KZN entrepreneurs getting down to business

Ithala

Hundreds of KwaZulu-Natal’s aspiring women and youth entrepreneurs in rural and township areas will get to grips with the nitty-gritty of business over the next three months as Ithala Development Finance Corporation rolls out the 2018 My Business Indaba.

In the picture: Showing off the beadwork of exhibitors at the Imbokodo Iyazenzela Women in SMME’s session in Ulundi recently are from left: Silindile Buthelezi, Branch Manager at Ithala, Musawenkosi Phakathi, Ulundi Municipality LED Manager, Sitandiwe Dimba, Ithala Group Reputation Management Manager and Siyabonga Makhathini, Assistant Director, Consumer Protection Services EDTEA Zululand. Picture: Supplied

The first indaba was successfully held in Ulundi at the end of June and the next will take place in Pongola on July 10 and 11.
“The My Business Indaba roadshows bring together our three main empowerment programmes which are specifically tailored towards SMME Development,” said Sithandiwe Dimba, Ithala’s Group Reputation Management Manager.

Attendees steadily increased

“Since we started the programme in 2014, we have seen the numbers of attendees steadily increase and in the past three years we have reached more than 5000 SMMEs through these initiatives,” she said.

The three programmes that will run over two days at various venues throughout KZN are:
• Imbokodo Iyazenzela Women in SMME Workshops;
• Inkunz’isematholeni Youth in Business Competition; and
• Siyasebenza SMME Development Workshops

“The Imbokodo Iyazenzela (Women in SMMEs) programme is a pillar of support to women entrepreneurs in KwaZulu-Natal who require access to information and the resources to grow. The development programme offers inspirational talks, advice, direction and opportunities for women in communities who are in business or who want to get into business.

“Women are by far the greater number of entrepreneurs reached, which is an indication of many women seeing opportunities and wanting to be part of the economy,” said Dimba.

Celebrate entrepreneurship

While getting to grips with business the entrepreneurs also have an opportunity to enter their businesses and business concepts into competitions which culminate in awards events that recognise and celebrate entrepreneurship. The prizes are substantial and consist of business incubation, funding and assistance for the winning entrepreneurs to get their businesses off the ground and grow.

From 2015 to 2017 Ithala visited 34 towns, engaged with 3749 women and received 542 nominations for the awards.

Against a backdrop of unemployment, poverty and research conducted by the Seed Academy, which showed that youth entrepreneur numbers are dropping, Ithala’s Inkunz’isematholeni Youth in Business programme seeks to encourage and support youth to come up with innovative ideas that can be transformed into viable businesses.

Rewards for small business lions

“It provides a platform for our youth to become entrepreneurs with our support. This year we are directing youth to find innovative solutions to green economy challenges faced by communities. These are water and sanitation; waste management; service delivery and private sector green solutions,” said IDFC acting CEO Themba Mathe.

Ithala, Technology Innovation Agency and other partners will groom these young entrepreneurs and assist them to embark on financed business ventures that will create jobs, thus playing their role in stimulating economic growth in the province.

Dimba said: “Essentially we are looking for youth who are passionate about seeing themselves grow, and are looking for a partner who will walk with them in ensuring the realisation of their business dreams.”

Last year, Ithala received 198 entries – a 33% increase on the 132 entries received in 2016. In 2017 an Elandskop youth designed a solar operated power source and was the winner, with the runner up a UKZN student who developed a maths app for smartphones and tablets.

This year winning youth will receive training and mentorship as well as finance for the business venture.

The closing date for competition submissions is September 20, 2018; selection will take place during October and November and the winner announcements will take place at an Inkunz’isematholeni Youth in Business gala function.

Inspire entrepreneurs

The Siyasebenza “We are working” Entrepreneur Development Programme is a series of developmental outreach workshops to educate and inspire existing and aspiring entrepreneurs with information to build and grow sustainable businesses.

The series comprises presentations and one-on-one consultations with KZN-based SMMEs and co-operatives on key topics of importance relating to starting business; compliance; market research; funding businesses and financial record keeping, said Dimba.

The My Business Indaba will be at the following cities and towns:
Phase 1 – July 2018 (Zululand, eThekwini and Port Shepstone area)
Phase 2 – Umkhanyakude, Ladysmith and Newscastle (dates and venues to be confirmed.
Phase 3 – Umzimkhulu, Msinga (Tugela Ferry, Pomeroy), Pietermaritzburg (dates and venues to be confirmed).