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More Than Sun In Your Eyes: Fedgroup’s Impact Farming Solar Offering

There are many ways to monetise property investments, but Fedgroup’s Impact Farming solar offering combines monetising rooftop space with all the social and tax benefits of green energy. Suraj Lallchand unpacks the benefits for business owners and landlords.

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As a business owner and landlord, have you considered all the ways that you can leverage the fact that you own the building you operate from?

“Landlords of commercial and industrial buildings often don’t think about their rooftops, but they’re also real estate that can be used to bring additional revenue into the business,” explains Suraj Lallchand, Director of Fedgroup Ventures.

“Through our Impact Farming platform, we build grid-tied solar plants that allow property owners to monetise their rooftops.”

In order to qualify for a solar plant, the business should use more than 15 000 kWh per month. “As a rule of thumb, this means your electricity bill should be at least R15 000 to R20 000 per month, however we do a full assessment to gauge whether your property is viable for a solar grid.” If the property does qualify, there are three options to choose from.

Related: What Business Should You Start In Africa?

1. Landlord roof rental

suraj“If a landlord has a rooftop available, we can spec it to see how much solar we can put on it. We then lease the rooftop from them and sell the individual panels to investors. The solar energy produced from the rooftop is then either consumed by the property’s tenants or by the business itself if the property owner is also the tenant.

“Solar electricity is more cost-effective than Eskom’s electricity. It’s a grid-tied solution, so businesses generally still use both solar and Eskom. The size of the solar plant, the weather and how much power is consumed during the day versus at night determines how much energy is drawn from solar compared to the city’s power grid.”

The rental option offers the social perks and carbon credits of running a green business as well as the cost savings of solar versus Eskom’s electricity, without the property owner carrying any risk.

“Our investors earn a return between 10% and 12%, you’d make about 15% to 20% as the landlord, and we make a platform fee of 1% to 2%.”

2. Lease to Own

“In this case, we will fund the solar plant and the property owner will only pay back as much as they consume every month, at the same rate that they’re currently paying Eskom. Within four to six years the system is paid off, and since it lasts 20 to 30 years, the business then benefits from free solar energy for the next 14 to 24 years.

“We created an SPV to finance the solar plant and we amortise the loan until it’s down to zero, at which point we hand over ownership to the property owner. This option is essential for property owners who believe that solar is a good option, but want to see that it works before they take on all the risk of the project themselves. They are tied into a contract for four to six years, but they will never spend more than they currently spend on electricity, thus containing their risk.”

Because of the Section 12B allowance in the Income Tax Act, which relates to renewable energy tax incentives, even though the property owner doesn’t spend the capital outlay to build the solar grid, they still receive 100% of the tax allowance in the year the plant is commissioned. “This is a 100% tax deduction of the cost of the solar plant in that tax year,” Suraj explains.

Property owners who choose the rental option do not qualify for the tax exemption, as the investors in the solar panels can claim that tax deduction. But owners who choose the Lease or Build option (below) will receive the full tax benefits.

Related: Solar Tube Installations

3. Build

“With the Build option, you finance and therefore own the plant yourself. From the moment it’s operational, you benefit from any solar energy produced, at no cost to the company.

“Property owners interested in this option need to determine what their IRR (internal rate of return) is from their investment in solar to see if it makes sense for them. For example, if you can borrow at prime (10%), but your IRR is 20% or 30%, then it’s a sound investment. This option is based on the risk the business owner is willing to take on solar, but as is often the case, with higher risk comes a higher return.”


The benefits of going solar

  • There are tax benefits and carbon credits associated with renewable energy.
  • A Fedgroup subsidiary, Emergent Energy, builds the plants, and uses only Tier 1 technology with a 25-year guarantee.
  • You earn an income.
  • The entire project is measured against triple bottom line — not only financial return, but social return as well.

 

Established in 1990, Fedgroup has grown into South Africa’s leading independent financial services group. Our independence has allowed us to develop our own point of view on the business of insurance and investment. We put people before profit. We believe in old-fashioned ideas like honesty, integrity and dignity. And we place a lot of value in our dedicated and committed staff.

Company Posts

What’s Stopping Your Business From Growing?

Three masters of scale unpack the reasons why you might be failing at growth – or in danger of doing so.

Matt Brown

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So, what’s stopping you from scaling? If you ask Rich Mullholland, founder of Missing Link, the reality is that most entrepreneurs don’t need to understand what it takes to scale. “Scaling speaks to exponential growth,” he says, “which for the vast majority of business owners simply shouldn’t be a consideration. Growth by itself is okay, and even then, it should be growth as and when it’s required.”

Rich’s key point is that growth for the sake of growth should never be a business owner’s primary goal. Growth should be strategic, and good for the company. Growth without a solid foundation can actually harm – or even kill – your company.

If your goal is growth though, here are three key points to keep top of mind.

1. Too many business owners don’t understand what it takes to scale a business

“Entrepreneurs are so focused on getting through the month with their cash flow intact that they often fail to lift their heads and look to the horizon,” says Allon Riaz, CEO and founder of Raizcorp. “Scale requires strategic thinking, while most entrepreneurs are in operational thinking mode.”

Howard Mann, president at Brickyard Partners and a US-based business turnaround specialist, advises business owners to stop focusing on revenue growth alone. “Scaling a business is about balance and too many entrepreneurs just focus on the speed of revenue growth. When revenue grows without the infrastructure to support that growth, clients leave as quickly as they come in.

“Instead of focusing on top-line growth, focus on maximum profit margins. This will completely change where you focus your efforts. I would rather have a $10 million business with 50% margins over the false glamour of a $50 million revenue business with razor thin profits.”

Related: Raizcorp: Business ‘Think’ has to come before the Business ‘Plan’

2. Without the right systems, process and people, you’ll never be able to scale

Allon believes the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make are:

  • Not arranging sufficient cash reserves for a growth period
  • Believing that the people who brought you to point A are the same people who will take you to point B
  • Having insufficient systems to scale the business

Rich agrees, adding that you need to focus on the business you want to be, and not the business you currently are. “Businesses often commit legacide,” he says. “They allow the legacy systems, put in place for a business of a smaller stature, to hold them back. Not to get too cheesy here, but to quote the Great One, NHL hockey legend Wayne Gretsky, you need to skate to where the puck is going. The systems you put in your business should be systems appropriate for the business you want, not the business you have. Sure, you’ll possibly be paying more in the short term, but it will be a fraction of what you lose trying to play catch-up later.”

Howard believes that losing track of managing the expenses required to manage growth is one of the biggest stumbling blocks entrepreneurs face. “To intentionally over simplify it, you want to figure out the most efficient and effective way to rapidly attract and close new clients while being able to serve and delight them at the lowest possible cost,” he says.

“Another mistake is taking on too much debt in the name of growth. We are all mesmerized by VC backed start-ups that put out press about their massive growth. You do not see how much cash they are burning through and that most of these companies have net losses that are growing as fast (or faster) than their revenue growth. Again, protect your profit margins. That is your growth fuel and protection against shocks in the economy.”

Related: [PODCAST]: Listen To Rich Mullholland Share Tips On Building Your Personal Brand

3. Growth for the sake of growth can actually kill your business

Before you embark on your growth journey, understand that growth, without sufficient structural foundations, can often lead to a business collapsing. “Some scale has the opposite of economies of scale, and actually becomes more expensive as the business becomes more complex,” says Allon. “It’s important to restructure the model as the business grows to ensure the highest possibility of economies of scale.”

Howard warns that a business structured to lose money as it grows is a poorly structured business. “Making the switch back to strong profitability after a growth phase is difficult to pull off,” he says. “Yes, we all know Amazon.com eventually did it. You are not Amazon.com. Growing with a net loss is a straight road to the business graveyard.”

Rich disagrees with the notion that growth in and of itself will lead to death. He believes that growth is, generally speaking, healthy. “I’ve seen businesses grow too quickly and not know how to deal with it, and I’ve seen businesses that out-grow the maturity of their management teams and get strangled by the firm hold the management team try to keep,” he says, but for Rich, this is the product of a business ill-prepared for growth, rather than a product of the growth itself.

“This is why slow is often better, as opposed to scale,” he says. “I remember when my son was young, and I was still his hero. I couldn’t imagine him shouting at me the way I did to my folks as a teenager – I’d be destroyed. So, I asked my dad about it, he smiled and said, don’t worry kiddo, they ease you into it, it all happens over time. By the time they start screaming, you’re ready. That’s true too for business growth. Most entrepreneurs are running their businesses as a real-time business school. You can’t always rush that education.”

Related: [PODCAST] Howard Mann, President Brickyard Partners – How To Survive The Struggle Of Running A Business


TOP TIPS

Allon: One top tip for business owners on scale is to remain strategic by knowing what you want to create and by ensuring a healthy balance of capital resources, sufficient people skills and the appropriate support systems.

Howard: Famed business owner Ricardo Semler said “Only two things grow for the sake of growth: Businesses and tumors.” Get crystal clear on why you want to grow. Once you do, find your balance between accelerating new business and the cost to manage that business.Scaling, like a scale, needs balance

Rich: Stop thinking about scale, and start thinking about solving an important problem that world has, even (especially) if they don’t know it yet. It the problem is real, and big enough, you will have a scale-able business.


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See Allon Raiz, Rich Mulholland and Howard Mann live at the first Secrets of Scale event, which will be taking place at the MESH Club in Rosebank on Thursday, 24 May. Buy your tickets online here: www.qkt.io/secretsofscale

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Company Posts

Why Customers Don’t Respond To Disruption

You’ve got chatbots running your customer service, interactive screens across your stores and you’ve just appointed a chief digital officer. Why aren’t you seeing sales going through the roof?

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PwC partner Quinton Pienaar says there could be many reasons for this. But the short answer is probably that in your understandable rush to stay relevant and keep up with the latest technology trends and developments, you lost sight of your number one priority. You’re just not that into your customers – and they know it.

It’s fairly easy to get dazzled by the array of technologies out there. But the trap that you’ve got to guard against is that you start seeing the world through a technology lens, rather than a customer one. Remember, technology is a tool, not an outcome. It’s the means to the end, not the end itself.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t be transforming your business digitally. You absolutely should. But there’s a big difference between investing in technology to keep up with the Joneses, and investing in technology that’s going to drive specific business outcomes and improve the customer experience.

Related: Reimagine The Use Of Technology

In fact, it would be downright dangerous to ignore the game-changing benefits that the current wave of emerging technologies brings to the table. To understand what they can do for your business, you have to know what they are. We at PwC talk about the ‘essential eight’:

  • The Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are the building blocks for the next generation of digital work.
  • Robotics, drones, and 3-D printing are all about machines that extend the reach of computing power into the material world.
  • Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) merge the physical and digital realms, and offer incredible advances in customer experience.
  • Blockchain rethinks our approach to commercial transactions by allowing participants to exchange value, and verify ownership of something, without a third party.

Some of these technologies are verging on science fiction. So how do we use them in a way that supports customer obsession? The starting point of any successful customer transformation is a customer-focused design that brings together three essential elements – business strategy, customer experience and technology – into a coherent, fully-fledged digital strategy.

In other words, today’s most successful companies have a strategy that is focused around a simple and regularly-updated list of priorities. They incorporate the new generation of technologies like IoT, blockchain and AI. But they keep their people, and their customers at the core of their business by designing strategies that directly address customers’ underlying needs and desired outcomes.

Related: Why Your Latest Tech Investment Might Not Be Wowing Your Customers

This sounds dead obvious. But what we find is that many companies we talk to are focused on growing their revenues, or making improvements to their products and services, rather than creating better customer experiences. Or they have the strategy, but are battling to execute it effectively.

Of course, to underpin this customer transformation journey, you’re going to need some data and the foundational technologies on which today’s innovations depend – data mining and analytics, mobile, and cloud. You may also need to rethink your processes to manage, enrich and maintain data, and operationalise it throughout your business.

So you have all of that in place? Good. Now stop. Breathe. Ask yourself whether your technology and data are truly supporting an unwavering focus on the customer. Because if you take one message from this article, let it be this: in today’s marketplace, putting your customer at the centre of your business is imperative to driving growth and profitability, winning market share and unlocking the value of your technology investments.

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Are You Suited to Entrepreneurship

Start This Business With Zero Advertising Budget And No Need For Premises

What do we need to do to make our chances of entrepreneurial success as high as possible? Is it possible to build and position a business that has the highest statistical chances of survival? How would we even go about building such a business? Financial Freedom Project seems to have the answer.

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What are the causes of most business failures?

When it comes to business failure in South Africa, the numbers aren’t optimistic. Some of the more common reasons for business failure include:

  • Start-up funding
  • Ongoing support
  • Lack of new business to sustain growth
  • Admin time / costs associated with running a business
  • High cost of equipment / premises
  • Advertising budget
  • Cost of personnel labor
  • Legalities of employment contracts
  • Costs of credit
  • Market experience
  • Competition within the industry
  • Current market conditions.

With the odds stacked against you, what type of business could you start that offers you:

1. Minimal start-up funding

Consider minimal start-up funding requirements to mitigate as much risk as possible and make start-up as easy and quick as possible.

We need to go as low as less than one month of one month’s average salary as so to be able to start this business on the spot. Let’s make our criteria less than R10 000.

Related: 15 Things Every Newbie Needs to Know About Starting a Business

2. Mentor/ Trainer support

For support and experience we need to have easily accessible communication methods with a mentor / trainer i.e. WhatsApp and skype.

3. Access to a market full of customers with unlimited spending ability

Want a colossal market, how about an estimated 5.3 Trillion Dollars a day?

4. No need for an advertising budget

Maybe a business where customers come to you without advertising because they want what you have. Let’s be ridiculous and put a zero advertising budget.

5. Minimum paper work / admin requirements before and after sales

Let’s aim for no admin and have everything processed and stored online for absolute minimal ongoing costs.

6. No premises required

You can work from anywhere at minimal cost and only need one computer.

Related: Why Build a Business Just to Close It?

7. No employees required

This business must be able to run as a “one man show” as to exclude all labor costs and employment legalities. As in previous point, let’s aim for one person to run this business and internet to stay connected to the world.

8. Little competition

This industry offers the least possible competition between participants.

9. A industry with no “seasonal times” so you can make money all the time

To get a never ending supply of opportunity we absolutely have to be a part of the global supply and demand system.

10. A proven concept

This will be outlined below.

What’s the business?

Financial Freedom Project provides you with a long-term financial freedom by utilising financial markets. The Financial Freedom Project is a results-based wealth creation training and mentorship programme that has start-up capital requirements of only R4 000 to begin accessing markets.  The course requires only 3 days of your time and offers unlimited course re-sits.

For more information about how you can work with Financial Freedom Project visit financialfreedomproject.net or call them on 010 020 5699 for further info.

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