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SA Small Business To Grow Through Funding, Market Exposure

South African SMEs stand a chance of securing funding, market exposure and new partnerships through the annual Eskom Business Investment Competition (BIC) and the Small Business Expo 2017.

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South African SMEs stand a chance of securing funding, market exposure and new partnerships through the annual Eskom Business Investment Competition (BIC) and the Small Business Expo 2017.

Enjoying a rare opportunity to improve their businesses, market their companies effectively, network with potential business partners and carry out live market research, small business owners report that this annual opportunity delivers long-term benefits.

Through the Eskom Development Foundation, Eskom supports entrepreneurship and small business development at South Africa’s leading annual small business event, the Small Business Expo, organised by Reed Exhibitions and presented in partnership with Eskom. 

Eskom utilises the opportunity to announce the winners of the annual Eskom BIC, in which substantial prizes are awarded to black-owned businesses in the manufacturing, engineering/construction, agriculture/agri-processing and services/trade sectors. The overall winner across all four sectors of the competition stands to win R150 000 to invest in their business, while each sector winner receives business investment support of R100 000. Runners-up and finalists also receive cash prizes.

Related: How To Start A Business With No Money

The BIC finalists are also hosted at the Eskom pavilion at the Small Business Expo, taking place from 31 August – 2 September in Johannesburg, where they meet with potential business partners, investors and customers; and attend the numerous training events and development workshops at the expo.

In addition to hosting the BIC awards and showcasing the finalists at the expo, Eskom also features leading Eskom Simama Ranta schools who run enterprise clubs across South Africa at the expo. 

The overall winner of the 2016 BIC, Nomcebo Sibanyoni, owner of Nomcebo Printers in Lydenburg, Mpumalanga, reports that her participation in the competition and expo has delivered long-term benefits for the company.

“The BIC was quite intimidating, but my participation gave me an opportunity to review my business model and strategies; and the input from the expert judges helped us to focus on long-term goals,” she says.

“One concern raised during the process was our focus on servicing the mines within our province. As a result, we have reconsidered our strategy and are diversifying our products and customer base.”

Winning the BIC also gave Nomcebo Printers valuable exposure, adding to its credibility, she says. “The Lydenburg Chamber of Commerce subsequently gave us an award for being a business that helped put Lydenburg on the map. This has helped build trust in our abilities among existing and potential customers.”

Participation in the Small Business Expo added significant value to the experience, says Sibanyoni: “Not only did we benefit from market engagement and networking with potential partners, we also learnt a great deal from the workshops at the event. For example, I took learnings from the social media workshop and applied them to our own business strategy – and we are now using social media very successfully to engage with our customers.”

Previous Eskom BIC runner-up and three-time participant at the Eskom pavilion at the Small Business Expo Kroutz Sprouts, says the competition and expo exposure have been very beneficial for the company.

Candice Kroutz-Kabongo, co-founder of the family-owned hydroponic vegetable farm, says the entire BIC process and the participation in the Small Business Expo has helped the company on several fronts: “The actual competition adjudication process is an eye-opener,” Kroutz-Kabongo says.

Related: Funding And Resources For Young SA Entrepreneurs

“You subject your company to scrutiny by experts in their field, and they point out areas you may not have considered. In our case, this scrutiny highlighted price fluctuations in fresh produce, and led us to consider processing our own produce. At the Small Business Expo, we were then able to showcase these products and assess market response on the show floor.”

Kroutz-Kabongo says participating in the Small Business Expo also gave Kroutz Sprouts a rare opportunity to network with other business owners to discuss potential partnerships.

“We had access to food franchise owners, for example, and we opened talks on possibly supplying them with our fresh produce. Overall, we found our participation in the Eskom BIC and the Small Business Expo very worthwhile.”

“Eskom’s participation and the BIC innovator showcase are highlights of the Small Business Expo, illustrating the high level of creative business flair South Africans are capable of and giving show visitors access to the most innovative new businesses around. This is in line with our overall goal to provide a platform for small business networking and growth,” says Carol Weaving, Managing Director of event organisers Reed Exhibitions.

The three-day expo, which is co-located with the #BuyaBusiness expo, provides SMEs, businesses, investors and franchisors with a versatile platform from which to network, explore new business partnerships, build brand awareness, interact with potential customers and investors as well as to generate media coverage. The #BuyaBusiness expo and Small Business Expo offer business opportunities, franchise opportunities, business tools, business services, financial advice and networking for anyone considering starting their own business or franchise, and for those already in business and looking to expand, or to source BEE procurement partners.

SMEs are invited to contact the organisers to find out how to exhibit. For more information, go to www.buyabusinessexpo.co.za  and www.smallbizexpo.co.za, or email: info@SmallBizExpo.co.za

Related: New Ways SMEs Can Find Funding

About the Small Business Expo

The Small Business Expo, to be held at the TicketPro Dome from 31 August – 2 September 2017, is devoted to the development of small and medium-sized enterprises, providing an invaluable platform for small businesses to market their businesses and interact with prominent business leaders, corporates and procurement buyers.

Attracting thousands of visitors each year, it is the ideal platform to stimulate business growth and motivate both current and aspiring entrepreneurs. The Small Business Expo runs alongside #BuyaBusiness Expo and is presented in partnership with Eskom. Visit www.smallbizexpo.co.za.

About the #BuyaBusiness Expo

The #BuyaBusiness Expo is an annual exhibition held alongside Small Business Expo. To be staged at the Ticketpro Dome from 31 August – 02 September 2017, this expo connects thousands of entrepreneurs and investors who are looking to grow, diversify or enter into business ownership with one of the many business and franchise opportunities available at the show. It also presents business funding and service support solutions. Visit www.buyabusinessexpo.co.za.

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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Business Linkages And Investment Readiness

The Africa Women Innovation & Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) is hosting its flagship Growth Accelerator Programme for 2018, sponsored by Nedbank.

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The Africa Women Innovation & Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) is hosting its flagship Growth Accelerator Programme for 2018, sponsored by Nedbank. AWIEF is seeking 25 ambitious, innovative and committed early-growth-stage South African women entrepreneurs, from a variety of sectors, looking for support to scale their businesses.

Access to finance is the most cited challenge to the growth of women-owned businesses in Africa. Bankability and investment readiness are major impediments to attracting business finance.

This is an intensive six-week programme designed to support participants with the business modelling and growth strategy required to scale their enterprises, become investment ready and develop entrepreneurial leadership. The programme will cover:

  • purpose and values
  • target market, competitive landscape and value proposition
  • delivery model
  • financial modelling
  • conduct a creative force
  • growth strategy
  • financing for scale
  • pitch training.

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

Nirmala Reddy, Senior Manager of Nedbank Enterprise Development, says: ‘We support initiatives such as this in line with our pledge to help clients see money differently, which is aimed at making a difference in South Africa, not just for women and children and business, but also for communities throughout the country. The bank strongly focuses on the development of female employees and black-women-owned suppliers, and this can be seen through our development and training programmes. We are also proud that women make up 62% of the workforce at Nedbank.’

The 2018 AWIEF Growth Accelerator, with its first 25 participants, is implemented as a build-up programme that will culminate at the 2018 AWIEF Conference, Exhibition and Awards event taking place on 8 and 9 November at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, where participating entrepreneurs will pitch their business to an audience of investors, business leaders and corporate decision-makers.

The three best ventures stand to win monetary prizes from AWIEF and financial management advice from Nedbank.

The programme details are as follows:

  • Dates: Starts on 17 September and culminates on 8 and 9 November 2018
  • Location: Cape Town and Johannesburg
  • Participation fee: Free 

Eligibility

Businesses must be:

  • in a post-revenue phase;
  • scalable and innovative ventures;
  • in operation for not less than two years (ideally three to five years);
  • owned or led by ambitious and committed women entrepreneurs; and
  • seeking investment or funding to grow.

If you are interested in participating, click here to apply. Applications close on 31 August 2018.

The event is hosted by AWIEF and sponsored by Nedbank.

Read next: Kid Entrepreneurs Who Have Already Built Successful Businesses (And How You Can Too)

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Investing In Women Key To SA Socio-Economic Development

Investment in women’s empowerment delivers long-term socio-economic returns, says Novartis. Women’s networks and mentorship engagements can help unlock personal and career success.

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Empowering women has long-term positive socio-economic impacts, making women’s empowerment, career development and mentorship programmes a compelling narrative for companies.

This is according to Sibonile Dube, Head of Communications & Public Affairs at Novartis South Africa and a mentor at Phakama Women’s Academy. Marking the start of national Women’s Month, Dube cites Bain & Company research into how and why the career paths of South African women and men differ, which found that in 2017, 31% of South African companies had no female representation in senior leadership roles. The research noted that the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa (BWASA) census on women in leadership indicated that 22% of board directors were women, but only 7% were executive directors. Only 10% of South African CEOs and only 2.2% of JSE-listed company CEOs were women.

“Considering that recent research by MCSI concluded gender diversity on the board has significant benefits for both productivity and profits, South African enterprises need to become more proactive about supporting women’s empowerment in the workplace,” says Dube. But Dube adds that while formalised empowerment and mentorship programmes are important, South African women hold some of the keys to helping both themselves and other women unlock success.

She outlines three key factors that hold women back from corporate and entrepreneurial success, and how these challenges can be overcome:

Lack of confidence

A key factor holding women back from achieving their true potential in the workplace – and as entrepreneurs – is fear and a lack of confidence, says Dube. “As women, we often undersell ourselves – we underestimate our potential, our power and the amount of influence that we have. In contrast, men are typically quite confident in themselves and their capabilities,” says Dube.

The Bain & Company survey of over 1000 women found an apparent loss of confidence amongst women in junior- and middle-management positions that they could rise to the top. At this level, some respondents noted political imbalances that were difficult to navigate; while their male colleagues had access to a sponsor or mentor (normally of the same sex and colour) to help navigate these issues.

Dube believes women need to become more proactive about empowering themselves, equipping themselves with a broad range of skills, and actively working on building their self-awareness and self- esteem. “Building skills goes beyond developing academic or technical expertise – we need to work on our relationship skills and communication skills, because human relations are crucial for success in a setting where you are looking for influence and significance.”

“Dealing with fear and lack of confidence is important, because this enables us to have relevance and contribute more meaningfully to in the workplace and in business,” says Dube.

Related: 13 Female Entrepreneurs Rising To The Top In SA

Lack of support networks

More than women, men generally back one another be it in corporate or in business deals and this has supported their career success a lot, says Dube. “Having a network is important – it is through these networks that opportunities are shared and support is gained. Having a strong network of people that back your career becomes an effective reference point especially in times of challenges. And through these networks, people are also able to find mentors.”

Dube believes mentorship is a crucial component of career success, offering both mentor and mentee opportunities to learn and grow. “We need more mentorship. With mentorship, training and coaching, women can actually pull out some of the strengths they possess which they may not be aware of. One is challenged and pushed to aim higher,” says Dube.

Bain & Company research found that sponsorship of individuals, especially at the mid-management level, ensures that contributions and performance are recognised and attributable to the individual. Often women, particularly in middle management, feel marginalised, ignored or simply worn down by trying to get their efforts recognised.

Dube, who mentors a number of women, says mentorship can be formalised through a corporate career development programme, but can also extend to informal and virtual mentor-mentee relationships. “You can be guided by simply reading the books, reading articles and watching videos and talks of inspirational leaders anywhere in the world on social media,” says Dube. Dube points out that good mentorship can be a mutually beneficial in the exchange of ideas and meeting of minds. “In an effective mentor-mentee relationship, reverse mentorship takes place. In an era where we now have four generations in the workplace, the digital and tech savvy younger generation have a lot to offer to the rest,” says Dube.

Poor Health and Wellbeing

In order to cope and remain competitive in the workplace, women have to ensure they take care of their health and maintain some resilience especially when pressure mounts. Recently, there have been a lot of conversations about mental health in South Africa. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), gender is a critical determinant of mental health and mental illness. Gender determines the difference in power and control that men and women have over the socioeconomic factors of their mental health and their exposure to specific mental health risks.

“Women are under immense pressure to perform in various spheres of their lives. Juggling a career, motherhood and marriage or a relationship can be emotionally and physically taxing to the extent of affecting one’s health, especially mental health. It is therefore imperative that women take good care of their health and wellbeing amid the demands of a competitive and fast paced lifestyle presented by the demands of modern society,” says Dube.

Depression is not only the most prevalent women’s mental health problem but may be more persistent in women than it is in men. There is more research needed to determine the reasons for this and what can be done to address it.

Related: 30 Top Influential SA Business Leaders

Unlocking empowerment

This Women’s Month, Dube says women should feel encouraged to be proactive about their own career development, and about helping other women to grow – both personally and professionally.

“As women we should be firm believers in one another. We hold the keys to opening doors for other women. By creating a support structure for one another, we can create phenomenal opportunities to make a difference for fellow women, with the aim of creating leaders and catalysing empowerment that has a ripple effect, benefiting all of society and the economy as a whole. Studies have revealed that women reinvest up to 90% of their income into their families compared to men who reinvest 30-40%. This has far reaching socio-economic gains for any society,” concludes Dube.

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Leaderex Drives Digital Transformation Agenda For 2018 Summit

Leaderex, Africa’s largest gathering of business leaders, professionals and entrepreneurs, returns to Johannesburg on 4 September 2018.

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Building on a successful debut in 2015, the organisers, Leader.co.za, in association with the JSE and leading think tanks, will host 250 masterclasses on key priority areas to drive digital transformation, including agile leadership, innovation, fintech and blockchain, AI, IoT, ecommerce and the future of work.

“Our programme has been designed around peer-based learning, allowing participants to gain practical knowledge from the trenches, engage with the best in the business, and thrive in a disrupted world,” says Leader.co.za.

Over five hundred CEOs and industry leaders will share actionable insights and advice on the day, representing one of the largest collaborations of its kind in the country.

Delegates will have the opportunity to connect with incubators, accelerators and start-up platforms, explore MBA programmes and business schools, and participate in one-on-one sessions with respected coaches and consultants.

South Africa’s lack of a savings culture will be another talking point, and investment vehicles, from tax-free savings to ETFs, will be thoroughly unpacked.

“We are pleased to be working with Leaderex again this year because we have seen the impact that the event has had since inception,” adds Mpho Ledwaba, Head of Marketing at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).

For executives and entrepreneurs looking to unlock value through new technologies and ways of thinking, Leaderex 2018 represents a highlight on the business calendar.

Tickets can be purchased online at www.leaderex.com.

Read next: 22 Qualities That Make A Great Leader

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