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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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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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Surge In South Africans Swopping Their Cars For Bitcoin

The cryptocurrency Bitcoin has experienced a seemingly interminable rise. Early adopters have experience lottery-sized pay-outs on minor investments as the currency exploded in value in 2017.

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The cryptocurrency Bitcoin has experienced a seemingly interminable rise. Early adopters have experience lottery-sized pay-outs on minor investments as the currency exploded in value in 2017.

As South Africans are itching to get their hands on the digital currency, there’s been an increase in swops and bitcoin-only sales on Gumtree.co.za, says Claire Cobbledick, Head of Core at Gumtree. “This is particularly true for high-value items like cars, bikes and boats. Many sellers are willing to take a gamble with their assets in hopes of a large pay-out.”

This is on trend with other marketplaces. In the United States a McLaren 720S was put up for sale in exchange for 25 bitcoin, a theoretical value of $425,000.

Related: 11 Things You Need To Know About Bitcoin

While Gumtree does not allow for the sale of bitcoin miners or services, Cobbledick says that customers can exchange goods for bitcoin on the site, but should be fully aware of the risks. “Bitcoin is a volatile currency, so while you could easily see a 50% increase in your investment, you could just as easily end up with nothing. It’s up to the seller to decide if they are willing and able to take a gamble.”

Some cars currently up for sale in exchange for bitcoin includes a Land Rover Defender, BMW X5 and a rare 1970 Mercury Cougar V8.

“There are also a few other sellers accepting bitcoin in exchange for Kruger Rands,” says Cobbledick. “Perhaps proving that gold as a store of value is falling out of vogue.”

But the most unusual swop would have to go to an entrepreneurial seller who is offering carnivorous plants in exchange for the cryptocurrency.

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Zando Sold 80 Items A Minute During Black Friday – By Doing This

Black Friday has brought immense success for numerous local online retailers – reflecting the potential of e-commerce in South Africa. Why not learn from Zando’s success in 2017 to ensure your success during the 2018 Black Friday sales season?

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For South African e-retailers, Black Friday is a big sales event. But you need to ensure you’re prepared for the web traffic and that your e-commerce store can handle the logistics of thousands of orders.

zando-sascha-breussAccording to Zando, they experience 100% up-time during Black Friday and less than a week after the season sales event, 95% of customer orders have already been shipped.

To help fellow e-tailers perform better next year, Zando’s CEO, Sascha Breuss answers some key questions about the company’s preparations and learnings around Black Friday:

1. How did you encourage greater sales on Black Friday?

Over the last few years Black Friday has developed a following in South Africa, so we benefitted from the existing hype around it. We didn’t focus too much on upfront marketing, but put our energy into flawless execution and of course great deals for the customers.

Related: The Evolution Of Retail: From Corner Store To Artificial Intelligence

2. How much planning went into ensuring your store platform ran at optimum?

The real ‘hot phase’ started with the first day of November when our IT department went into a ‘feature freeze’ and we focused 100% on site-stability and scalability.

We went through some intense testing of our site with loads up to 15 times the average daily amount of visitors. So, when the actual day came, we were confident in our systems.

3. How were you able to successfully co-ordinate logistics during Black Friday?

Early preparation and experience from past years have been the key to success. We increased our head count in both Warehouse and Customer Service well in advance so that we could rely on well-trained and experienced colleagues come Black Friday.

4. How did you ensure a seamless experience between your website and your app?

We know that our customers are browsing Zando on all platforms, desktop, mobile and app so we implemented some handy features to make the transition between each platform easier. For example, shared baskets and wish lists are now a feature. Some of the deals however have been app-only and sometimes we reward our app users with early access to shop the best deals. So it is definitely worth it to download our app.

Related: How SA’s Online Retailers Can Cash In On Black Friday Fever

5. How did you scale your entire operation for a single event?

This is easy to summarise in one word – TEAMWORK. The Zando staff did an amazing job and were the backbone of our success. Not only did they put the required extra hours in and worked hard until the job was done, but they also showed real team-spirit. When you called our Customer Service during Black Friday it’s very possible that you spoke to someone in our HR, Social Media or Legal team who helped out answering calls.

6. How did your marketing campaign affect traffic on your platforms?

The most surprising element was probably the high volume of traffic that we saw during the night. Visits started to increase every minute before midnight and during the first two hours of the day we saw peaks that were higher than on our strongest week day. This traffic never dropped with a lot of orders being placed between 2am and 3am on Black Friday.

7. How did your technology systems handle the influx of shopper traffic?

In the build up to Black Friday we added additional server capacity and changed the way we handled the flow of traffic. This made us very flexible to switch on additional capacity wherever required. So it was a combination of intensive preparation, close monitoring and ultimately very little sleep for a couple of days to ensure we monitored our system health 24 hours a day.

8. What was your sales strategy?

For us everything that had a discount of 40%-80%, and was still a relevant and recent look, qualified for Black Friday 2017. Once these criteria were fulfilled we made sure that we had sufficient stock available – in some cases the demand was so high that we brought on additional stock from our suppliers during the Black Friday weekend.

Related: 5 Last-Minute Tips For Small Retailers To Boost Black Friday Sales

9. What were your biggest learnings?

We have been very successful in our approach to remain true to the idea of Black Friday – offering great deals on relevant product and not outdated clearance ranges. The customer is very educated and will identify a good deal, and we have seen consumers’ negative comments on stores who used Black Friday solely as a warehouse clearance opportunity.

10. What surprised you about Zando’s success during Black Friday?

Thanks to extensive preparation we have been able to achieve an uptime of 100% for the full month of November. We also kept the deliveries and returns 100% free regardless of discount or basket size. It seems like our customers appreciated this approach and we have actually seen very positive sales numbers after Black Friday while we expected a drop. I believe the full focus and investment on the Customer Experience has worked for us.

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Team Resolutions: 11 Tips To Uncover Passion And Potential In New Hires

If there’s one resolution HR departments should make this new year, it should be to transform the onboarding experience for new hires.

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If there’s one resolution HR departments should make this new year, it should be to transform the onboarding experience for new hires says Michelle Seko, Talent Acquisition Manger at Sage Africa & Middle East.

The importance of a good candidate experience cannot be underestimated. Research has shown that 88% of job applicants are more likely to buy from a company if they’ve had a positive experience when applying for work there. Research has also shown that candidates talk about their experiences with a company, regardless of whether they got the job. Some candidates would even refer a friend to the company and others will re-apply for a future role, if the experience was a good one.

Research also found that:

Related: Why You Should (Seriously) Stop Hiring People

Win-win

Businesses enter into a relationship with a new hire the moment they sign on the dotted line. And, as with any relationship, it will only flourish if built on trust, respect and a commitment to self-improvement.

When you set new hires up for personal success, the outcomes naturally feed into your business’ success, which means you both win.

Here are a few ideas to get the most out of your new hires:

Make them feel welcome

Introduce them to the people they’ll be working with as soon as possible so that they immediately feel part of a team. At Sage, we partner new hires with a buddy, or Sage Ambassador, who helps them settle in and meet new people, contributing to the positive on-boarding experience.

Focus on the benefits

Compelling benefits not only attract the best candidates but also boost loyalty and job satisfaction. People are motivated by different things: one person might value flexi-time while another could place more importance on growth opportunities or bonuses. Focus on the benefits that align with the individual’s values when onboarding.

Set goals early and outline a plan to achieve them

This keeps your team focused, especially if they will be rewarded for achieving their goals.

Assess performance

Monthly, at least. Adjust goals and plans where necessary, reward good performance, introduce new challenges and deal with issues promptly.

Show genuine interest

Regular catch-ups and remembering children’s names, for instance, makes people feel appreciated.

Empower them

Let your new hires apply their knowledge to business challenges and offer training opportunities outside of their comfort zones. Reward ideas that help you do things better and faster.

Related: Hiring The Right Person Is Critical When Growing A Business

Encourage collaboration

People thrive when they can learn from others and when they can share their knowledge. Involve experienced team members in the new hire’s training. This is a great way to recognise and appreciate their loyalty and skills.

Be transparent

Do you have difficult clients? Will the new hire have to work overtime? What are the business’s goals? New hires should know what they’re getting into.

Provide solid training on everything from company culture and benefits, to opportunities for growth

The biggest cost associated with training people is the time it takes for them to become productive. But rushing through on-the-job training could lead to a host of other problems, including repeated mistakes and a lack of confidence.

Openly communicate any changes in the business

Manage your team’s expectations and be clear about yours. Allow new hires to question and understand how you do things and to point out errors – their past experience probably gave them new ideas and ways of working that could boost your team’s efficiency and productivity.

Be upbeat

Your mood sets the tone for everyone else. You can have the best product in the world but unless your team is passionate and enthusiastic about that product, you won’t get the results you’re hoping for.

Keeping people motivated and productive is hard work

But if you provide them with the tools, knowledge and support to do their best work and to contribute their best ideas, motivation and productivity will come naturally.

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