These businesses have seen a gap in the market
The old adage goes that entrepreneurs are born not made, but this myth has been busted with a programme that is helping start-ups to take their fast-growing businesses to the next level.
Introduced in South Africa 24 months ago, Accelerator is a programme run through the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation and has been successfully operating globally for more than 12 years.
“While financial growth is important and one of the measures of success we have also seen the entrepreneurs grow personally,” explains Walter Penfold, EO Accelerator Chair.
“Personal growth and perspectives from other business owners enables entrepreneurs to think strategically about the future of their business; how to break into new markets; secure partnerships or funding that will take their businesses forward.”
Successful entrepreneurs who have come through the programme are tech-based businesses that are using digital technologies to disrupt conventional business models.
In the fintech, health and education space. These businesses have seen a gap in the market and are deploying digital solutions to solve everyday issues.
Arlene Mulder and Camille Agon, co-founders of WeThinkCode
Trains and develops skilled and talented software engineers for corporates.
“Going through the Accelerator programme together as co-founders enabled us to work on our strategy together. We learnt to have the confidence to scale our business and we will be opening a campus in Cape Town at the end of this year and have seen 240% revenue growth in the last year.”
Allison Martin, founder of UDoTest
Provides self-testing for STD’s, cervical cancer and colon cancer without doctor’s visits has seen a 30% growth since joining Accelerator.
“The most important thing I have learnt during the Accelerator programme is the powerful perspective you get when you surround yourself with entrepreneurs that share their insights and experiences. It has enabled me to manage my business better,” says Martin.
Ryan Canin, Co-Founder of DocFox
A web-application which automates compliance in FICA allowing financial services firms to seamlessly on-board clients in a matter of minutes attributes the success of the Accelerator programme to being incredibly focused.
“I realise that you can’t get distracted by opportunities which are not on your critical path. I have become ruthless with my time and only work on what drives value given our business direction,” he says.
Ryan Sauer, founder of Punk Media
Which provides digital media buying services and has grown by more than 100% year on year for three years consecutively. “During the programme, I learnt many other entrepreneurs are going through very similar issues to my business regardless of what they do. Whether it is people, cash flow or positioning to name a few. Knowing you are not alone and have a core group of people to share business and personal events in your life makes the experience of being in EO Accelerator all the richer,” says Sauer.
Sven Reinersten, founder of Jawbone
Core to the programme is the peer-to-peer engagement which is set up through Accountability Groups and through which participants meet on a regular basis to share experiences and work on common business challenges.
While not in the digital space, a growth success story comes from Sven Reinersten. He has seen a 700% increase in profits in his experiential events business.
“The Accelerator programme enabled me to build a business around our culture and accountability, with a focus on innovation and clinical execution. I am now working on my business and not in my business,” says Reinersten.
The Alfa Romeo Stelvio – More Than An SUV
The All-New Alfa Romeo Stelvio draws inspiration from the legendary mountain pass linking Italy to Switzerland, with 48 hairpins in quick succession.
The All-New Alfa Romeo Stelvio draws inspiration from the legendary mountain pass linking Italy to Switzerland, with 48 hairpins in quick succession. The Stelvio pass is widely seen as one of the most beautiful and engaging roads on the planet.
Win A Business Makeover With Retail Capital To The Value Of R250 000
Retail Capital is giving SMEs an opportunity to win a makeover to build their brand with an investment of R250,000.
Retail Capital is giving SMEs an opportunity to win a makeover to build their brand with an investment of R250,000. During the summer campaign, SMEs are encouraged to share the vision of how they would like to see their business grow, and led by a team of experts, Retail Capital will work with the winning SME to help make their vision come true.
While South Africa’s economy is not faring well, Retail Capital CEO Karl Westvig remains optimistic about the country’s retail and hospitality sectors. “We are seeing some green shoots, with an increase in turnover in these sectors – starting from the end of September. Economic conditions remain very tough, but businesses seem to be trading well into October and we’re hoping this continues into the festive season trading.”
According to recent statistics from Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), South Africa’s retail sales rose by 5.5% year-on-year in August 2017, following a downwardly revised 1.6% gain in the previous month and above market expectations of 2.3%. It is the biggest gain in retail trade since August of 2012.
Related: How To Raise Working Capital Finance
“I do believe that these sectors will see an improvement during the summer season. But, key to this will be for small business owners to ensure that they have the right amount of stock, adequate cash flow, as well as other systems in place to meet the ever-changing needs of customers,” says Westvig.
For many small businesses, however, continually adapting to market changes requires cash injections that they don’t often have.
The prize includes the following:
- Business plan/consulting
- Marketing strategy
- Design and branding
- Website and social Media and,
- R50k capital to gear your business.
Westvig explains that the summer campaign tagline ‘Your Vision. Our Belief’ really speaks to why Retail Capital first opened its doors. “Our goal is to see the potential of small businesses and to work with them in making these become a reality.”
He adds that the idea is not to simply help one business during the campaign either. Westvig points out that one of the biggest challenges that small businesses face in the sluggish economy is enough foot traffic through their doors. “Generally, the main hurdle in creating brand awareness and projecting credibility of their establishments boils down to establishing a strong online presence.”
“One of the first ways that South Africans identify a business or service provider that they want to work with is over social media – even in a country where the digital divide has traditionally separated the technological haves from the have-nots,” he says.
He explains that companies that don’t have a social media presence are running the risk of being overlooked entirely. “They may attract customers in their own community with signage or word of mouth, but to grow a business, they need to expand their reach – and that’s where social media comes in.”
But, the reality is that resource and time constraints mean that for many SMEs, social media is not prioritised. “Unfortunately for the average small business owner, they don’t have the time or expertise to get connected.”
Understanding the importance of having an online presence, Retail Capital has also committed to developing the digital presence of all campaign entrants. This would include setting up each entrant’s digital presence on platforms such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Tripadvisor, Zomato and any others that may be relevant to their specific market or industry.
“As a partner to many SMEs in South Africa, we are continually looking at new and innovative ways to help provide them with the much-needed support in order for them to realise their visions. SMEs need to be supported with initiatives like targeted education and training, supportive legislation, and funding opportunities that collectively help them grow our national economy,” says Westvig.
Who we are and what we do:
“More than R1.25 billion has been extended to a range of businesses including food trucks, hair salons, restaurants, spas and franchised retail stores. Many of these businesses have not been able to raise funding in any other way, other than to go to unscrupulous lenders,”says Karl Westvig, the CEO Retail Capital, a company that provides working capital with the help of innovative lending technology.
“We have also estimated that for every R160 000 we lend, we create a new job. This means that 625 jobs have been created purely by enabling small businesses to get the funding they need for working capital requirements or expansion opportunities.”
Retail Capital’s system, which enables it to advance funding to small businesses, based on real time information on credit card transactions, is providing a new funding alternative to entrepreneurs who have previously been turned away by banks. Because it is able to get actual sales information, it can approve funding immediately, and allow for flexible repayment options based on sales cycles of the particular businesses it is funding.
“This creates significant opportunity for small business owners to focus on their business and grow volumes or look for expansion opportunities rather than spend their time frantically trying to repay debt or keep the business alive after debt repayments have eaten away at any cash reserves they might have had.”
Retail Capital funding is repaid by it taking a percentage of a business’s recorded credit or debit card sales, with repayments fluctuating in line with their business cycle. This has the effect of ensuring that it isn’t overburdened with debt.
“In the past six years since starting the business, small businesses have had the benefit of R1 billion in funding they would have been unable to get through traditional channels,”says Westvig.
Against the backdrop of recessionary conditions in South Africa, Retail Capital’s client information reveals growth in informal sector turnover across a number of industries.
“We believe that growth in the informal sector is outstripping that of the formal sector,”says Westvig.
As a large proportion of the businesses it funds are women- and black-owned, there is evidence that entrepreneurs who have previously been excluded from access to finance are now enjoying success now that their access to finance problem has been solved.
How Investors Can Take Advantage Of The Rand’s Currency Trading Rates
Negative sentiment is likely to be pervasive with the SA economy, and it will take more than a new figurehead in government to right the wrongs of a mismanaged economy.
The USD/ZAR currency pair is trading in the 13.65 range heading into mid-December 2017. Over the past year, the 52-week low was 12.3126, and the 52-week high was 14.5742. As one of the more volatile currencies in the trading spectrum, the ZAR is closely associated with the political shenanigans taking place in South Africa.
The year to date return for the currency pair is -0.50%, after having started 2017 at 13.7351. Much of the activity taking place with the ZAR is speculative. Futures contracts are largely responsible for the whipsaw movements in prices.
Wilkins Finance strategists stress the importance of credit ratings agencies on currencies:
‘Whenever credit ratings agencies such as Moody’s and Fitch downgrade their assessments of the South African economy, this has a negative impact on the ZAR. The impact is not always predictable however – towards the end of November 2017, the USD/ZAR had appreciated after the recent ratings downgrade of the economy.’
Moody’s Investors Service downgraded South Africa’s economy to a rating of Baa3. This is the lowest rating level for Moody’s. Further ratings will be announced in February next year. Fitch has already downgraded the foreign currency and local currency to BB +, but has offered a stable Outlook for the ZAR.
That S&P also downgraded the South African economy to sub-investment grade is an important decision, and one that will have negative ramifications for the South African bonds market. Now, the Barclays Global Bond Index will no longer feature South African bonds. That South Africa’s bond market will be excluded from the World Government Bond Index will also be a bugbear to any hopes of the ZAR appreciating.
Interest Rates in the South African Economy
The South African interest rate is highly attractive to foreign investors, given that the UK, US, Canada, Japan, and European bank rates are at historic lows. There is little to be gained by investing cash in fixed-interest-bearing securities in these economies. The current interest rate in South Africa is 6.75% (as at November 23, 2017). The interest rate has dropped to expand economic activity in the country.
Overall, South Africa’s inflation rate for the year is expected to remain at 5.3% dropping to 5.2% in 2018 and rising to 5.5% by 2019. Global investors remain concerned about the risk/reward environment in South Africa. The country has experienced significant capital outflows in recent years, driven in large part by uncertainty regarding future prospects. The USD/ZAR was trading at 14.60 in late November, and current ZAR strength is being attributed to USD weakness.
Factors on Both Sides of the Atlantic
One of the major economic events affecting exchange rates will be the reconciliation of the House and Senate bills on US tax legislation. Any major overhaul of the US tax code will invariably result in a dramatically boosted USD, and a weakened ZAR. For traders, it appears to be short-term call options on the local currency and long-term call options on the USD.
It is evident that currency traders are hedging against the ZAR over the long-term. The fundamentals of the economy are structurally unstable. The power grid infrastructure, water supply problems, and political instability at the highest echelons are but a few of the many problems plaguing South African growth prospects.
However, the ZAR will draw strength from the election of a credible leader, and this will be particularly noteworthy with Cyril Ramaphosa’s appointment. Overall, negative sentiment is likely to be pervasive with the SA economy, and it will take more than a new figurehead in government to right the wrongs of a mismanaged economy.
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