The University of Stellenbosch Business School’s (USB) Small Business Academy (SBA) has officially welcomed 22 new participants to its 2014 Development Programme. The small businesses from Khayelitsha (14), Mitchells Plain (six) and Langa (two) will embark on the intensive 9-month programme to sharpen their business skills. The programme is sponsored by amongst other ABSA and the Distell Foundation.

Almost 50 per cent of the new intake is female business owners. The small businesses represent a variety of industries – from a swimming school to a dairy, a locksmith and medicine delivery service.

USB’s stakeholder relations manager, Edith Kennedy, said: “This second intake is already proving to be an interesting set of small business owners. They are very eager to further their businesses – firstly, by working closely with their mentors, alumni of the USB MBA programme, and, secondly, by absorbing theoretical knowledge and making it applicable to their particular environment and business.

“The SBA’s Development Programme creates opportunities for small businesses in townships by fuelling their growth, ensures job creation and sustainability.”In piloting the project last year, only business owners from Khayelitsha were accepted. Because of the success achieved through 15 participants completing the project, it has now been extended to Mitchells Plain and Langa.

Some of the new participants and their mentors shared their expectations of this programme:

Participant Rushana Charles, who runs a swimming school, said after two years in business she realised she needed to acquire new knowledge and skills that will help her business to grow. In mentor, Elma Rivera-Nel, she may have found the perfect match. Rivera-Nel has a background of operating as an entrepreneur for close to three decades. “That puts me in a position to guide Rushana so that she can find her own magnificence,” said Rivera-Nel.

Patience Sishuba, who owns a catering and events business, expects to gain more experience in how to do business. This should help her business to grow and assist her in creating more opportunities, she said. Her mentor, Victor Smit, got involved in the SBA programme because of his passion for social entrepreneurship.

Gail Small, who is involved in the steel manufacturing industry, is hoping to benefit in two ways: growth for her business as well as personal growth. On his part, her mentor Piet Briel feels he owes it to people and the country to share his knowledge and give back. “If I can help one person to become more successful, then she can help one other person,” said Briel.

For Bulelwa Nyamza, a supplier of créche equipment, joining the SBA offers an opportunity to learn more about marketing her business. She said: “I want to move to other areas since I am currently the only black person providing these toolkits to crechés in Khayelitsha.”


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