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Stormers’ Siya Kolisi: On Being An Entrepreneur And Employer In SA

Many sportsmen only begin thinking about other sources of income after their professional sporting careers draw to an end, Springbok Siya Kolisi has opted for a head start.

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Stormers captain Siya Kolisi has branched out into small business ownership with Frankees: A designer underwear brand with a South African spin. This is Kolisi’s first business venture, which adds him to the ranks of many South African ‘slashers’ who have alternative sources of income to their day jobs. With a current unemployment rate of 26.7%, SME business owners play an increasingly important role in uplifting South Africa’s economy and tackling unemployment.

Ahead of Workers Day on 1 May, Kolisi chatted about being an entrepreneur and employer at the Cape Town Live Better Talks sponsored by Capitec Bank – a bank that partners with business owners to offer smart banking solutions to employees. In SA, SMEs comprise 90% of formal businesses currently and could catalyse 90% of all new jobs in the country by 2030 – especially if President Ramaphosa delivers on his promise to remove current barriers to small business growth. So ventures like Frankees have the potential to make a big difference.

Related: 8 Lessons Rugby Can Teach Us On Achieving Peak Performance In Business And Life

Here’s what Kolisi had to share:

Tell us a bit more about your new business venture and why you decided to found it?

SK: I founded Frankees, a designer underwear company, with my former class and teammate Tim Whitehead. He originally approached me to be the face of the business, but when I looked closer at the business model I saw the opportunity that existed and brought my full skillset on board in exchange for 50% ownership.

It was an easy decision because Tim and I have walked a long road together, I can trust him, and, after a good business model, trust is the most valuable business commodity.

How do you balance playing rugby and managing a business?

SK: I’m not going to lie, it’s tough. You’d think that investing your money in a good business model is sufficient but that’s only the starting point. I’ve learnt that you have to work hard to make your money work for you.

Tim and I split up our roles based upon what comes naturally to us – this makes it less taxing. I focus on marketing and networking. It’s taught me perseverance and persistence. Having someone famous post a picture in your underwear on social media can have a big impact, but they are also usually very busy so it takes a lot of effort to get the photo out of them.

It sounds like you’re learning a lot along the way, what has been your biggest lesson?

SK: You need to set boundaries about who you listen to. There’s a lot of negativity out there and if you’re not careful people can talk you out of your business idea. I’ve chosen a select few people to walk this journey with me and their advice is the wisdom I value.

Do you think an employer has a responsibility to financially upskill employees?

SK: I do, but only if they’re open to having the conversation. I think there’s a lot to be said for transparency: As an employer, you need to be open about what’s working and what’s not. When things fail, you need to talk about the lessons you learn from the experience. From a financial perspective, I try to ask my staff about their future plans – whether they want to start their own business or pursue an educational venture of some kind, etc. – and offer gentle advice from my own experiences, if they’re open to this. I think, as always, there’s a lot to be said for leading by example. I talk about the way my family is saving and investing in our future. I also am open about the company finances: The importance of cash flow, plus insurance, emergency funds and all those key components to getting a new company off the ground.

Related: 5 Things Businesses Can Learn From Rugby

What role do you think SME’s play in the economy?

SK: Small businesses are very important not only for providing job creation, but they drive innovation and efficiencies in our economy. They have the largest potential to move people out of the poverty cycle of structural unemployment but one must be brave starting up a business because it’s not easy.

Personally I’ve been driven by the need to ensure I can always provide for my young family, even after I hang up my boots. I’m also passionate about being a change maker – running a successful business at scale will result in the ability to employ more staff thus creating jobs and empowering people.

What’s one lesson you hope to impart to your employees and other hopeful entrepreneurs?

SK: Always be on the lookout for creative ways to diversify your income; it is possible to hold down more than one job or to begin something small on the side to add to your income. Don’t wait until you’re confronted with a problem – begin now and be proactive.

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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Dream Big – Engen Dealer Lydia Ramatisa

All the odds were stacked against her, but Engen service station owner Lydia Ramatisa is proof that with hard work, commitment and passion, success is indeed possible.

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Lydia Ramatisa, franchisee at Engen’s Orkney Convenience Centre in Klerksdorp in the North West, could easily have become yet another teenage-mother dropout. Instead, the arrival of her baby girl Rethabile 14 years ago sharpened her focus, driving her to chase her dreams.

“I was in Grade 11 and suddenly I had to find work so I could feed my baby. It was a tough lesson,” Ramatisa recalls.

Today she is a beneficiary of Engen’s decision to prioritise the empowerment of black women in a bid to effect positive change in South Africa.

In 2012, the National Empowerment Fund set up a R50-million affordable loan facility for black entrepreneurs to acquire Engen retail dealerships.

According to Unathi Njokweni-Magida, Engen’s Head of Transformation and Stakeholder Engagement, 46% of the company’s 1 020 retail service station are now black-owned, with 10% of them women-owned.

Ramatisa recalls how she got her first position with Engen as a cashier at the Uncle George Service Station in her home town of Jouberton, also in Klerksdorp, 12 years ago. She had sought a better-paying job after first working in a bakery for just R800 a month.

Related: Engen Gave Me The Platform To Chase My True Calling – Former Pump Attendant

“I used to work extra hours at the Uncle George location, just to make sure the business was running well. My main aim was to see the customers always happy with our service,” she says.

That’s because while Ramatisa may not have an education beyond Grade 11, she quickly figured out that if the customers were happy, the business would thrive.

“I got interested in everything about the operations of the service station, and soon began acting as a supervisor, directing, managing and helping train the staff to do their best work.”

After eight years at the Jouberton location, where she rose to assistant manager, Ramatisa got the chance to run her own concern when her boss, Dr Abdool Ebrahim, suggested she apply for her own Engen franchise.

“I told him I was an uneducated woman but he was adamant that I was young and ambitious, and that I was exactly the kind of person Engen was looking for, who they could help to learn and grow.

“Once I got to the interview I had no more fear. I just wanted to show them exactly what I had to offer,” she remembers.

That was in 2015, when the Orkney site was ready to reopen after a two-year shutdown.

“Engen put their trust in me, and I became the majority shareholder in the operation, which includes the petrol and Quickshop, as well as a Corner Bakery and Barcelos.

Ramatisa and her team have since doubled previous sales figures for all parts of the operation, and were named by Engen in the top two operations for the region in July.

“It’s extremely hard work, but I am so proud of what we are achieving,” she adds.

Ramatisa also changed the future for Rethabile, and her other daughter, Bonita, 3, explaining that she invests in their education wherever possible.

“I may be a single mother, and I may not have much of an education, but I am proof that hard work really does pay off. When I failed to matriculate, I promised myself that that would be my last failure.

“Other women out there need to know that they can do the same if they put in the time and effort, and if they have love for what they do.”

Njokweni-Magida says that by continuing to attract and grow the talents of young women like Ramatisa, Engen is helping build a prosperous future for all South Africans.

Related: How Does One Start a Petrol Station in South Africa?

“We are focused on integrating more women across our entire value chain, and are very proud of success stories like this one.”

Other than the significant boost in the number of black and women dealership owners, the Engen Limited board comprises 54% black members, and 31% black women. The Engen management committee is 64% black, and 36% black female, while senior management in the organisation is 65% black of which 36% are black female.

Ramatisa says she “fell in love” with Engen’s operational methods.

“I remain passionate about the Engen brand, and thank the company for proving that if you offer someone an opportunity, along with mentorship and guidance, anything is possible.”

Her message to other women like her? “Don’t be afraid to dream big. I am proof that you can do anything you want in life.”

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Winners Of The 2018 FAIRLADY Santam Women Of The Future Awards Announced

FAIRLADY magazine has announced the winners of the annual FAIRLADY Santam Women of the Future Awards at an exclusive VIP luncheon at Summer Place in Hyde Park.

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The three winners were selected from a shortlist of finalists by a panel of South African judges – FAIRLADY editor Suzy Brokensha, Professor Thuli Madonsela, Head HR business partners at Santam Annette La Grange, media entrepreneur and international speaker Jo-Ann Strauss and businesswoman Dawn Nathan-Jones.

Through an independent survey, Santam found that the first 1 000 days of a business are the hardest. If you’re still in business by day 1 001, they’ve found, you’re likely to succeed long term. These high-fliers have either already surpassed that critical point or are well on the way to doing so!

“Through this competition, we have seen remarkable women that have achieved amazing results.  Our aim is to ensure that these businesses have a greater impact in the South African economy. We’re honoured to have been part of their entrepreneurial journey.” said Mokaedi Dilotsotlhe, Chief Marketing Officer at Santam.

Related: 13 Female Entrepreneurs Rising To The Top In SA

We are proud to announce the winners:

Patricia Schröder of Reclite SA has been named the 2018 FAIRLADY Santam Woman of the Future (awarded to a female entrepreneur who has survived the first 1 000 days of business). Reclite SA collects, transports and recycles lighting, batteries and electronics. ‘Winning the Woman of the Future Award is recognition for all the hard work that my team and I have done and a reminder that hard work does pay off in the end! It will also serve as inspiration for other women to chase their dreams and passions,’ says Patricia.

She receives R50 000 in cash, a mentoring session with one of the judges, an Issey Miyake fragrance hamper worth R6 990, an IMM Graduate School short course worth R15 000, a Michel Herbelin watch worth R10 500, a Samsonite Karissa Biz Bailhandle and Spinner suitcase worth R7 298, a Madrid ladies handbag and purse from Jekyll & Hide valued at R4 799, a Cross pen worth R2 500 and one media training session.

Vere Shaba of Shaba & Ramplin Green Building Solutions is the winner of the 2018 FAIRLADY Santam Rising Star Award (awarded to a female entrepreneur who is still within her 1 000 days of business). Her engineering consulting firm specialises in green building certifications, engineering solutions, energy solutions and strategic partnerships across the African continent. ‘Winning this award will enable me to create opportunities in the green building sector for South Africans in the future, as well as expand the business into key economic hubs in Africa and Europe,’ says Vere.

She receives R20 000 in cash, a mentoring session with one of the judges, an Issey Miyake fragrance hamper worth R6 990, an IMM Graduate School short course worth R15 000, a Michel Herbelin watch worth R10 500, a Samsonite Karissa Biz Bailhandle and Spinner suitcase worth R7 298, a Madrid ladies handbag and purse from Jekyll & Hide valued at R4 799, a Cross pen worth R2 500 and one media training session.

Lindiwe Matlali of Africa Teen Geeks won the 2018 FAIRLADY Santam Social Entrepreneur Award (awarded to a female entrepreneur who is making a real difference in her community). Africa Teen Geeks offers children between the ages of six and 18 free lessons on how to code. The NPO has partnered with UNISA to facilitate Saturday classes in their computer labs countrywide. ‘Knowing that we give kids hope and raise their aspirations is my biggest achievement and driver,’ says Lindiwe.

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

She receives R20 000 in cash, a mentoring session with one of the judges, an Issey Miyake fragrance hamper worth R6 990, an IMM Graduate School short course worth R15 000, a Michel Herbelin watch worth R10 500, a Samsonite Karissa Biz Bailhandle and Spinner suitcase worth R7 298, a Madrid ladies handbag and purse from Jekyll & Hide valued at R4 799, a Cross pen worth R2 500 and one media training session

‘I always find the winners of the FAIRLADY Santam Women of the Future Awards absolutely admirable,’ says FAIRLADY editor Suzy Brokensha. ‘But what has really struck me about this year’s winners is how they are future-proofing the world through their businesses: Patricia and Vere through huge green initiatives that have gone out of the domestic and into the commercial world, and Lindiwe through giving marginalised kids a real shot at competing in this economy on an equal footing.’

Guests in attendance at the luncheon included businesswoman Wendy Luhabe, philanthropist and author Sonia Booth, businesswoman Judi Nwokedi, Miss World SA Thulisa Keyi, international activist Catherine Constantinides, media personalities Ashley Hayden and Penny Lebyane.

Read more about the winners and their businesses in the latest issue of FAIRLADY magazine, on sale Monday, 20 August 2018.

Follow FAIRLADY on Facebook, www.facebook.com/fairladymag, @FairladyMag on Twitter and @Fairlady_Magazine on Instagram.

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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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