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Dream Big – Engen Dealer Lydia Ramatisa

All the odds were stacked against her, but Engen service station owner Lydia Ramatisa is proof that with hard work, commitment and passion, success is indeed possible.

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Lydia Ramatisa, franchisee at Engen’s Orkney Convenience Centre in Klerksdorp in the North West, could easily have become yet another teenage-mother dropout. Instead, the arrival of her baby girl Rethabile 14 years ago sharpened her focus, driving her to chase her dreams.

“I was in Grade 11 and suddenly I had to find work so I could feed my baby. It was a tough lesson,” Ramatisa recalls.

Today she is a beneficiary of Engen’s decision to prioritise the empowerment of black women in a bid to effect positive change in South Africa.

In 2012, the National Empowerment Fund set up a R50-million affordable loan facility for black entrepreneurs to acquire Engen retail dealerships.

According to Unathi Njokweni-Magida, Engen’s Head of Transformation and Stakeholder Engagement, 46% of the company’s 1 020 retail service station are now black-owned, with 10% of them women-owned.

Ramatisa recalls how she got her first position with Engen as a cashier at the Uncle George Service Station in her home town of Jouberton, also in Klerksdorp, 12 years ago. She had sought a better-paying job after first working in a bakery for just R800 a month.

Related: Engen Gave Me The Platform To Chase My True Calling – Former Pump Attendant

“I used to work extra hours at the Uncle George location, just to make sure the business was running well. My main aim was to see the customers always happy with our service,” she says.

That’s because while Ramatisa may not have an education beyond Grade 11, she quickly figured out that if the customers were happy, the business would thrive.

“I got interested in everything about the operations of the service station, and soon began acting as a supervisor, directing, managing and helping train the staff to do their best work.”

After eight years at the Jouberton location, where she rose to assistant manager, Ramatisa got the chance to run her own concern when her boss, Dr Abdool Ebrahim, suggested she apply for her own Engen franchise.

“I told him I was an uneducated woman but he was adamant that I was young and ambitious, and that I was exactly the kind of person Engen was looking for, who they could help to learn and grow.

“Once I got to the interview I had no more fear. I just wanted to show them exactly what I had to offer,” she remembers.

That was in 2015, when the Orkney site was ready to reopen after a two-year shutdown.

“Engen put their trust in me, and I became the majority shareholder in the operation, which includes the petrol and Quickshop, as well as a Corner Bakery and Barcelos.

Ramatisa and her team have since doubled previous sales figures for all parts of the operation, and were named by Engen in the top two operations for the region in July.

“It’s extremely hard work, but I am so proud of what we are achieving,” she adds.

Ramatisa also changed the future for Rethabile, and her other daughter, Bonita, 3, explaining that she invests in their education wherever possible.

“I may be a single mother, and I may not have much of an education, but I am proof that hard work really does pay off. When I failed to matriculate, I promised myself that that would be my last failure.

“Other women out there need to know that they can do the same if they put in the time and effort, and if they have love for what they do.”

Njokweni-Magida says that by continuing to attract and grow the talents of young women like Ramatisa, Engen is helping build a prosperous future for all South Africans.

Related: How Does One Start a Petrol Station in South Africa?

“We are focused on integrating more women across our entire value chain, and are very proud of success stories like this one.”

Other than the significant boost in the number of black and women dealership owners, the Engen Limited board comprises 54% black members, and 31% black women. The Engen management committee is 64% black, and 36% black female, while senior management in the organisation is 65% black of which 36% are black female.

Ramatisa says she “fell in love” with Engen’s operational methods.

“I remain passionate about the Engen brand, and thank the company for proving that if you offer someone an opportunity, along with mentorship and guidance, anything is possible.”

Her message to other women like her? “Don’t be afraid to dream big. I am proof that you can do anything you want in life.”

Entrepreneur Magazine is South Africa's top read business publication with the highest readership per month according to AMPS. The title has won seven major publishing excellence awards since it's launch in 2006. Entrepreneur Magazine is the "how-to" handbook for growing companies. Find us on Google+ here.

Entrepreneur Today

A Conversation With Yourself Could Change Your Life

Thami Buti is a 24-year-old South African actor. He is amongst the 46% of South Africans between 20 and 50 years, who have no savings at all. He’s probably one of 90% of people who will retire with less than 50% of their income.

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Except none of this is true for Thami, because he’s had a conversation with himself – at six different ages – in Sanlam’s new educational campaign.

In Sanlam’s Conversations with Yourself campaign, Thami gets transformed into a 20, 30, 50, 65 and 80-year-old (actor Hlumelo Mzimkulu plays the 10-year-old) called YOU. And over a series of conversations, these characters in their different age brackets sit and share wisdom on life’s ‘what ifs.’ Disrupting the traditional approach to ‘finance talk’, the central idea is this: what if you could learn everything you need to know about life, from yourself? What if 65 year-old you could tell you – at age 20 – to stop buying so many cappuccinos and to invest more into an RA? And 30-year-old you could ask you at 80 how many kids you have – and how you afford to give them the lifestyle and opportunities you want for them?

Sonja Sanders, Head of Marketing and Client Experience at Sanlam Personal Finance, says each of the seven Conversations with Yourself films uses humour and insight to broach a different topic – and presents the accompanying product solve. “For example, the Conversation on Life and Retirement tackles retirement in a completely new way. Planning for retirement is often not a priority when you’re young. But what if you knew only 6% of South Africans are able to cover their monthly expenses once they retire? And what if you could ask your 65-year-old self whether you are one of the 6%? Would 20-year-old you still take that year off? Would you at age 30 still buy that flashy car?”

Using banter to bring home the fact that today’s decisions will define life when you’re older, the script takes a notoriously low-interest topic and makes it relatable.

The same goes for the highly sensitive topic of death, which no one wants to talk about — undoubtedly a problem in a country with an average age of death that stands at 64 years, and where 40% of the workforce is more likely to have cell phone insurance than life insurance.

Sanders says, “Conversations with Yourself takes an idea we’ve all had to the next level: The wish to fast-track into the future to see if our lives worked out the way we expected. Ultimately, you are your own partner in life. Everything you do now either benefits your future or jeopardises it. It’s often too daunting to imagine one’s future-self. But Conversations with Yourself connects the future to the present, and makes the experience real and impactful.”

Related: How To Start Saving Money Today

South Africa’s problematic savings culture has been well documented. In the retirement space, Sanlam’s Benchmark research has identified millennials as the generation most at risk of having insufficient savings, mainly due to their DIY approach to money matters, their mistrust of financial service institutions and the fact that they don’t identify with retirement as a goal. It’s a generation known for overconfidence despite their poor financial literacy. Millennials prefer self-directed advice – so what better way to deliver it than through a ‘conversation with yourself’?

“As WealthsmithsTM, Sanlam wants to empower people with the knowledge and tools to enable them to make positive financial decisions today. This should set them up for success both now and into the future. Conversations with Yourself helps people to appreciate that the planning they do today has significant implications for their future self. Ultimately, the campaign uses progressive storytelling to share a story to which any generation can relate. The story of you,” concludes Sanders.

Visit Conversationswithyourself to watch the films and start your own conversation.

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10X-e Partners With Alphacode To Accelerate Five Top Companies In South Africa

South African Scale Up specialists, 10X-e, will partner with SA’s premier fintech incubator subsidiary of RMI, Alphacode to support SA’s top Fintech’s on their path to scale.

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This collaboration will initially see five of SA’s highest-profile fintech companies investing two years scaling up using 10X-e’s much lauded 10X program. 10X-e’s founder, Jason Goldberg, says that this accelerator program helps scale-up teams learn and apply the 12 disciplines for rapid and sustainable growth.

“We are delighted to be working with AlphaCode –  SA’s premier fintech support brand – to help some of SA’s top Fintech  entrepreneurs scale-up” says Jason.

The first five elite fintech businesses selected to join the program are Entersekt, Livestock Wealth, Click2Sure, Invoice Worx and Isazi Consulting.

“Globally leading mobile authentication and security specialists, Entersekt are set to be South Africa’s next ‘unicorn’ while Livestock Wealth is changing the investment landscape by offering the ability to own and manage your livestock via an app from Sandton (or anywhere), outsourcing all the dirty work to their specialist operators. Click2Sure was founded by Dan Guasco – the original founder of what became Groupon SA, and Isazi Consulting (who started already in late 2017)is led by one of SA’s leading teams of data scientists and artificial intelligence experts” Jason continues.

“Another accolade for this cohort is that three of the five businesses are majority black-owned tech ventures, and most certainly earned their place on the program on pure merit terms. We’re really proud to be supporting these globally competitive entrepreneurs.”

Related: Jason Goldberg Asks Are You (Realistically) Ready To Scale Your Business?

Jason notes that, even for elite entrepreneurs and ventures like these, specialist scale-up accelerators like the 10X Program can be the difference between scaling and failing.

“There’s no doubt that accelerators specialising in how to scale a business are invaluable for most entrepreneurs at this delicate stage in a business journey. Growth often kills when businesses cross a threshold of complexity not experienced before. Most great entrepreneurs are scaling a company for the first time. Fortunately, there is a defined ‘physics’ of rapid growth;  rightly applying the 12 Disciplines of 10X Entrepreneurs – the heart of the 10X Program – you can dramatically increase the rate and sustainability of growth,” he says.

“We are dealing with the ‘crème de la crème’ of South Africa’s entrepreneurs dealing with the most extreme growing pains, so the need for guidance from seasoned Scale Up leaders who’ve ‘been there’ is key to both the success of the business and to its contribution to our economy. We look forward to helping these Founders navigate the Bermuda Triangle of growth successfully” Jason concludes.

The partnership with Alphacode will see game-changing support provided to these businesses worth around R1million over a period of 2 years as they are hand-held by industry experts on the treacherous path to scale.

Related: Do You Have That 1 In 100 Business That Can Scale And Land An Investor?

About 10X-e:

Scaling – the Bermuda triangle of growth – is hard, and fraught with failure. Very few of even the top 1% of ventures succeed at scaling, mostly due to poor execution, due to lack of experience scaling businesses. The 10X Program brings the ‘Science of Scale’ and seasoned Scale Up Leaders to help founders navigate the Bermuda Triangle of growth

Our team has helped some of the Continent’s most exciting high growth businesses scale up through the most treacherous parts of the journey. We tailor make multiple workshops to the specific needs of you, your team, and your business. Our workshops serve to address the most pressing challenges that your business faces, helping remove the hurdles towards 10X growth.

For more information on the 10X Accelerator Program, visit: www.10x-e.com

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Chairman Of Futureproof, S’onqoba Maseko On Instilling New Ways To Accelerate Our Youths

In the near future, traditional employment opportunities will no longer exist. SA needs to prepare our children for the fourth industrial revolution, now.

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Futureproof is proud to introduce the chairman of our board, S’onqoba Maseko. S’onqoba received her Honours Degree from Wits University and is just three exams away from being a fully-qualified Actuary. The 31-year-old S’onqoba, originally from the banking industry, has previously filled several key roles at The First Rand Group, including; executive assistant to the Group CEO, Sizwe Nxasana and the head of the FNB Innovators Programme.

She is the founding COO of the Sifiso Education Group – a disruptor in the education space which also is the owner of Future Nation Schools. S’onqoba is also the Managing Director of an advisory and implementation consultancy for SMME’s called Perpetu8.

Naturally, combining her skills and experience with a passion for education and entrepreneurship has made her the perfect fit for Futureproof! S’onqoba believes that education is crucial. “It’s a game changer for the nation, the continent and the globe. It requires us to prepare children for an uncertain future in the best way we know how,”

“In a country such as ours, Futureproof instils the entrepreneurial qualities needed to not only run a business but to navigate through life,” S’onqoba continues.

Related: Futureproofing The Next Generation Of Entrepreneurs

The current education system does not cater to the needs of our local and global economy. In the time of innovation, our teachers are not equipped to deal with this change and soon enough, traditional employment opportunities will no longer exist. Speaking to this topic, S’onqoba says: “It’s not about only content – you can Google anything. It’s about skills such as critical and analytical thinking, creativity, communication, collaboration and technology”.

With the lack of skills available to prepare our country for the fourth industrial revolution, S’onqoba says that we need to find ways to unearth existing skills and to impart new skills that are more aligned to what industry and the country needs. “We need to reframe our thinking: we need entrepreneurs, technical specialists, technology whizz kids. We need creatives, thinkers and solution-orientated problem solvers”.

“We need to make school content and theory relevant to the current and future world. We need a curriculum, approach and a pool of skills that align to the world and the future predicted. Grade 1 learners this year will finish school in 2030. Are we teaching them what they will need to succeed?”

She believes that the high unemployment rate of our youth is largely due to a lack of skills. “We have so many job vacancies yet so much unemployment. We still have companies wich only recruit based on formal qualifications and see this as the only way to have the required skills. This is outdated, and the world is moving beyond it”.

With South Africa now in technical recession, S’onqoba stresses the need for the country to pull up its boot straps and get on with the hard work that needs to be done. “Our entrepreneurial ecosystem is not working as well as it should. It’s broken. We’re spending billions as a country whilst seeing very little impact and return of that investment”.

Caring for the needs of all stakeholders, S’onqoba believes that one of the reasons for Futureproof’s success and phenomenal growth is because the business simply ‘gets on with it’. “No excuses, no time wasting” she explains.

Related: How Are South Africans Feeling About The Work Environment?

As a flourishing entrepreneur in a tough economy, S’onqoba shares some of her key learnings and says that an entrepreneur cannot survive without grit, curiosity and EQ: “Set up a business for scale from day one – think of your end state and build your business with that in mind. Recruit people who ‘get it’ and then develop them to be the best version of themselves so that they can add great value to your business,”

“Fill your board with passionate, skilled specialists who don’t only look to monetary income but are driven by passion, community and purpose.  Manage your time like its money; in fact, it’s more precious”.

We need to build sustainable businesses that employ more people and grow in revenue and turnover. “We need businesses that embrace the future and technology to solve the problems we face in an efficient and customer centered way without legacy and an inability to innovate standing in the way.” she concludes.

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