room for office space, you can combine both on one bill. If you’re delivering locally, you’ll also need an adequate vehicle to get around in.

The Day-to-Day Routine

Like many other businesses, wholesale distributors perform sales and marketing, accounting, shipping and receiving, and customer service functions on a daily basis.

They also handle tasks like contacting existing and prospective customers, processing orders, supporting customers who need help with problems that may crop up, and doing market research (for example, who better than the “in the trenches” distributor to find out if a manufacturer’s new product will be viable in a particular market?).

To handle all these tasks and whatever else may come their way during the course of the day, most distributors rely on specialized software packages that tackle such functions as inventory control, shipping and receiving, accounting, client management, and bar-coding.

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