“First I was afraid; I was petrified” … Gloria Gaynor certainly did not have entrepreneurs in mind when she sang these words, in her classic disco hit “I will survive”. But the opening words of the song could very well describe the feelings of most entrepreneurs when they first begin pitching their business to potential investors and clients.
Fear is certainly the order of the day. However, like Gaynor, survival is also the order of the day and entrepreneurs who are unable to master the art of the pitch are unlikely to master the art of survival.
In fact, having overcome the fear, and having moved past being petrified, successful entrepreneurs become addicted to pitching. How, one may ask, is it possible to become a pitch-addict?
Like any healthy addiction, such as to exercise, practice makes perfect. One cannot become a ‘pitch-addict’ until one has moved through the fear of pitching. Becoming a pitch addict requires you to actually pitch – often!
The mirror is a good place to start, followed by the 3 Fs, friends, family and fools (i.e. anyone who will listen!). And even if the 3Fs in your life do not actually invest, the experience you will have gained in pitching to them, over and over, is immeasurable.
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It is the first step on the path to addiction. And then it’s time for the real world! Bankers, investors, venture capitalists and, of course, potential clients.
The way you become a pitch addict is simply to breathe deeply and to tell yourself that no matter what feedback you get, you will find a way to use it to your advantage. You tell yourself that you will handle the feedback, no matter how hard it may be to hear.
In this way, you build your resilience to handle feedback. It is a virtuous cycle: the more feedback you get, the better you get; the better you get, the more courage you gain to pitch.
The fear never truly goes away. Even the most seasoned pitchers feel fear before they pitch their business. The pitch addicts are simply not letting fear get in the way! The more you say ‘yes’ to every opportunity to pitch, the more likely you are to become a pitch addict.
Suddenly, you will feel your fear turning into excitement. There is a ‘rush’ that accompanies the pitch – it is this rush to which pitch addicts become addicted.
“Just before the final pitch I was so nervous, and once on the stage the immense preparation helped me deliver a polished pitch.” says Murendeni Mafumo, the winner of ENGEN Pitch & Polish 2016, receiving R60 000 on the night.
“And once I’m done, and I know that I have faced my fear and conquered it, I am open to whatever feedback comes my way!” he adds.
“After winning, I feel grateful for the validation of my dreams.” Murendeni, who lives in Fourways, Johannesburg, won the judges over with his pitch on his existing business, Kusini Water, which uses technology developed to treat water. Murendeni’s love for science was sparked when he received a science set, as a present, when he was very young.
Related: How To Pitch An Investor
As his scientific knowledge grew, so too did his passion to make a positive difference in his community. Today, he ensures that people, specifically in rural areas, have clean drinking water.
“I thought I knew about business, but ENGEN Pitch & Polish has given me even more skills to grow my business beyond my wildest dreams!” says Murendeni.
It is important, however, to curb your addiction. A balance between working on your business, and talking about your business is essential. It is also crucial to be a discerning addict. Do your homework first. If there is something to be gained from the pitch, go for it!
The 2016 ENGEN Pitch & Polish programme, which was hosted by Engen Petroleum Ltd, Nedbank, Raizcorp and SAfm, culminated in an exclusive and prestigious event, held in Johannesburg. Alan Shannon, Head of Small Business and Professional Banking at Nedbank, expressed his enthusiasm by saying:
“Pitch & Polish is the perfect fit for Nedbank as we firmly believe that small business is the driver of the economy and employment. We believe in elevating and developing entrepreneurs, which is exactly what this programme does.”
In 2nd place overall in the national competition is Rishav Juglall, from the Durban event. He won R30 000 on the night. This young and dynamic entrepreneur, absorbed all the lessons of the ENGEN Pitch & Polish workshops, and it showed and paid off!
Rishav’s existing business, Rocky Brands, specialises in an array of high quality household cleaning products. As the youngest supplier to one of the largest retailers in South Africa, Rishav’s determination and ambition did not go unnoticed by the judges.
Rishav aspires to export his products all over Africa. His confidence gives him the ability to pitch extremely well, and with the added guidance from ENGEN Pitch & Polish, Rishav is sure to go very far with his business.
The Port Elizabeth contestant, and third-place winner in the finals, Billy Siziba, winning R15 000 on the night, grew up in a family of entrepreneurs. He is elated to be continuing the family tradition of self-employment and sustainability. His existing business, Bullyz Fitness, manufactures and sells gym clothing.
“Gym fees are high,” says Billy. “If you add the cost of gym clothes to that, gym becomes unaffordable for many people.” Bullyz Fitness aims to give people of all shapes and sizes, from all walks of life, access to professional gym clothes. Ever the entrepreneur, Billy is also working on an app that will help them to get, and stay, fit. No doubt the invaluable experience he has gained in ENGEN Pitch & Polish will serve him well as he expands his business to even greater heights.
Now in its seventh year, Engen Petroleum has been a sponsor since 2012. At the beginning of this year’s competition, Unathi Njokweni-Magida Engen’s Group Transformation Manager, said that she was expecting big things this year, “7 is a magic number,” she said. And she was right.
She continues, “This year’s competition has exceeded all my expectations, from the quality of the contestants to the aliveness of the audience, as well as the professionalism of the judges. As the headline sponsor, we could not have asked for more.”
Njokweni-Magida’s enthusiasm is backed up by the facts. This year, the competition hit record numbers with 2 300 entrepreneurs participating in the workshops.
The programme has been so successful that it caught the eye of Business Day TV which commissioned Pitch & Polish for a 10-week TV series which began in October 2016.
ENGEN Pitch & Polish’s power is truly in the pitch which produces a ripple-effect of success for entrepreneurs, and attracts opportunities for change and growth.
In the group photograph from left to right:
- Alan Shannon (Nedbank)
- Billy Siziba (3rd place, from Port Elizabeth)
- Murendeni Mafumo (Winner, from Johannesburg)
- Shirley Moroka-Mosia (Engen)
- Rishav Juglall (2nd place, from Durban)
- Allon Raiz (Raizcorp)
For more information, visit www.pitchandpolish.com
SMMEs So Much Focus On Funding, But What About Skills
A study by StatsSA which surveyed households and obtained evidence relating to skills development and unemployment between 1994 and 2014 showed the following.
I think we can all agree that the funding of small businesses is only part of the solution. What is possibly more important (as an enabler) is the initial assessment of the level and adequacy of skills existing within new or developing enterprises and to evaluate what further skills development or training is required to ensure a firm business foundation and sustainable growth is achieved.
A study by StatsSA which surveyed households and obtained evidence relating to skills development and unemployment between 1994 and 2014 showed the following:
- During this time frame across the South African working population of households there was an increase in skilled labour (21% to 25%), with a shift away from semi and low-skilled labour.
- What is interesting to note in the growth of skilled labour is the disparity within the different race groups.
*For the purpose of this analysis, the occupation types were used to infer skills levels based on the Quarterly Labour Force Survey. Skilled: manager, professional, technical. Semi-skilled: sales and services, clerk, machine operator. Low-skilled: domestic worker.
This is clear evidence that the role of enterprise and supplier development is a crucial one needed to up-skill and train the broader population. It is one thing to provide finance and access to markets, but without the appropriate skills development to make these investments sustainable is would be a fruitless exercise.
The role that the private sector plays in post investment business support and capacity building is incredibly important. There is a requirement to build both technical skills as well as overall business management skills. This in my view is when we will start seeing real impact. In order for the enterprises to be effective in the contracts that they are awarded a focus on skills development (by both parties) is required.
In an economy where growth has crawled to a near halt, SMMEs cannot be expected to be the holy-grail for job creation. Making an impact in increasing the potential salary earning or employable workforce is key and therefore skills development requires a multi-faceted approach:
- From early education phase – where emphasis must be placed at school level for entrepreneurship training and opportunities is a key enabler. Entrepreneurship should in essence become a career option to consider. Innovation must be incubated. The world is changing and the skills required to be productive are changing as well.
- Clear regulations and commitment to quality interventions should be stipulated at policy level to incentivise skills development/ skills transfer from large corporates to small businesses.
- Without looking at the bigger picture these developmental areas are without support – so a holistic approach to skills development – mentorship, networking and overall business acumen are skills that often distinguish between those who do well and those who don’t in business. It needs to all work harmoniously and as an effective and efficient ecosystem reliant on each other’s strengths and support and mutually beneficial objectives.
At the end of the day, an enterprise should leave an ESD programme empowered to stand and survive in the business world. We know that we are losing the challenge when time and time again we see developing enterprises moving from one ESD programme to another with nothing to show for it. Monitoring and evaluation of these enterprises is therefore also essential to track growth and success – but also to identify areas of weakness or need for further intervention.
At the heart of ESD is the notion that larges businesses/ corporates should move beyond compliance (aka box-ticking) and toward the heart of transformation. Intertwined here is the responsibility to use development interventions and activities in a deliberate and focused manner so that the skills level in small businesses can move upwards and ensure the longevity and success of growing enterprises.
Become The Number One Pitch Hustler With The ENGEN Pitch & Polish Programme
The ENGEN Pitch & Polish programme, hosted by Engen Petroleum Ltd and Nedbank, powered by Raizcorp and supported by national media partner, Caxton Local Media, is based on teaching entrepreneurs to present a winning pitch that is clear and focused.
The word “hustle” comes from a Dutch word that means “to shake things up”. Traditionally, the English word “hustler” was used to describe a dishonest person, who would do anything to make money. Hustling is, however, no longer a dirty word; nowadays, a hustler is someone who makes things happen. Hustling is about movement, activity and shaking things up in a positive way – the very things that entrepreneurs need to succeed!
Successful hustlers exist everywhere, and all entrepreneurs have much to learn from those who have mastered the art of the hustle! Whether they are building a business, selling a product or offering a service, hustlers focus on their goal and do whatever it takes to achieve the goal. Hustlers put in the hours and don’t waste time doing things that don’t contribute to their success in some way.
Hustlers grab every opportunity to pitch their business to potential funders and clients. They are seasoned pitch artists, and having secured the opportunity to pitch, know exactly what they want to say. Hustlers present a polished pitch! For this reason, the ENGEN Pitch & Polish programme, hosted by Engen Petroleum Ltd and Nedbank, powered by Raizcorp and supported by national media partner, Caxton Local Media, is based on teaching entrepreneurs to present a winning pitch that is clear and focused.
Related: What Type Of Pitcher Are You?
“With us you are number one”, the headline sponsor Engen’s slogan, could just as easily apply to the hustler’s attitude towards his clients and business. Hustlers put their clients first. Their elevator pitch is ready to go and hustlers, always thinking on their feet, can adapt their pitch to meet the needs of different audiences.
Nedbank, a co-sponsor of ENGEN Pitch & Polish, encourages people to “make your money hustle for you”. Hustlers know how to do this. They think carefully about their pricing model, know how to calculate profit, and make their money work for them!
Hustlers do not give up when they hear “no”. They see rejection as an opportunity to be overcome, not a roadblock. At ENGEN Pitch & Polish, entrepreneurs are subjected to many “no’s” as they learn to perfect their pitches. Those who learn to use this feedback to their advantage – are the hustlers!
The pitch that was delivered from the heart, with the greatest ease, confidence, and precision – as well as energy and enthusiasm – were the qualities that caught the eye of the judges, and resulted in Bruce Diale, from Polokwane, winning the 2017 ENGEN Pitch and Polish programme, at an exclusive and prestigious event, held in Johannesburg, on 30th November. Bruce’s Agri-consulting business has developed, and patented, Gardenizly, an innovative vegetable gardening product, which is both water and space efficient.
This was not the only reason for his victory. “We chose Bruce as this year’s winner,” says Joe Mahlo, GM for Sales and Marketing, from Engen Petroleum Ltd, who was one of this year’s judges, “because he was clear on the value that his product and business will add to his clients and, indeed, to the world.” This is yet another indispensable quality of the hustler. Watch this space. A hustler has been born!
Second place was awarded to Refilwe Matsaneng, from Welkom, for her hair products business, GloLooks. Third place went to Renschia Manuel, from Cape Town, for her portable urban veggie growing boxes, GrowBox, business.
“It’s intimidating and unnerving to ask for money,” says Grace Govender, Head of New Business and Support for Relationship Banking, Nedbank. “To overcome this, entrepreneurs must focus on being properly prepared and authentic.”
To further help the entrepreneurs, Caxton Local Media, with over 140 publications, whose roots, too, are deeply embedded in the country, awarded the winner with R20,000 in advertising. “Caxton is firmly established in, and supportive of, local communities in South Africa and the partnership with ENGEN Pitch & Polish, along with Engen, Nedbank and Raizcorp, is a natural fit. We all believe in building small business, from grassroots up,” explains Dejane Poil, Head of Innovation at Caxton.
There was magic on the night as esteemed guests offered these three entrepreneurs further opportunities for growth and expansion.
ENGEN Pitch & Polish’s power lies in its ability to identify, through their pitch, the entrepreneurs that are number one hustlers. “These are the entrepreneurs who demonstrate the ambition to excel and the motivation to put in the work,” says Allon Raiz, the originator of the Pitch & Polish concept, now in its eighth year of identifying entrepreneurs who truly understand what it means to up the hustle!
For more information, visit www.pitchandpolish.com.
R33 Million Available In SME Grant Funding
The Craft + Design Institute (CDI) has launched three funds to support the growth, job creation and innovation of SME’s.
The Craft + Design Institute (CDI) has raised R33 million to establish three funds to support SME growth – a Growth Fund, a Design Innovation Seed Fund and a Loan Book. These three funds will be managed by the investment arm, CDI Capital.
“In most countries, SMEs play a vital role as drivers of economic growth, innovation and job creation, but in South Africa this value is yet to be properly realised. To achieve this, the challenges experienced by SMEs need to be addressed, namely access to markets, finance and credit, infrastructure, resources for R&D, and access to adequately skilled and work ready labour,” explains Erica Elk, Executive Director of the CDI.
The funding’s aim is to create 60 growth-orientated SME’s and 20 innovation technological solutions, which in turn will create 600 permanent jobs over the course of three years.
“We have put a significant amount of work into developing these offerings, not only ensuring good governance and appropriate monitoring and evaluation measures, but realising real and sustainable impact with the businesses we support. We are excited to have raised R33 million to launch this new funding for SMEs, and we thank our funders and supporters – we look forward to making meaningful investments,” says Elk.
The Growth Fund
The Growth Fund is targeted at business with a turnover of assets of more than R1 million, with the ability to create permanent jobs. Applications for this fund open on the 27th November and close on the 31st of December 2017.
The Growth Fund invites SME’s that are experiencing growth or equipped for expansion and able to create sustainable quality jobs to apply for grant funding.
Criteria for the Growth Fund
- Controlling interest in the business (51%) must be a South African citizen with valid South African Identity Document or legal entities controlled by South African citizens with valid South African Identity Documents or permanent residents who hold a valid RSA ID document.
- All business operations must be conducted within the borders of South Africa.
- Must be an existing business, preference will be given to businesses that have been trading for two years or more. The business should operate in the craft, design and light manufacturing sectors, but other industries will also be considered.
- The business will need a turnover or assets of more than R1 million and a willingness to create permanent employment. It must demonstrate year-on-year growth and/or the potential for sufficient growth, while being tax compliant.
- The applicants business will need to create one permanent employee job per grant investment of R21 000 and prepared to contribute an additional 20% of the grant amount in cash to be used in the business.
For more information and further criteria visit here.
The Design Innovation Seed Fund
The Design Innovation Seed Fund is open to investors who have protectable innovative technological solutions that can impact specific sectors and create permanent employment. Applications for this fund open on the 27th of November and close on the 31st of December 2017.
This fund is available to individuals and SME’s with pre-revenue innovative technology and tech-enabled ideas and products within specific sectors to apply.
Criteria for the Design Innovation Seed Fund
- Western Cape based early-stage SME’s/entrepreneurs/researchers.
- Students at Western Cape tertiary institutions where the institution doesn’t have an Intellectual Property claim to the product/service. Please consult institution’s Intellectual Property policy.
- Pre-revenue businesses in incubation or entering incubation or existing SMEs with new products/innovation that is still pre-revenue.
Sector focus 2018/2019:
- Water Conservation
- Alternative Building Materials
- Wild Card* (*projects outside these sectors can be considered).
How to Apply for Funding
Click here for more on the criteria and further information visit here.
In addition to the grant funds, CDI Capital is also launching a R3.5 million working capital and term loan facility as reduced rates for the entire three year project. This will provide access to cash flow during the growth stages of SME’s that qualify for these funds and others.
For more information visit CDI Capital.
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