A group of young entrepreneurs in KwaZulu-Natal are benefitting from intensive training designed to take their small businesses to the next level of success.
The trainees recently completed a four-day boot camp on basic business operations and will now embark on a six-week mentorship programme aimed at growing their enterprises.
The entrepreneurship training was organised by the Vuthela iLembe LED Support Programme under the KwaDukuza Local Municipality’s Entrepreneur Development and Support Programme.
The Vuthela Programme aims to improve the business enabling environment, promote inclusive growth, employment creation and support livelihoods in the iLembe district.
The entrepreneurs, who operate within the KwaDukuza Local Municipality, were invited to apply for the training and support, and the final group of 20 was selected from 59 applicants.
Facilitator Lindokuhle Tembe, an economic development consultant at the Goshen Entrepreneurship Hub, said the high rate of unemployment and the prevailing economic conditions in the KwaDukuza region made it essential for young people to consider entrepreneurship as a viable option to formal employment.
Entrepreneurs who offer goods and services that meet the real needs of their communities have a great chance of success if they have the appropriate training and skills, says Tembe.
The first phase of the training course was a four-day “boot camp” held in Ballito on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast, aimed at getting the entrepreneurs into gear with foundational training around issues like licensing, business plans and marketing.
“The trainees had an opportunity to test their business ideas to make sure they start off on the right track and to ensure that they are sustainable in the long term,” says Tembe.
“Youth in South Africa have many great ideas for good businesses, but they need support to get going and to keep going.”
Modules in the first phase offered training around key business issues for entrepreneurs, including building leadership skills and developing strategies to ensure sustainability.
The boot camp prepared the entrepreneurs for the intensive six-week period of one-on-one mentorship and practical training which will follow.
“In the second phase we will work with the business owners to establish milestones for each business and help them to achieve each one, so that they have a clear growth path ahead of them,” says Tembe.
This phase will include site visits and follow ups on issues which emerge in each business, with a focus on operations, branding, marketing and developing a digital presence.
“This phase will help the entrepreneurs to take their businesses to the next level,” says Tembe. “We want to make sure they are ready to take up opportunities as they emerge and to expand their operations in a sustainable manner.”
“Every young entrepreneur who benefits from the programme and grows their business successfully gives others hope that it can be done, and this will inspire other young people to become entrepreneurs in their communities.”
One of the trainees, Zamani Mthethwa, started a small car wash operation after an accident left him confined to a wheelchair.
Now he is the proud owner and operator of Emoyeni Car Wash-Restaurant-Pub, a lifestyle and leisure centre he created from scratch at Emoyeni.
“When I started washing cars, the drivers asked for something to eat while they waited, so I started preparing meat and snacks. Then they wanted something to drink, and I started selling cold drinks. Now we have a full pub and the whole place offers everything you need to entertain yourself and your friends,” says Mthethwa.
“We have no competition. Nowhere else in this area can you get your car washed, and have something nice to eat and drink.”
Mthethwa says the training programme so far had taught him many skills, including the value of discipline and teamwork in business operations. He was confident that he had gained valuable skills to grow his business.
“This course has been a great benefit to me,” he says. “I will be applying what we learnt here in my business as soon as I get back. I have learnt how to add a few more revenue streams, which are in line with the leisure concept we have created, and this will make us even more sustainable.”
“This course has shown us how to make our businesses grow and how to make sure they are sustainable in the future, which is very important for our survival.”