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How to Crack Social Entrepreneurship

Ravi Naidoo, founder and managing director of Design Indaba and its founding company, Interactive Africa chats to Entrepreneur about social entrepreneurship and the Win The Right Way campaign.

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Ravi-Naidoo

Chivas Regal has begun a global search for the most promising social entrepreneurs: Those with businesses or ideas that use enterprise and innovation as a force for good.

Up for grabs is $1 million of financial assistance, global exposure for their company or idea, and support from world-famous business mentors.

To be a social entrepreneur you need to be…

Socially conscious and in touch with what is happening in your society. Social entrepreneurship essentially holds up a mirror to the issues on the ground. In South Africa we are not short of issues.

The brief for social enterprises is written for us. Unfortunately, many people don’t have the capacity to implement. We hold many talk shops – we are not short of think-tanks. We now need do-tanks.

You are the local Chivas Regal’s Win the Right Way ambassador because…

I felt it was a progressive idea from a brand that was not stuck on cheesy pics of me sipping the product. Chivas Regal recognises that the world is open to opportunity and better ways of doing things.

They are encouraging prospective entrepreneurs to step forward, and incentivising them for establishing businesses that have impact. When we launched Design Indaba 20 years ago, we were not familiar with the term ’social enterprise.’

Hopefully this campaign can launch a new generation of value creators – who create value not only for shareholders, but for society too.

To launch a social enterprise takes…

Three essential drivers, to my mind: Innovation – you need a fresh idea, or else you have parity; calculated risk-taking – be aware of downsides too; and pro-activity – speed of action is important. You need to be proactive, always on the run and putting yourself out there.

Things won’t just come to you and you’ll need to put in a lot of work to get people to believe in your project. Innovation is important. Take calculated risks. Don’t just jump in. Do your research, estimate the risk levels, and know what you are getting into.

For your social venture to mature…

You need to be a constant gardener. Don’t be complacent. When we launched Design Indaba we had 200 people attending; now we have 63 000 attendees.

We are constantly adding, refreshing and developing the festival. Every year we introduce a new element to Design Indaba. We now have a music and film festival. The website (designindaba.com) doesn’t just focus on the event but is a 24/7/365 inspiration water fountain for the intellectually curious.

The website is updated throughout the year with information that is useful and informative to everybody in the design industry and beyond. It’s grown from being more than just an annual event to an intellectual resource for designers. Entrepreneurs must embrace the idea that work is never complete, but that it’s always in beta version.

As a potential social entrepreneur, to succeed you need…

Inner drive, durability and resilience.  Its tough to get it right first time. You’ll meet people who don’t believe in your idea. Don’t surrender early. When we first launched Design Indaba, few took us seriously. Design was still thought of as frivolous and frothy – and something you only saw in glossy women’s magazines.

We had to to show design’s potency and primacy in improving the quality of life and in enhancing competitive advantage for business. And this is not a quick fix. It’s not just ’add water,’ instant gratification! It takes time. So commit to investing time too. We had to challenge that mind-set. And keep coming back.

As Interactive Africa we conceived and led the bid to host the 2006 Football World Cup – we failed. That didn’t mean we quit. We tried again and the 2010 World Cup hosted in South Africa was a result of that inner drive and not surrendering too early.

A social entrepreneur’s business plan should include…

  • Rigour. Do your research and have a strategic understanding of the terrain.
  • Go beyond what you know. The plan must be comprehensive and you need to ask yourself the hard questions before your competitors or customers do. Define your concept.  Articulate your mission and your vision.
  • Do a market analysis. Unpack your product or service and the operational plan to support it ( 4Ps essentially). Do a SWOT analysis. Work out the personnel requirements. Develop the financials and understand your funding and cash flow needs. Write an executive summary. This is your elevator pitch.

As a social entrepreneur be prepared to face these stumbling blocks…

No one took us seriously. People didn’t see the impact of design as being an agent of change. At the time everybody was scrambling for a piece of the market share.

We asked the question: Who is growing the market-cake that everyone is scrambling for? Our company was our response to growing the cake. Africa has plenty of resources but we are not leading in the production sector.

For example Ghana grows cocoa beans but doesn’t produce chocolates. We need to understand processes and production. It is gaps like these which Design Indaba aimed to bridge.

A social entrepreneur improves their odds of funding by…

The power of your idea. Also, understand the power of trade exchanges, bartering and value in kind.

Many companies are looking to make a difference – if you have a great idea that is well packaged you will get traction with them. Be creative and collaborative. Great ideas can be bootstrapped.

Advice for social entrepreneurs planning to send their business plans for Win The Right Way…

Start something that’s leveraged off your passion. Find meaning. Design Indaba feels like a calling and not a job. It’s become a theatre to enact our dreams. Create yours.

My proudest moment since launching Design Indaba was handing over keys to ten new homes – to families who had lived in shacks.

The Design Indaba 10X10 Low-Cost Housing Project aimed to create alternative solutions to housing. It was that wholesome moment that made it all worthwhile.

That’s what your business plan should do: Give you purpose beyond profit.

To find out how to enter the competition, visit www.theventure.com

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.

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Global Guide For Entrepreneurs, Innovators Launches In Johannesburg

Startup Guide partners with SAP Next-Gen, Tshimologong Precinct to bring global guidebook to Johannesburg innovation ecosystem; calls for nominations.

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Calling all entrepreneurs, accelerators, innovators, co-working spaces and experts in the City of Gold: Startup Guide, the leading global guide for start-ups in high-growth innovation hubs in Europe, the US and Middle East, is open to nominations in Johannesburg.

Founded in 2014, Startup Guide is a creative content and publishing company that produces guidebooks and tools to help entrepreneurs to connect to communities and resources in the leading start-up cities around the world. Its global footprint covers some of the most innovative and thriving start-up ecosystems in the US, Europe and the Middle East, including those of London, New York, Berlin, Tel Aviv, and Stockholm. After launching in Cape Town earlier in the year, Startup Guide now moves to Johannesburg.

According to Sissel Hansen, Founder and CEO of Startup Guide, South Africa’s largest city is emerging as a key innovation hub for start-ups.

“Johannesburg has recently emerged as a growing ecosystem for start-ups and entrepreneurs in Africa, particularly in the tech industry. We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to create a comprehensive guide of resources for aspiring founders wanting to do business in South Africa’s largest city.”

Startup Guide Johannesburg was launched at Wits University’s Tshimologong Precinct, one of Johannesburg’s newest high-tech addresses in the vibrant inner-city district of Braamfontein. Tshimologong, which means “new beginnings” in Setswana, focuses on the incubation of digital entrepreneurs, commercialisation of research and the development of high-level digital skills for students, working professionals and unemployed youth. Lesley Williams, CEO of Tshimologong Precinct, says: “South Africa is fast-becoming a go-to source for innovation, especially in the tech sector. We believe the introduction of a dedicated resource for the startup ecosystem in Johannesburg will unlock significant opportunities for innovation hubs such as ours to more easily connect with entrepreneurs, experts and other roleplayers, ultimately providing a more supportive environment for growth.”

Related: Watch List: 50 Top SA Black Entrepreneurs To Watch

Startup Guide has partnered with SAP Next-Gen, a purpose driven innovation university and community for the SAP ecosystem enabling companies, partners and universities to connect and innovate with purpose linked to the UN Sustainable Goals for Development. Ann Rosenberg, Senior Vice President and Head of Global SAP Next-Gen says:

“We strive to connect digital innovators in an open innovation community to drive the future success and growth of industries through the use of technology. As we have witnessed in other high-innovation cities around the world, the introduction of knowledge resources – supported by opportunities for collaboration and partnership in an open ecosystem – enhances the overall success of entire start-up communities. Johannesburg’s world-famous energy and business acumen will greatly benefit from the launch of Startup Guide Johannesburg and the support of industry partners, including SAP Next-Gen and the Tshimologong Precinct.”

Cathy Smith, Managing Director of SAP Africa, adds that the partnership with Startup Guide aligns well with the company’s commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. “As an organisation we are committed to achieving the high ambitions set out by the SDGs. However, it is virtually impossible to do so alone: the concept of partnership with likeminded purpose-driven organisations and initiatives is vital not only to realising the SDGs but to foster a greater and more inclusive innovation ecosystem in Johannesburg and across the African continent.”

Nominations for the Johannesburg edition of Startup Guide are now open. If you know a start-up, entrepreneur, programme, space, accelerator, or experts and would like to see them featured in the book, please visit https://startupguide.com/shop/startup-guide-johannesburg and submit your nomination.

Visit the SAP News Center. Follow SAP on Twitter at @sapnews.

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Entrepreneur Today

Aspirations For SMMEs In South Africa

Research released earlier this year, revealed that there are only 250 000 formal SMMEs in South Africa.

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Entrepreneurs who have started up a business over the past 10 years have done so in an environment that has been largely negative, with slow economic growth and an unstable political landscape. “So, all in all, a very difficult setting to launch, grow or even maintain a business,” says Bizmod MD, Anne-Marie Pretorius.

Pretorius says that many entrepreneurs who operate in South Africa can be forgiven for often wondering if the slog is worth it. Yet they continue – despite economic uncertainty, strikes, retrenchments and downscaling.  “It is this tenacity that sets entrepreneurs apart, and I often wonder how much more successful they would be in an easier and more supportive environment.”

Below, Pretorius shares her ideal pro-entrepreneur outlook for the future:

  • Greater policy certainty on all key government policies from land reform to regulations surrounding labour broking.
  • Being able to do away with bad policy faster. An example of where this did not happen was in the changes of visa requirements; leading to an unnecessary dent in our tourism industry, an industry that should be targeted for growth.
  • Lower compliance requirements for companies with a turnover under R50 million. The cost of compliance for smaller enterprises is significantly higher in comparison to their income and the cash they have available. Smaller companies need simpler frameworks where compliance is required. A portal similar to SARS e-filing, which makes compliance across various pieces of legislation clear and simple, would be ideal.
  • The Labour Relations Act is a key piece of legislation that has done a lot to protect the rights of the employee. It has attempted to balance the power relationship between employee and employer. Some innovation is however required in labour practices, allowing for mutually beneficial flexible working relationships that keep pace with the changing work environment.
  • Buy small, buy South African! A framework whereby large corporations and government would have to allocate a certain minimum percentage to buying from smaller local companies. There are encouraging signs that this is happening more, however this is still not an ingrained practice. In addition, consumers should be more informed on what items are South African produced, in order for them to be encouraged to purchase locally.
  • Easier access to funds enabling entrepreneurs to grow their businesses. There are currently a few options available, but all of the options require significant governance and red tape. Whilst this is understandable from the lenders perspective, it does hamper the agility and growth of companies.
  • Make good financial governance aspirational, attractive and easily accessible.
  • The process for tenders to be corruption free and fair, enabling more companies to add value.
  • Pay SMME’s on 30 days or less. Enormous pressure exists on smaller companies when not paid on time. They simply do not have the cash flow to carry a debtor’s book of 90 days and this inevitably hampers their growth.
  • Tax SMME’s at a lower tax rate. Profit tax should be lowered in order to drive entrepreneurship.
  • Creating a platform that makes it simpler to employ young individuals with potential and create support programmes for SMMEs to upskill them. There is a significant financial and time investment required to train a young person, which can make SMME’s sometimes wary to do so.

“If we are able to make only some of these ideals a reality, there is no doubt that we would see economic growth, entrepreneurial growth, and more employment opportunities,” concludes Pretorius.

Related: A – Z Easy Small Business Ideas

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South African Students Win R50 000 In The Universities Business Challenge

Students from Mangosuthu University of Technology beat 500 students from 13 different universities across South Africa.

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The Overlings from Mangosuthu University of Technology are the 2018 winners of Cognity Advisory’s Universities Business Challenge (UBC), sponsored by General Electric (GE). The winning team of four students are walking away with R50,000 to turn their business idea into reality.

Launched in July this year, the UBC has seen 500 students from 13 different universities across South Africa participate in a business simulation competition designed to develop entrepreneurship skills.

When the competition launched, all teams were challenged to form virtual companies and to virtually manufacture and sell bicycles.

The final 10 teams were from the University of Limpopo, Mangosuthu University of Technology, Vaal University of Technology, University of KwaZulu-Natal and North-West University.

During the two-day final, the teams played six rounds of simulations. Each simulation gave the teams a chance to re-evaluate their progress and better certain areas that needed improving. The winning team realised during one of their simulations that in order to maximise profits they would need to introduce two new products and market it differently from their initial product. They paid special attention to their customer’s needs. 

The aim of the UBC was designed to tackle South Africa’s high level of youth unemployment. Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) announced that South Africa’s official unemployment rate increased by 0.3 of a percentage point to 27.5% in the third quarter of 2018.

Nkosinathi Sokhulu from the winning team said, “Even though we didn’t have a great presentation we made the most profit. This experience taught us a lot about ourselves and business. Most of the decisions that we made came from serious debates. We learnt that market research is crucial when starting a business. We learnt that marketing starts and ends with the customer.”

Related: 20 South African Side-Hustles You Can Start This Weekend

“Based on this market research information we realised that it was important for us to introduce two new products and this, in addition to the main product we were selling, helped us to maximise profits. We saw an opportunity to add more products and it paid off” said Mbali Tshozi.

Tope Toogun, development advisor and CEO of Cognity Advisory said, “All the teams showed tremendous promise and I was very impressed by their levels of engagement with one another and their tenacity.”

“We really want to ensure that students are equipped with the necessary skills to not only start a business but to run it effectively. While we have selected one winner, our hope is that each team has benefitted by having learned the skills needed in the workplace.”

“The competition is designed to develop the ‘soft skills’ that are important for those wanting to set up their own business or simply be successful at work. With rising unemployment and ongoing talent shortages, having these skills is crucial for those wanting to get a job.”

The UBC, now in its second year in South Africa, will continue into its third year in 2019 and will run as the Africa Enterprise Challenge (AEC).

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