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Power Your Company’s Triple Bottom Line

The right PR can impact the public success of your business.

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The most outstanding PR campaigns have a positive effect on people, profit and planet. According to Craig Dummett, owner and account director of Dummett & Co, the three Ps are fundamentally and synergistically linked. Profit leads to happy people; happy individuals lead to solidarity regarding our environment, which in turn leads to positive change on our planet.

“This, in essence, is the triple bottom line, introduced by John Elkington in his 1997 book, Cannibals with Forks: The Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business,” says Dummett. “It’s a bottom line that continues to measure profits, while simultaneously tallying both the organisation’s impact on people plus its environmental footprint – with sustainability an important part of the equation. It’s a perspective whose initial micro focus is then rolled out to take in global and planetary consequences and implications.”

Influencing impact

PR is an industry which is perfectly positioned to positively influence all three Ps. “Let’s check the human context. There are many business models and tricks employed that will increase your company’s profit (either by ethical or non-ethical means), but only PR can positively sway people. It’s one thing to put money in the bank, but it’s another to put ideas into people’s heads along with that. Ideas are the most bankable commodity and the most powerful agent for change.”

Many projects start out as a simple Corporate Social Investment (CSI) strategy  or as an accessory to a PR campaign. “Yet these types of campaigns intrinsically deal with people and their lives, and, for the most part, consist of projects that improve some aspect of people’s lives. Whether it is provision of medicines, primary healthcare, social or enterprise development, environmental or educational programme sponsorship, it’s excellent PR – but equally good for people, planet and profit.”

Take for instance the case of Tata Tea inIndia. “They ran a campaign for a new range of Tea called Jaago Re! (Wake Up), in which they would allow people to voice their community issues (working conditions, transport, corrupt politicians, etc.) when purchasing the tea. The company then used its financial and political backing to support this lobby, resulting not only in positive strides in social upliftment, but also a giant spike in sales.”

According to Dummett, the same techniques and methods used to leverage an ordinary PR campaign – raising awareness, educating the public and gaining publicity – are used to great effect for these types of projects. “The very nature of such a campaign makes it more attractive to the public rather than just another product being sold.

“Oil company Saudi Aramco enlisted a female representative to spearhead a new collaboration with an American company that would see them double their production as well as expanding into new territories. This had an unexpected effect as female consumers’ support grew in consequence of them supporting women’s rights in a country infamous for restriction and suppression.”

Going green

The last decade has seen a giant trend in companies ‘going green’, combating global warming or environmental ruin. PR as a means of damage control in the face of environmental disasters has been crucial to many companies’ survival, but sometimes even the most sincere soothsaying cannot reverse the damage.

“BP’s recent Gulf oil spill springs to mind. If there was one good thing to come from this horrible disaster it is that BP immediately revised its public image and involvement in environmental affairs. Many companies’ sole existence is for the sake of the environment, but logistics require that these companies do make a profit as well and this is where PR bridges the gap.”

Another example of practical PR and building greater responsible corporate brand equity, from the target market’s perspective, is Vital Health Foods and their ‘Going Green’ initiative. Plant electricity usage was reduced by an average 12 per cent per month, and 15 per cent during peak demand alone.

Vital saved more than R20 000 over an eight-month period, simply by coating the roof of its manufacturing facility with a special paint called Thermoshield and by replacing old-fashioned incandescent bulbs with LED lights. Not only was this a financial saving for the company, it also unlocked a positive shift in public perception towards the brand. It was also an initiative which proved educational at the same time.

“Correcting misconceptions and ironing out facts is an important PR exercise which impacts upon consumer awareness and perceptions. Effective PR aims to arm customers with information to strengthen their purchasing power. Free market choice empowers consumers to make informed decisions which impacts upon brand allegiance.”

Positive affects

PR is not always used to influence company profit directly. It can be a cohesive force affecting both people and the planet positively. Vital Health Foods provided consumers with nutritional information about which vitamin supplements to buy, not merely as a proactive business tactic, but to positively enrich the lives of their consumers.

By being socially and environmentally responsible, a company elevates its public image. PR is the face that your company presents to the world. You can choose to present a trusting one or paint a faceless corporate mask. Are you positioning yourself as a friend with whom the customer can relate or are you merely pitching your product to the market? The bottom line is that it’s important to all – people, profit and the planet. Best of all, it’s your choice… and how you go about it can really put you on the map.

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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Empowering Township Entrepreneurs

Big drive to bring ideas to life in the townships this Global Entrepreneurship Week.

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As part of Global Entrepreneurship Week, Experian teamed up with Rhiza Babuyile and Township Fleva – two organisations responsible for supporting township communities – to assist entrepreneurs in transforming their innovative ideas into thriving businesses.

The annual event ‘Tshogo’, which took place in Tembisa yesterday (Thursday, 15 November), is the culmination of roadshows in Gauteng’s populated townships, such as Diepsloot and Orange Farm. These involved up-and-coming start-ups pitching their business ideas to a panel of experienced judges, including Simon Rudman, Social Innovation Lead at Experian SA.

Twenty winners received funding to the combined value of R280 000 to kickstart their business venture, while our others received marketing packages to equip them – and their ventures – further.

“Throughout the competition we were greatly inspired by each and every one of the entrants. There is definitely no scarcity of bright ideas,” says Rudman. “By keeping our entrepreneurs top of mind and providing continuing support, we can grow the township economy for the greater good of the country.”

Experian is pleased to support Rhiza Babuyile, by providing the JoZi Business Hub participants with career counselling as well as credit and financial education aimed at empowering and equipping entrepreneurs with the financial know-how to manage and grow their business and to make smart credit decisions.

“We believe data has the power to transform lives and societies for the better and our corporate social responsibility programmes pioneer how we use our business skills, products and services to promote financial education, financial inclusion and support small business entrepreneurs.

Related: FNB Kicks-off Global Entrepreneurship Week By Engaging Township Entrepreneurs

“These engagements also provide a great opportunity for us to include the entrepreneurs in our solution development process. Their feedback is invaluable in helping to shape products which will hopefully contribute to their success”, adds Rudman.

Global Entrepreneurship Week is a celebration of innovators and job creators who launch start-ups that bring ideas to live and drive economic growth. The JoZI Business Hub’s Tshogo roadshow could not be a better example of this in action.

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Call For Applications: Young Entrepreneurs Global Exposure Trips

Closing Date: 30 November 2018

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Investec CSI’s Young Entrepreneurs Programme provides South African entrepreneurs from various sectors with global exposure.

Every year Investec, in partnership with En-novate, sends a group of young entrepreneurs from various sectors to specifically selected countries in order to gain global exposure. Each itinerary provides them with opportunities to network and engage with venture capitalists, funders and captains of their specific industry. The aim is for them to gain learning and exposure to innovation, technology and process advancements. The programme also offers networking with subject and sector experts.

Applications for the Global Exposure trips are now open to ALL entrepreneurs – regardless of sector – who meet the criteria. Closing date is Friday 30 November 2018.

Applications link:

https://www.investec.com/en_za/welcome-to-investec/corporate-responsibility/our-community/Entrepreneurship.html

The programme itinerary and each trip is customised according to the profiles of the candidates, stage of business and specific sector.

By way of example, Investec recently sent 14 entrepreneurs from South Africa to Berlin to meet people doing Out of the Ordinary things in textiles: https://www.investec.com/en_za/focus/young-entrepreneurs/sa-entrepreneurs-return-inspired.html

Related: En-novate Goes Toe-To-Toe With The Best In The World

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Business Lessons From Women For Women: If You Have To Fail, Fail Forwards

Lessons from three young black South African women on how they have turned an idea into a profitable business.

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Just 70 years ago, black women in SA were largely regarded as legal minors with no power to open bank accounts, lease property or conduct legal transactions without their husbands’ permission. Some remnants of this legacy remain, but, increasingly, traditional roles are being subverted and women are building businesses.  However, women entrepreneurs still remain part of a small minority of thriving business success stories.

The Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs found women in early-stage entrepreneurship decreased by 15.7% in 2018 and only 18.8% of all business owners in SA are women. Suffice to say there’s more to be done, and a lot of it starts with support. When Lebogang Ndlovu, owner of Amare Beauty Hub, announced her intention to start a small business shortly after matric, her parents weren’t happy. She forged ahead despite the lack of support and tenaciously founded three different ventures, which all, unfortunately, failed. She then decided to attend consumer financial training offered by Santam through Mzansi Financial Education. From this training, she learned to ‘fail forwards’ and started her current company – a highly successful Soweto-based spa. She credits the support and mentorship she received as imperative to this success.

That says Tersia Mdunge, Santam’s Corporate Social Investment Manager, is what Santam’s Consumer Financial Education (CFE) is all about, “To grow entrepreneurship, South Africa needs to provide enabling conditions, opportunity and support. As the cornerstone of our economy, it’s pivotal we do so. At Santam, our Consumer Financial Education and Mentorship programme helps young, black entrepreneurs from previously disadvantaged backgrounds to turn their ideas into tangible businesses. We’ve assisted 1 595 individuals so far, and we’re absolutely committed to continuing to do so.”

Although Africa has the highest growth rate of female-run businesses globally, according to the World Bank, South Africa lags behind countries like Ghana.

Here, three women entrepreneurs from Johannesburg share their entrepreneurial journeys and the difference mentorship made:

1. Lebogang Ndlovu, owner: Amare Beauty Hub

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Although young, Ndlovu knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur after matric. It was tough convincing her parents to get on-board. “I come from a typical black family background where the norm is to be employed and not create employment.”

After getting her parents on-side, she used the allowance they provided to start a home executive concierge service. That, unfortunately, failed, and she tried two other ventures, which also didn’t last. It was then that she decided to attend Santam’s training. She did thorough research before jumping into yet another business. She realised that, “It does not matter how many times you fail, learn from your mistakes and move along.”

Ndlovu finally found her passion in beauty. She currently runs Amare Beauty Hub in Soweto; a fully-fledged beauty and health spa that focuses on “beauty on a budget”. With her business partner, she’s already considering expanding the business into micro-franchises to empower other women who are interesting in the beauty industry.  

Related: Watch List: 50 Top SA Business Women To Watch

2. Nthabeleng Nhlapho, owner: Afro Kids Salon

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Before 2016, running her own business was just a dream for Nhlapho, even though she always knew that she was an entrepreneur at heart, because of her family background.

“Getting into business has always been an idea I have toyed with, and after many years of procrastination, I finally decided to take that leap of faith. My dad’s side of the family is quite entrepreneurial as a number of my brothers have started and are sustaining their own businesses. So, in a sense, I think I was born to be an entrepreneur.”

After doing research, Nhlapho saw a gap in the market for an ethnic hair salon for kids. Having a daughter with ethnic hair herself, Nhlapho says, “It became apparent that many mothers like me are uncomfortable with having to take their young daughters to adult hair salons where the environment is not conducive for little budding minds, and stylists do not have the patience with children.”

Nhlapho’s Afro Kids salon is based in Sandton. She opened her door in September 2016 soon after she attended Santam’s training sessions. She gives credit to the mentorship she received and to support from friends and family for her success.

3. Phumzile Nala, owner: Pumzi’s Pretty Petals

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Phumzile Nala’s grandmother inspired her love for flowers. “My grandmother loved flowers and used to do flower arrangements at friends’ and family events, which is where I was introduced to flower arrangements.” 

Nala attended the Santam CFE workshops in Vilakazi Street in April this year. Her mentor, Martine Solomon, says, “Phumzile started the training with the hope that she would go into public speaking and training and development, however, that changed when she realised her passion for flowers. Phumzile was very helpful during her time in the programme, assisted with the roll-out of the CFE programme as well as CFE training and development.”

Now, Nala is a proud owner of a beautiful flower shop in Roodepoort called Pumzi’s Pretty Petals. In just six months, the business is showing steady growth. Nala’s other mentor, businessman Donnie Koetzee, played an instrumental role in this growth, helping Nala buy stock and get through start-up hurdles. Nala says, “At the beginning, I went through a lot of teething problems and had to take credit in order to keep the shop open.” 

Even though Nala cannot compete with big retailers in terms of pricing, she gives her clients a far more personalised and meaningful experience. “We take time to teach our clients about our different offerings, and that is something they will not find in bigger stores.”

Nala found her unique value proposition, which is something that all entrepreneurs need to identify in order to compete. She also gives credit to social media as she makes use of it to advertise her flowers. Her dream is to open four stores in the four major cities of South Africa.

This programme is a direct response from the Department of Treasury for financial services companies like Santam to educate their clients and prospective clients on financial knowledge.

“We went above and beyond what is required of us and turned this into a successful initiative that empowers many to fulfil their dreams. Our programme has been dedicated to empowering our people to becoming financial savvy consumers and entrepreneurs. We have also made it our mandate to focus on risk management and understanding business insurance. Many small businesses do not consider the risks that come with running a business and how they would bounce back if they would be faced by a law-suite for instance;” concluded Mdunge.

For those who would like attend Santam’s Consumer Financial Education, please look out for an invitation on Santam’s website, the requirements are that as a consumer you need earn less than R250 000 and as a business owner, your business need to have a threshold less than R10 million.

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