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When the Lights Go Out

Don’t let power outages interrupt your business.

Greg Mason

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The recent power outages have highlighted a weakness in many small businesses… the lack of business continuity and disaster recovery systems.

Small business owners rarely take the time to document the risks to their business and make contingency plans for situations that cause interruptions to the smooth running of the business.

Yet it is small businesses that suffer the most at the hands of unforeseen circumstances.

Power outages are a case in point. I have spoken to many small business owners who simply could not conduct business during the recent power outages.

Think like a big business

There are two issues at play here. One is a mindset, and the other is the practical implementation of a business interruption policy.

Small business owners need to stop thinking like small business owners. If you want your business to grow and prosper you need to put systems and procedures in place like a “big thinking” organisation. Stop thinking it will never happen to you.

Stop making excuses that you are too busy. And stop thinking you can’t afford a backup plan.

The question you need to ask yourself is can you afford NOT to have a business continuity plan.

You need to weigh up the costs of implementing a business continuity plan versus the impact on your business.

Know the risks

The first step for every business is to think about, articulate and document the risks to your business. In the case of an extended power outage, what would the impact be on your business?

If you are in the restaurant business, or require refrigeration, or if the service you provide relies on power to offer the service, you absolutely have to have a contingency plan in place to continue operating in the event of a power outage.

No business is immune to the impact of a power outage. Telephone systems that rely on power can’t operate in a power outage. This means that potential customers contacting the business are unable to get through. How many potential customers could be lost in this time?

If they get through but can’t be transferred to the correct person, this has a negative impact on the company’s professionalism and image.

A major hiccough in the event of a power outage is access to computers and information stored on the server.

In addition, power surges and unexpected shut downs can lead to the loss of data.

At the very least, small businesses need to install a UPS (uninterrupted power supply) at the office. A UPS allows key equipment to operate without electricity for a limited period and allows you to safely shut down computers, etc.

But a UPS won’t get you back up and running in the event of an extended power outage.

Identify a solution

Depending on your business, you have two options. First prize is always a generator. It allows you to continue operating as normal and ensures the least interruption to your business.

The second option I recommend to small business owners, is to make use of laptop computers which have some battery power and are portable.

In the event of a power outage, the business can still run from another location – your employees’ homes / a coffee shop or an alternative venue where there is power.

For this solution to work, it is also important to store all your office documents “in the cloud”.

This means all documentation can be accessed from any remote site where there is power and an internet connection.

They say the only certainties in life are death and taxes. And in South Africa… power outages! Take action, and make sure your business is not left out in the dark.

Greg Mason is the CEO of bizHQ – The Business Headquarters – and is one of the most experienced and acclaimed business and executive coaches in the country. He draws on his diverse experience in business, including accounting, HR, IT, strategy and business planning, change management, project management and programme management to assist businesses in identifying their business objectives and coaching them through a process to realise their potential.

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Entrepreneur Today

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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