1GIANTleap’s start-up programme finale event, hosted by Edge Growth, took place at the Social Kitchen & Bar at Exclusive Books in Hyde Park, Johannesburg on Wednesday, 16 August 2017.
After seven impressive tech entrepreneurs pitched their business ideas to a crowd of respected players in the tech, start-up and investment space, the judging panel’s decision was final: Cape Town based iSpani, a brand activation agency focused on township communities, were the winners of a trip to Silicon Valley in San Francisco, USA, to meet tech unicorns, multi-nationals and investors.
The judging panel was made up of entrepreneurs, specialists and investors in the tech space, Llew Claasen (Partner at Newtown Partners), Stephen Newton (President at Illuminate-Africa), Matthew Barclay (MD at Meltwater Africa), Clive Butkow (CEO at Kalon Venture Partners) and Professor Barry Dwolatzky (Founder at Tshimologong).
Twenty-three-year-old final year UCT Accounting student Patrick Machekera from iSpani echoed his elated business partners, 22-year-old Prince Nwadeyi of Queenstown (BCom Economics and Marketing student at UCT) and Ntandoyenkosi Shezi, 22, (BSc Finance, from Port Shepstone KZN), when he said: “I feel so happy, but our success is not certain yet, this is where the hard work begins!” Machekera and team have huge ambitions fuelled by the prize they won.
Machekera describes iSpani as “A decentralized marketing and sales platform that connects brands seeking to enter unreached, informal and undeserved markets with an on-demand sales force that represents and assists them to expand their reach within the respective community in which the brand activator lives.”
“Our business focuses on removing the extractive relationship that exists between consumers and brands by facilitating partnerships that do more than just create employment but rather enrich communities, which then creates brand loyalty as a result,” says Shezi.
iSpani joined the 1GIANTleap program, says Nwadeyi, because “We wanted to make a change in society, but we couldn’t alone. We were desperate, we needed structural assistance. We needed guidance in our business processes and help in managing finance and our business culture. We want to thank Moniek van Erven and Vinu Nair of 1GIANTLeap for their tireless investment in us.”
“1GIANTleap aims to create the job of the future for Africa; those that are still relevant in say 10 or 20 years as they haven’t been made redundant by automation. We believe that technology is the answer to this.”
The current “South Africa’s Next Tech Hero” program was launched on 8 June in Johannesburg by 1GIANTleap’s Moniek van Erven and 1GIANTleap’s technology partner VSpace’s Vinu Nair. Entrepreneurs from both Johannesburg and Cape Town were invited to pitch “a tech idea that will disrupt the African continent”. After a rigorous selection process, both on-and offline, the seven entrepreneurs – the Tech Heroes, were cherry-picked for their promising business acumen, resilient entrepreneurial spirit and savvy technical insight.
Van Erven says iSpani won because “They are firstly a great team with complimentary skills. Moreover, they are clever and have the advantage of youth which enables them to absorb knowledge quickly. They obviously have a profitable business model but they are not guided by money; they are driven to create a positive social impact, which gives them an authenticity that people connect with. We are incredibly proud of them.”
Said Meltwater’s Barclay: “I could feel iSpani’s passion and they were well prepared. They are also addressing a massive opportunity. I wasn’t only impressed that they have already made R150 000, I was impressed that they have already had repeat business. Congratulations guys, exciting times ahead!”
Newtown stated: “There is not a lot of data on the African market, yet there are more than a billion African consumers. I can’t imagine who wouldn’t want to use iSpani to get a pulse of what is happening on the ground. I also like the fact that you have a social upliftment aim of providing employment, it’s a great model and answers a specific need.”
The other six Tech Heroes were: Alex Gabriels and Jade Venter from Spritzed: “The Airbnb for office space”, Aubrey Nyaguse from Skills Gorilla: “A talent matchmaking platform”, Anthony Bruce from Flippen Clever:
“A textbook rental service for students”, Tannon Balanco from Bazinga Services: “On demand transportation services”, Thomas Hart from Rover: “A personalized travel platform” and Ntando Shabalala from Graft House: “Tinder for job seekers”.
Professor Dwolatzky emphasised that “There are so many good ideas here tonight with huge potential. They must carry on taking their ideas forward.”
The purpose of the programme was for the startups to take their wild idea to a validated business model, with their prototype created and their first customers onboarded. The focus is on the lean and agile: How to onboard your customers, which can usually take over a year, in the space of just 12 weeks while not spending any money.
1GIANTleap offered a combination of weekly bootcamps by mentors who are highly successful entrepreneurs and investors, field trips to partner organisations such as Facebook Africa and IBM Research, weekly one-on-one mentorship by both business and tech experts as well as product development.
Says Nair: “The entrepreneurs have gained invaluable connections and new business opportunities, both during the 12-week program and during tonight’s pitching event. We have incubated 24 start-ups to date and we are excited to roll out this program on a large scale, within South Africa as well as in other African countries”.
All talented tech entrepreneurs are invited to register for 1GIANTleap’s next programme – starting in October – at www.1giantleapstartups.com
Top Sectors For SMEs In 2019
“As such, SMEs in the construction, communications and electrical fields are all likely to benefit from supply and sub-contracting agreements over the coming years.”
While the South African economy has been underperforming for a number of years, the first positive signs of turnaround started to become visible by the second quarter of 2018, and by the end of the third quarter, data supplied by Statistics South Africa showed that the economy had indeed grown by 2.2 percent, compared to the previous quarter. This uptick is expected to have a positive effect on business confidence in 2019.
This is according to Jeremy Lang, regional general manager at Business Partners Limited (BUSINESS/PARTNERS), who says that certain business sectors have already seen an increase in opportunities for small businesses and start-ups.
“While these sectors will not be without challenges, the following four industries are likely to offer the best opportunities for small and medium enterprise (SME) owners to grow their enterprises in the coming year.”
The World Travel and Tourism report 2018, revealed that the direct contribution of the travel and tourism sector to South Africa’s GDP has been projected to rise from R136bn in 2016 to R197.9bn by 2028 – set to make up a total of 3.3 percent of the country’s total GDP, says Lang.
“Although this sector experienced some setbacks in 2018, such as the drought in the Western Cape and stricter visa regulations for children entering the country, both the water restrictions and visa regulations have been relaxed and the sector is once again poised for growth,” he says.
Statistics South Africa has credited this industry with being the biggest driver of growth in the country’s GDP, having expanded by 7.5 percent in September 2018, says Lang. “To bolster this, Government has made a concerted effort to stimulate small business growth in this area with initiatives such as the Black Industrialist Programme and the SA Automotive Masterplan.”
He adds that businesses in the manufacturing sphere could therefore likely see significant opportunities in the form of outsourcing contracts and new partnerships with large corporates.
“The debate around land expropriation has occupied most of the discussions surrounding the agricultural sector in 2018, with some questioning growth prospects of this sector. However, this industry has a lot of growth ahead of it, as demonstrated by its 6.5 percent growth over the last three months of 2018,” explains Lang.
“Further to this, the industry is also already taking significant advantage of seven climatic regions in South Africa, with the export of a wide variety of high quality fruit and vegetables increasing substantially,” he points out. The recent outbreak of foot and mouth disease that has resulted in the suspension of the country’s FMD-free status will however significantly impact meat exporters.
In terms of opportunities for SMEs, he says that these may most likely be found in the rural and underdeveloped regions, where the need for resources like efficient transport, state-of-the-art cold storage, better irrigation and private power generation will be key to making agriculture projects more productive and competitive in the export market.
Data and information technology
Connectivity and information technology infrastructure are both crucial to business and employment growth in South Africa, says Lang.
“With many municipalities and the Western Cape government committing to providing all of its residents with free data as part of a plan to expand public Wi-Fi network access, it is clear that this is also becoming a high priority on a state level.”
It has also been reported that South Africa is awaiting the arrival of three international data centres, and large players in the communications sphere, including Vodacom, Telkom and Vumatel, are making huge strides in drastically growing the country’s fibre optic backbone, he adds. “As such, SMEs in the construction, communications and electrical fields are all likely to benefit from supply and sub-contracting agreements over the coming years.”
In conclusion, Lang says that as South Africa’s economic growth has started to turn around, business owners should keep their ears to the ground as 2019 is highly likely to be a year of opportunity.
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SME Insurance Checklist For New Year
Malesela Maupa, Head of Product and Insurer Relationships at FNB Insurance Brokers, advises SMEs to consider the following factors when reviewing their policies.
Business owners who are planning for the year ahead should not overlook the importance of reviewing their insurance policies to ensure they are adequately covered against insurable risks.
Malesela Maupa, Head of Product and Insurer Relationships at FNB Insurance Brokers says, every year businesses face unique challenges ranging from credit and market risks, technological disruptions, compliance, operational and regulatory risks, amongst others. As a matter of precaution, insurance policies should at least be reviewed or updated once a year.
He advises SMEs to consider the following factors when reviewing their policies:
- Employee movements – if there are any employees who have left or joined the company, ensure that your policy is updated accordingly.
This type of cover normally depends on the role and contribution of the employee to the business. For instance, directors may be covered for Key Person Insurance and Directors & Officers Liability insurance.
- Protest Actions – this year is the national election year and leading up to elections we can expect to see an increase in the frequency and severity of protest actions, riots and strikes. Thus, it is essential to ensure that adequate special risks cover is in place from the South African Special Risks Insurance Association (SASRIA).
SASRIA provides cover to both individuals and businesses against special risks like civil commotion, public disorder, strikes, riots and terrorism at affordable premiums.
- Cyber risks – it is essential to communicate with your insurer or broker and find out if there are any new risks that your business should be protected against. Cyber incidents continue to be a major risk for businesses especially in the SME sector. Over the last couple of years there has been a major increase in the number of reported cyber incidences.
More businesses are now facing increased cyber threats due to their increased dependency on technology, relating to their internal and customer data being compromised by fraudsters. It is therefore essential to have some form of cyber risk insurance cover and/or enhancement of data security protocols.
- Regulatory changes – every year there are a number of regulatory changes that impact businesses directly or indirectly, which may result in fines and penalties for non-compliance.
- Natural catastrophes – the increase in the frequency and severity of extreme weather conditions, coupled with intensifying natural catastrophes will continue to have a significant impact on businesses.
Businesses should ensure they are adequately protected against these risks to avoid incurring sever financial losses.
- Business changes – should a business consider moving to a new location, purchasing new premises or venture into new business activities, these types of changes could have a major impact on its risks profile. As a result, the policy needs to be updated accordingly.
- New and Enhanced products – An innovative culture has taken over the insurance industry and ever so often we see the introduction of new products or the enhancement of existing products. Get in touch with you broker to advise you on any new products that might add value to your existing insurance portfolio.
“Reviewing your policy regularly gives you peace of mind knowing that you can focus on running your business effectively, without worrying about unforeseen risks,” concludes Maupa.
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