Columinate and the South African Black Entrepreneurs Forum (SABEF) have collaborated to better understand South Africa's township entrepreneurs and small business owners. In March 2013 SABEF kicked off the Kasi-to-Kasi SME development tour in Soweto - launched by the global entrepreneur Mr Kelly Ritchie and the late Gauteng MEC of Economic Development, Nkosiphendule Kolisile. This is an initiative aimed at developing potential and current entrepreneurs and small business owners to seek business opportunities in their township communities. The programme brought together academic, technical and strategic business resources to inspire and motivate township entrepreneurs.
One key output of the programme was to better understand the challenges that these entrepreneurs face in order to facilitate tailored offerings for them. This was identified as a key market research opportunity and, as a result, the partnership between SABEF and Columinate was formed.
The Kasi-to-Kasi tour kicked off in March 2013 in Soweto, Gauteng, and more workshops were held throughout the year across the country. Data was collected after each workshop and combined to form part of the final report. In total, 130 black township entrepreneurs provided feedback.
A need for guidance, not necessarily support
The majority of entrepreneurs (91%) were very optimistic about the business opportunities in South Africa. 71% felt they receive sufficient social support to start and maintain their business, but only 67% felt they have the necessary skills to do so. The majority wanted more guidance and skills development in the financial and marketing aspects of running their business.
Access to basic resources to run a business is also problematic for many entrepreneurs. Almost one in four do not have a laptop, tablet, or any type of computer to conduct their business, with many relying on their cellphone.
While 76% claimed that they do not experience any community-related difficulties in starting or running a business, one quarter felt quite the opposite. Crime and a lack of workspace were mentioned by the latter group of entrepreneurs as the main barriers to successfully maintaining their business. The effects of crime and unforeseen events could potentially be detrimental to these entrepreneurs' businesses, as 88% stated that they have no business insurance at all.
These findings suggest real and tangible areas of development and support for entrepreneurs. Corporate South Africa, business incubators, and businesses or individuals with an interest in enterprise development can leverage these findings.
Building on these insights
Matsi Modise, SABEF executive director, asserts that: "The results provide an interesting look into the challenges entrepreneurs face. Many of these challenges are not new, but quantifying the extent of it has assisted us in tailoring SABEF's efforts in order to ensure that relevant issues are tackled. A bottom-up approach to solving problems related to entrepreneurship development in townships is required."
Elna Smit, marketing director at Columinate, stated: "We look forward to collaborating with SABEF in 2014 to build on this survey. This was the first Kasi-to-Kasi tour and the first wave of research. There have been learnings in [sic] how we can maximise the opportunity to gather useful feedback from these entrepreneurs. This initial survey was very broad, and now that we know which issues are pertinent, our future surveys will be more focused and specific. The idea is to elevate both the programme and the survey findings in accurately describing the challenges these entrepreneurs face, and then delivering these results to corporate South Africa so that it can see the business opportunities that exist within our townships."
The report is available from SABEF and Columinate. For more information on the content of the report or to obtain a copy, please contact SABEF at (011) 053 7091 | or Columinate at (011) 782 7246 |
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