While most township entrepreneurs are struggling to grow their businesses and turn them into profitable entities, a young Monwabisi Park small business owner, Bulelwa Ngcaba is thriving, thanks to a Business Builders initiative, Siyayijika.
The initiative provides financial support to deserving business owners in Monwabisi Park, known as Endlovini, and Lotus Park, to help make them sustainable and profitable.
With the assistance of professional business consultants, Business Builders, formerly known as Business Place, in Philippi Village, identifies small business owners in the two communities with plans to grow their businesses.
The organisation then conducts workshops and trains business owners on the essentials of running a successful business, and ways to grow their ventures.
At the end of the training, participants can market their business to a panel which awards money to deserving owners.
At the beginning of this year, the builders distributed more than R130 000 to deserving individuals in Gugulethu, Khayelitsha and Nyanga. And they are now in the process of distributing more funds, and are calling for people who believe they have what it takes to apply.
Applicants will go through a vigorous selection process and if successful, they will be eligible to receive funds.
Project manager Scott Sloan said their aim is to grow struggling business in the townships and to offer financial assistance.
He said most township businesses battled to get funding anywhere, and that is where they come in. “We want to get the best of the best,” he said.
He said since the start of the programme, they had awarded funding to 17 people, ranging from R1 000 to R10 000.
“This proves that there is strong entrepreneurial skills in the informal settlements,” said Mr Sloan.
This year, he said applicants would make a call as to how much they wanted to get and would pitch for amounts from between R1 000 and R20 000.
The builders are working with Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrade (VPUU) and they hope to expand the initiative to other areas.
Business consultant Sonwabo Gogoba said aspiring business owners must understand that starting and running a successful business required a lot of sacrifice and commitment.
He urged entrepreneurs to focus on their dreams and not be deterred by people who talk negatively about them.
As a business owner, he said he had to encounter a lot of negative perceptions in the community and at home. But because of his commitment and dedication, he managed to succeed. Today he runs a successful consultancy business. He is also a service provider to various businesses and initiatives, including Siyayijika.
He searches for small business owners in the communities in order to qualify for Siyayijika funds.
Mr Gogoba described the search for entrepreneurs as gruelling. He had to walk through Monwabisi Park in order to identify suitable individuals.
Mr Gogoba said South Africa has a “serious crisis of unemployment” and small business could play a meaningful role in addressing the challenges.
He said he would want to assess as many businesses as possible to see if they qualified for the funding.
Ms Ngcaba, one of the first beneficiaries of the project, said she was thrilled by the support offered by the project. It allowed her to grow her business in to a thriving entity.
Ms Ngcaba started her internet shop with just one computer and a single printer, but struggled to grow it until she was introduced to Siyayijika early this year. She attended the workshops and managed to secure R10 000 funding. With the funds she got herself three additional computers and a bigger printer. “Now I am able to offer people a better service. They come from all over Endlovini, Ilitha Park and Tafelsig,” she said. “Siyayijika does really turn things around.”
Ms Ngcaba called on other people, in particular those who are unemployed and who want to grow businesses to take advantage of the programme. She called on people to stop looking for jobs, and instead to create work in order to build a thriving society. “I am not bragging, but I believe I am better off than some of the people who wake up every morning and go to work. Some of the people that I know come to me for financial assistance,” she said.
She said the business also allowed her to do her own things without pressure from anyone. “The biggest problem we have is that people underestimate their dreams. It does not matter how small it is, if it is your dream, go for it,” said Ms Ngcaba.
To apply for the Siyayijika funds, call 021 371 3350 or visit facebook.com/siyayijika, or Business Builders at 1 Cwangco Crescent, Philippi.