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Opening An International Business In SA – Renny Letswalo Shares Her Story

Renny Letswalo, a successful black female entrepreneur who has established the Cambridge Weight Plan franchise in Southern Africa, shares her entrepreneurial journey as well as pearls of wisdom with other entrepreneurs.

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Renny Letswalo’s first entrepreneurial venture was opening a guest house and mobile Thai Spa in her late 30’s. “I realised my entrepreneurial muscle later in life, but despite the late start, I am excited to keep learning,” says Letswalo. Her latest business venture as health and lifestyle coach and managing director of Cambridge Weight Plan Southern Africa was born out of her passion to help others be their best.

“When I struggled with my weight and health, I looked around for solutions and couldn’t find any that really could help. I was then introduced to Cambridge Weight Plan by a colleague who had just gone through a transformation themselves. I then went through the program, and it really helped me deal with my health and weight problems. When I realised that there is a solution that doesn’t only give you hope but is effective and delivers real results, I became a consultant for Cambridge Weight Plan and later then decided to re-establish the business in Southern Africa,” says Letswalo.

Letswalo’s vision is to help a million men and women overcome obesity and fulfill their potential for holistic health and wellness.  Letswalo’s plans also involve using her weight and health company as a vehicle to develop skills for young South African’s to start and operate sustainable businesses. Cambridge Weight Plan Southern Africa invites young individuals who wish to operate their own Cambridge Weight Plan Centre, to apply for the partnership opportunity. These individuals will be provided with support, skills and tools to kick start a successful business operation.

Renny has had extensive corporate experience over 25 years, up to executive management level, in a variety of industries from the motor industry, to clothing retail, financial services and oil & energy, in major companies such as VW, Edgars, Absa and BP. She has excelled in retail operations, marketing and business management as well as people development. Her experience in all these areas gives her an in-depth knowledge and skills to develop a business model that young South Africans can use to establish a successful sustainable small business.

Related: [Infographic] The World’s Most Influential Female Entrepreneurs

The journey so far

For Letswalo, the journey has been about small beginnings. She is re-establishing Cambridge Weight Plan Southern Africa from ground zero and would like to see it grow exponentially, not only in South Africa but in neighboring countries.

“Even with a few hurdles that I’ve had to overcome when establishing the business, I see more opportunities everyday”, says Renny Letswalo.

What keeps you motivated?

“I am glad to wake up every day with my vision of helping millions to be healthy while also assisting young people develop their businesses,” says Letswalo.

I have also been motivated by all the other entrepreneurs who run Cambridge Weight Plan in their various countries, who shows me that a small business can be made sustainable success.

Which entrepreneurs do you look up to and why?

“I look up to people like Richard Brandon who always shows us that they started brands like Virgin from small beginnings and kept on going; and have taken many steps and risks to grow their different ventures. I also look up to entrepreneurs who are not know but in the little fields and corners make a difference to others and provide solutions to people, while they feed themselves and their families,” adds Letswalo.

The greatest lessons learnt

Letswalo believes vision and focus have been her biggest learnings. “You need to take little steps everyday towards your vision. No matter how difficult, just take the step even if you don’t see results now, take the step.” Letswalo is clear that she is realistic about the challenges that still lie ahead.  

Words of wisdom for other entrepreneurs

Letswalo advises other entrepreneurs not to embark on the journey alone but to rather learn from others and seek their advice. She also recommends seeking out the help of a coach. “There are number of people that are my mentors, from my friends that are woman entrepreneurs to other entrepreneurs that have made it big as well as start-ups still trying to establish their businesses,” Letswalo also follows the lives of other entrepreneurs for inspiration.

Related: Watch List: 50 Black African Women Entrepreneurs To Watch

What in your opinion makes an entrepreneur successful?

Letswalo believes there are 5 main things that she has learnt from other successful entrepreneurs that she applies in her life.

  1. Pursue a business that you passionate about, something you truly believe you are called for. Something that you love that even when the chips are down you won’t give in. You must be clear what that is and clearly develop this as your life mission.
  2. Learn everything about your field of business and make yourself an expert in that field and the related parts of that business.
  3. Apply what you learn everyday
  4. Measure the application of your leanings through results
  5. Repeat the learning, application and measurement – again, again and again. 

We all have opportunities to create jobs and improve our standard of living,” says Letswalo.

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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Top Sectors For SMEs In 2019

“As such, SMEs in the construction, communications and electrical fields are all likely to benefit from supply and sub-contracting agreements over the coming years.”

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While the South African economy has been underperforming for a number of years, the first positive signs of turnaround started to become visible by the second quarter of 2018, and by the end of the third quarter, data supplied by Statistics South Africa showed that the economy had indeed grown by 2.2 percent, compared to the previous quarter. This uptick is expected to have a positive effect on business confidence in 2019.

This is according to Jeremy Lang, regional general manager at Business Partners Limited (BUSINESS/PARTNERS), who says that certain business sectors have already seen an increase in opportunities for small businesses and start-ups.

“While these sectors will not be without challenges, the following four industries are likely to offer the best opportunities for small and medium enterprise (SME) owners to grow their enterprises in the coming year.”

Tourism

The World Travel and Tourism report 2018, revealed that the direct contribution of the travel and tourism sector to South Africa’s GDP has been projected to rise from R136bn in 2016 to R197.9bn by 2028 – set to make up a total of 3.3 percent of the country’s total GDP, says Lang.

“Although this sector experienced some setbacks in 2018, such as the drought in the Western Cape and stricter visa regulations for children entering the country, both the water restrictions and visa regulations  have been relaxed and the sector is once again poised for growth,” he says.

Related: Government Funding And Grants For Small Businesses

Manufacturing

Statistics South Africa has credited this industry with being the biggest driver of growth in the country’s GDP, having expanded by 7.5 percent in September 2018, says Lang. “To bolster this, Government has made a concerted effort to stimulate small business growth in this area with initiatives such as the Black Industrialist Programme and the SA Automotive Masterplan.”

He adds that businesses in the manufacturing sphere could therefore likely see significant opportunities in the form of outsourcing contracts and new partnerships with large corporates.

Agriculture

“The debate around land expropriation has occupied most of the discussions surrounding the agricultural sector in 2018, with some questioning growth prospects of this sector. However, this industry has a lot of growth ahead of it, as demonstrated by its 6.5 percent growth over the last three months of 2018,” explains Lang.

“Further to this, the industry is also already taking significant advantage of seven climatic regions in South Africa, with the export of a wide variety of high quality fruit and vegetables increasing substantially,” he points out. The recent outbreak of foot and mouth disease that has resulted in the suspension of the country’s FMD-free status will however significantly impact meat exporters.

In terms of opportunities for SMEs, he says that these may most likely be found in the rural and underdeveloped regions, where the need for resources like efficient transport, state-of-the-art cold storage, better irrigation and private power generation will be key to making agriculture projects more productive and competitive in the export market.

Data and information technology

Connectivity and information technology infrastructure are both crucial to business and employment growth in South Africa, says Lang.

“With many municipalities and the Western Cape government committing to providing all of its residents with free data as part of a plan to expand public Wi-Fi network access, it is clear that this is also becoming a high priority on a state level.” 

Related: 9 Ways To Elevate Your Small Business To The Next Level

It has also been reported that South Africa is awaiting the arrival of three international data centres, and large players in the communications sphere, including Vodacom, Telkom and Vumatel, are making huge strides in drastically growing the country’s fibre optic backbone, he adds. “As such, SMEs in the construction, communications and electrical fields are all likely to benefit from supply and sub-contracting agreements over the coming years.”

In conclusion, Lang says that as South Africa’s economic growth has started to turn around, business owners should keep their ears to the ground as 2019 is highly likely to be a year of opportunity.

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Herman Mashaba To Talk On City Of Jo’burg Job Creation Initiative

Herman Mashaba to talk on City of Jo’burg job creation initiative at 2019 Business Day TV SME Summit.

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Mayor of the City of Johannesburg, and one of South Africa’s most successful entrepreneurs, Herman Mashaba, will be one of the presenters at the 2019 Business Day TV SME Summit which will be taking place at The Empire Venue in Parktown on 7 March 2019.
Now in its third year, the Business Day TV SME Summit provides an opportunity for small business owners, entrepreneurs, incubators, franchisors, investors, as well as suppliers to the SME sector to come together and engage with experts in the business, technology, marketing and investment fields.
Having founded the now iconic hair-care brand, Black Like Me, more than thirty years ago during the apartheid era and on the back of a R30,000 loan from a friend, Mashaba’s experience in establishing an entrepreneurial enterprise holds great value for small and medium-sized business owners in South Africa. Mashaba will also be highlighting the City of Johannesburg’s innovative drive to stimulate inner city opportunities and job creation.
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Managing finances and obtaining funding and expansion capital are challenges many entrepreneurial businesses face as they look to grow their footprint in the market. Darren Segal, Personal and Business Banking Innovation executive at Standard Bank – one of the partners of the SME Summit – will present advice on negotiating funding and finance, to ensure effective cash flow management.
Complex tax issues will also be covered by a representative from the office of the Tax Ombudsman.
Taryn Westoby, Head of Tiso Blackstar Events which manages the SME Summit and curates the speaker line-up says: “We work alongside Business Day TV to meet the requirements of those engaged in the SME sector, so that the content of the Summit aligns to some of their most pressing concerns and needs. The line-up of speakers includes experts in the fields of business scaling, marketing strategy, intellectual property (IP) rights, and risk mitigation.”
As such, Graham Mitchell from GROW has been engaged to share insights into the leadership required to scale a winning management team.  Vishen Pillay, partner at Adams & Adams and an authority on copyright, patents, and trademarks, will provide guidance on protecting IP. Therusha Bhagarette of Credit Guarantee Insurance Corporation of Africa Ltd will expound further on the do’s and don’ts of risk management. The full line-up of expert speakers and topics will be published on www.smesummit.co.za.

International perspective

An international perspective to entrepreneurship will also be provided through Business Day TV’s The Big Small Business Show and a pre-recorded session with Uri Levine: renowned serial entrepreneur and founder of Waze.  Levine was recently in South Africa as a guest of Tiso Blackstar to deliver the keynote presentation at the prestigious Sunday Times Top 100 Companies Awards to an audience of CEOs from the top-performing companies on the JSE.

Leading organisations at the SME Summit

Once again, leading organisations have committed their participation at the Business Day TV SME Summit, recognising it as one of the most effective platforms for SMEs to engage professional insights and facilitate knowledge-sharing in support of much needed entrepreneurial development in SA.
This year’s headline partners are Credit Guarantee Insurance Corporation of Africa Limited, SAICA, and Standard Bank. Other partners include BDO, Adams & Adams, Liberty, Payfast, GROW, The Tax Ombudsman, W&R Seta, Telkom, Santam and The Little Green Number.
For sponsorship and exhibition opportunities:  Stephen Horszowski – stephen@tisoblackstar.co.za
Delegates who wish to purchase tickets for the full day event (07h00 – 15h00) at R995:  Lucy Johnson – johnsonl@tisoblackstar.co.za or visit  www.smesummit.co.za

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SME Insurance Checklist For New Year

Malesela Maupa, Head of Product and Insurer Relationships at FNB Insurance Brokers, advises SMEs to consider the following factors when reviewing their policies.

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Business owners who are planning for the year ahead should not overlook the importance of reviewing their insurance policies to ensure they are adequately covered against insurable risks.

Malesela Maupa, Head of Product and Insurer Relationships at FNB Insurance Brokers says, every year businesses face unique challenges ranging from credit and market risks, technological disruptions, compliance, operational and regulatory risks, amongst others. As a matter of precaution, insurance policies should at least be reviewed or updated once a year.

He advises SMEs to consider the following factors when reviewing their policies:

  • Employee movements – if there are any employees who have left or joined the company, ensure that your policy is updated accordingly.

This type of cover normally depends on the role and contribution of the employee to the business. For instance, directors may be covered for Key Person Insurance and Directors & Officers Liability insurance.

  • Protest Actions – this year is the national election year and leading up to elections we can expect to see an increase in the frequency and severity of protest actions, riots and strikes. Thus, it is essential to ensure that adequate special risks cover is in place from the South African Special Risks Insurance Association (SASRIA).

SASRIA provides cover to both individuals and businesses against special risks like civil commotion, public disorder, strikes, riots and terrorism at affordable premiums.

  • Cyber risks – it is essential to communicate with your insurer or broker and find out if there are any new risks that your business should be protected against. Cyber incidents continue to be a major risk for businesses especially in the SME sector. Over the last couple of years there has been a major increase in the number of reported cyber incidences.

Related: I would like to start an insurance business. What are the basic guidelines?

More businesses are now facing increased cyber threats due to their increased dependency on technology, relating to their internal and customer data being compromised by fraudsters. It is therefore essential to have some form of cyber risk insurance cover and/or enhancement of data security protocols.

  • Regulatory changes – every year there are a number of regulatory changes that impact businesses directly or indirectly, which may result in fines and penalties for non-compliance.
  • Natural catastrophes – the increase in the frequency and severity of extreme weather conditions, coupled with intensifying natural catastrophes will continue to have a significant impact on businesses.

Businesses should ensure they are adequately protected against these risks to avoid incurring sever financial losses.

  • Business changes – should a business consider moving to a new location, purchasing new premises or venture into new business activities, these types of changes could have a major impact on its risks profile. As a result, the policy needs to be updated accordingly.
  • New and Enhanced products – An innovative culture has taken over the insurance industry and ever so often we see the introduction of new products or the enhancement of existing products. Get in touch with you broker to advise you on any new products that might add value to your existing insurance portfolio.

“Reviewing your policy regularly gives you peace of mind knowing that you can focus on running your business effectively, without worrying about unforeseen risks,” concludes Maupa.

Related: Insurance For Small Businesses: What Should Be Covered?

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