David Swartz grew up hard in the Durban township of Wentworth, where opportunities were scarce. His dreams of becoming an architect, thwarted by the modest financial position of his parents, saw him kick-off his working career as a semi-skilled artisan in local industry. Not one to accept mediocrity, David studied diligently to achieve diplomas in project management, auditing and contracts management. His hard work eventually earned him a contracts management role at packaging and paper giant, Mondi. In 2009, with a vision of owning his own engineering services company, David left Mondi to pursue his dream.
Convincing his wife Melanie to join him, the duo setup a Level 1 B-BBEE accredited project management consultancy, with David’s technical focus complimenting Melanie’s ability to manage and streamline office processes. Operating out of their modest rented home, they soon landed a project management contract with Trotech Engineering to help manage a tank maintenance contract at the Engen refinery.
When Trotech’s contract expired in 2014, David faced losing his own contract and essential income. However, a chance discussion with an Engen representative at the refinery ended up changing David Swartz’ future in a flash. It was suggested to David that he tender for the complete Engen refinery tank project solution contract. Undaunted, David Swartz Engineering Services (DSES) was born, adding its name to a tender list of 24 other companies.
When Engen informed David and Melanie that DSES was on a shortlist of two companies, David sensed that Engen had been impressed with what they saw in him. Yet, when Engen actually awarded the contract to DSES, he found himself hopelessly unprepared for the challenges of owning and operating an engineering services company.
“We started out with no money and a critical need to employ people and invest in equipment,” remembers David. “The banks were not prepared to back us and our payment terms with Engen were 45-days.”
DSES ended year one (2015) turning over R2.4 million but barely surviving financially.
“Opportunity helps,” David explains, “but it is hard work that wins the day.”
Despite DSES precarious financial position, Engen began to expand their scope of work. At the same time, Melanie negotiated their payment terms down to 30 days, and eventually to 15 days. This allowed DSES to pay their suppliers promptly and earn credibility with their growing value chain.
Then in 2017 Engen’s procurement department engaged DSES with a development proposal. With financial support from Engen’s Enterprise & Supplier Development Department, DSES focused on acquiring assets to reduce the financial burden of hiring equipment and transport.
The initiative also included post-funding development whereby leading enterprise and supplier development firm, Edge Growth mentored DSES.
The results of this initiative proved successful with DSES taking on an increasing number of tank maintenance, tank repair and other complimentary service projects at the Engen refinery. This also expanded to include Engen’s storage facilities in East London and within the Island View precinct in Durban. DSES’s staff compliment grew from 24 in 2016 to 120 within six months.
“Tankage is a rare skill and you need a development plan for your staff,” says David. “We have our people on American Petroleum Institute Tank Inspection Courses (API650/653 Certification), Safety Management Courses, and Professional Project Management Courses to develop skills to support our growth.”
David pays tribute to Engen for their commitment to DSES and providing opportunities to expand the business in areas of pressure piping, geo-dome roofing and tank design.
“We are thrilled to confirm that Engen’s enterprise development fund is backing us with significant support and funding to gear us towards the future.”
Engen’s head of transformation and stakeholder engagement, Unathi Njokweni-Magida is heartened at the rapid growth of DSES.
“Engen has a solid track record and has proven its mettle in the enterprise development industry,” says Njokweni-Magida. “DSES management team is highly experienced, willing to learn and has shown clear abilities to execute on projects and to rapidly develop delivery teams.”
Njokweni-Magida says DSES loan funding of R4.6 million has helped them acquire their own equipment and vehicles in order to improve their margins in years to come.
“DSES’ stable future growth is built on secured revenues with Engen in 2018. Moreover, thanks to its rising reputation, DSES has a pipeline of projects that will bring exponential growth outside of Engen.
“Engen understands that what is good for the contractor is good for the business, and puts its money and its efforts into developing enterprises like DSES. After all, the wheels of industry will turn more smoothly if Engen can develop all the cogs that drive it,” she adds.
Swartz, for one, cannot thank Engen enough for helping him grow DSES and the support they have given him. “Thanks to Engen trusting us when we first started out and, with their growing backing, we will in all likelihood be employing 250 people before 2020.”
Engen’s Convoy Fund
Convoy is Engen’s Enterprise & Supplier Development Fund to promote broad-based black economic empowerment (B-BBEE) with the objective of maximising socio-economic development through supporting sustainable supply chain transformation. The fund supports
SMMEs (companies with turnover less than R50m) within and outside of Engen’s database. The also fund provides access to finance for both capital and business development needs for entities that are at least 51% black owned and/or black-female owned.
How it works
Convoy provides relaxed requirements for securing business loans to qualifying ESD SMMEs and business development support for the selected beneficiaries. This is to ensure the long-term sustainability of these SMMEs. The fund is managed by Edge Growth, a registered credit provider, and is governed by Engen’s Internal Transformation Committee, overseeing the disbursement and approval of funds.
For SMMEs to be eligible to apply, you must:
- Be an existing SMME with potential business contracts
- Meet the definition of an enterprise or supplier development beneficiary in terms of the revised B-BBEE codes: i.e. be 51% black owned or black-female owned
- Have a turnover of less than R50m per annum
- Be a South African citizen as defined by B-BBEE Codes
- Be in possession of a valid tax clearance certificate and audited/reviewed historical financial statements
- To apply for the Convoy loan facility or to find more information, please email
Off The Beaten Track
What Tourism Month means in South Africa and how Mango Airlines is focusing on local opportunities.
This September, being Tourism Month, we have so much to talk about in South Africa, and so many people to engage with, both domestically and abroad. We are privileged to be able to leverage a broad range of destinations – arguably world-class in nature, and they expand way beyond a beautiful mountain, and an ecosystem of game.
The vast majority of leisure tourists, however, remain attracted to the Mother City and various Safari destination, while business tourists tend to stick to hub cities for short durations of time before departing again.
“There is a golden opportunity to expand on the same offerings – while not detracting from them in any way. Our responsibility is to drive tourism into new areas, really emphasising the differentiators that are incredibly attractive to local and international tourists,” said Benediction Zubane, Head of Marketing at Mango Airlines.
“Often tourists visit one of the more well-known sites in an area, and are completely unaware of the other features and destinations close by. We’re seeing a lot of success in township tourism which goes to show how diversifying can really drive new tourism opportunities,” explained Zubane.
According to Statistics South Africa survey on Tourism and Migration, nearly 3.5 million international travellers visited South Africa in August 2017. Top numbers were tourists from USA, UK, Germany, France and The Netherlands, with African visitors primarily coming from SADC countries. Zubane added, “This means there is vast opportunity to begin engaging with travellers in new countries across the globe. We need to become our own best ambassador, talking-up our famous and lesser known destinations, proudly showcases our uniqueness. We should also be tourists in our own country and start exploring the wonders of the Rainbow Nation.”
Mango is passionate about helping its SMEs and entrepreneurial community to successfully overcome the unique challenges facing the tourism industry: “There has never been a more opportune time for small businesses and entrepreneurs to benefit positively from tourism in South Africa, and we hope to celebrate alongside our SME community as they fly high – both literally and figuratively,” he concludes.
FNB Receives 50 Million US-Dollars To Accelerate SME Development
First National Bank puts their focus on SME development in South Africa.
First National Bank (FNB) has received 50 million US-dollars from the DEG – Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft to deploy towards small and medium enterprise (SME) development in South Africa.
DEG is a development finance institution whose mission is to promote private-sector enterprises in developing and emerging-market countries as a contribution to sustainable growth and improved living conditions.
Mike Vacy-Lyle, CEO of FNB Business says: “The new line of funding contributes to our ongoing efforts to accelerate our contribution to SME development in South Africa. We believe that SMEs are key to stimulating sustainable economic growth and job creation. Our intervention in SME development is not only limited to funding, we also invest heavily to improve capacity and supplier development capabilities in small businesses.”
FNB continues to pioneer products and services that have taken the angst out of South Africa’s entrepreneurs, from providing free instant accounting services to online documents reservation services, and forming public-private partnerships to digitise the registration of businesses.
“Our message to entrepreneurs is that we remain committed to providing meaningful solutions to help them grow. We have exciting developments that will take us further in our journey, all aimed at advancing the SME agenda by taking the anguish out of doing business,” concludes Vacy-Lyle.
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.
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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