Alumni News 2018

A focus on the USB Alumni Association: Gauteng Chapter

Alumnet

A focus on the USB Alumni Association: Gauteng Chapter

  • DEC 11 2018
  • Tags Alumni, Gauteng Chapter, Committee

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The Gauteng chapter of the USB Alumni Association elected a new committee at their AGM in November 2018. Under the leadership of Nirvanna Rampersad, this chapter hosted a series of alumni-industry dialogue sessions and continuous learning events during 2017 and 2018. The new interim Chairperson for 2019 – 2020, George Rautenbach, believes in the team’s capacity to drive alumni and corporate relations to create mutual value and partnerships, and to explore innovative new opportunities.

Meet the committee

George Rautenbach USB Alumni GautengThe interim chairperson George Rautenbach is an admitted attorney in the High Court of South Africa as well as a Business Rescue Practitioner, Transactional Advisor and Deal Negotiator.  He holds an MBA from USB. Through negotiation, he manages to successfully resolve complicated and sensitive corporate, legal and financial disputes. He has extensive experience in due diligence investigations, business rescues, turnarounds and setting a revised strategy for companies in order to achieve a restructuring and return to profitability. In addition to his legal practice, George co-founded Gatekeeper Asset Management, who were the appointed development managers of Val de Vie Wine and Polo Estate outside Paarl, Western Cape. Gatekeeper managed the entire development process and the professional team from rezoning and pre-selling to full civil and structural implementation.

 

Nirvanna Rampersad USB Alumni GautengThe immediate past chairperson, Nirvanna Rampersad, is a registered Professional Engineer (Chemical – IChemE) and certified PMP (PMI member) with an MBA and 16 years project management and operational experience in mineral processing/mining, commercial, marketing and business strategic analysis. Her project management experience includes commercial and construction aspects of projects and operational experience focused on implementing ESHQ system improvements to realising cost and process efficiencies through process optimisation and plant design. Nirvanna is currently a Manager – Operations Functions for Anglo Platinum. She previously served as Senior Audit Manager, Operations and Projects.

 

Douglas Davids USB Alumni GautengDouglas Davids brings to the committee 30 years of private sector experience, of which the last six years have been as an entrepreneur running his own business.  His strong financial background adds a strong sense of procedural compliance and financial oversight. Douglas has a strong affiliation with USB having completed both an MBA and an MPhil in Development Finance. Douglas holds professional membership with the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants as an associate member. He is also a member of the South African Investment Analyst Society as well as a member of the Association of Black Securities and Investment Professionals.

 

 

George Woods USB Alumni GautengGeorge Woods began his career in the Retail Industry in South Africa in 1993, and in 1998 he joined Accenture as a Business Analyst with a specific focus on credit IT strategy parameter management and implementation. Since then, he has been with Nedbank Ltd as a Business Analyst and, later, as a Project Manager. Currently his responsibilities include the portfolio management of multiple projects in the investment banking and capital markets trading sphere. His roles since then have been with Rand Merchant Bank and Ernst & Young. George launched a software company with development partners in Cyprus and India, and has a keen interest in risk management of projects and the impact of regulatory frameworks on risk management of large-scale complex projects, and projects of a humanitarian nature.  He has previously concluded a three-year term of office on the advisory board of USB and completed the MDP at USB. Her Majesty the Queen admitted George as a member of Royal Order of St John as announced in the London Gazette in December 2014 as recognition for his work in the aid of humanitarian causes.  George completed his MBA at the Netherlands at the University of Applied Sciences, and read computer sciences at Oxford University.

 

Jonathan Erickson USB Alumni GautengJonathan Erickson has over 40 years corporate and management consulting experience having held senior executive roles in banking and human resources and organisation development at Standard Bank and De Beers and Chubb Security South Africa. Fascinated by the changing world of work due to shifting demographic, technological and socio-economic developments and trends, Jonathan views ‘the future’ as a critical and strategic resource that organisations need to carefully and continually wrestle with and shape. Jonathan holds a BA degree (Economics and Mathematics) from Rhodes University, and Hons B(B&A), MBA and MPhil (Futures Studies) degrees from USB.

 

Christine Chichi Muduviwa Kere USB Alumni GautengChristine Chichi Muduviwa Kere is a business strategist and entrepreneur with diversified industry experience gained from working across industry sectors in Southern Africa. As a Leader Development Coach & OD Consultant, Chichi’s drive is about making impact and change through people in various organizations. She is natural in finding the jewels in people through creating critical conversational intelligence in leadership and their teams to execute strategy and deliver on performance. Her passion for talent alignment and strategy execution enabled to successfully turnaround an ailing hospitality group in Mozambique despite limited knowledge of Portuguese. Chichi has set up a Coaching Mentoring Education Africa (CMEA), a platform to enhance leader development in both leaders and learners as future leaders for sustainable development. She holds a Bachelors’ Degree in Marketing Management; an MBA in Strategic Marketing, a Diploma in Vocational Education and a Community Coaching Certificate on the back of her MPhil in Management Coaching with USB. She is an accredited partner with Worldview Academy, a leading Organisation Development training company in South Africa.

 

Michiel Jonker USB Alumni GautengMichiel Jonker is a Director in the Advisory division at Grant Thornton. He is a Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) and holds a Diploma (Computer Audit, Advanced Computer Audit), a BA (Political Science), a PGDip and a MPhil (Futures Studies). He has experience in developing risk management strategies for clients, and strongly believes that every business can maximise its chances of success by applying appropriate risk management strategies by incorporating foresight into its strategic thinking. His interests include business and IT strategy formulation, business risk and control management strategies, futuristic research, macro history patterns, the analysis of trends, emerging issues and weak signals in the contextual environment as well as systems thinking.

 

Will Coetsee USB Alumni GautengWill Coetsee, USB Alumnus of the Year: Social Impact and Managing Director, Botanica Natural Products holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biodiversity and an MBA cum laude from USB. Botanica has been recognised as a specialist in African social enterprise. Will is a member of the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) Technical Commission on the promotion of Traditional Knowledge in South Africa. He regularly advises government and academia on best practice, policy and regulations regarding commercialisation of indigenous plant products. He is currently researching a PhD through USB and Reims Management School (France) with the aim of developing strategies to assist African entrepreneurs in accessing international markets. Will’s specialities include social entrepreneurship, small business consulting, family business, agro-processing, strategic planning, branding & identity, and project management.

 

Virna Alexander USB Alumni GautengVirna Alexander is an MBA alumnus and a Partner within the Advisory Operations competency of PwC. Virna has over 20 years of experience across various industries and this has afforded her the opportunity to develop strong leadership, communication, business and operational skills. Virna’s main area of focus is Strategy and Operations focusing on the exploitation of organisational design and technology to unlock business value.

Virna believes that as an alumnus you have the responsibility to grow the brand and foster relationships across the globe.

 

Newton Frederick Weideman USB Alumni GautengNewton Frederick Weideman is the Senior Manager: Talent Management, Training and OD at Liquid Telecoms SA and a Chartered Human Resources Professional, with over 20 years’ experience across the Telecoms, Insurance, Mining, Industrial and Government sectors. Some of his accomplishments include being the External advisor to a listed employee service organisation and delivering international research and proposed frameworks as it relates to skills of the future (2017) and driving the change effort as it relates to culture and operational performance for an established cement manufacturer (2010).

 

Wishing this team all the best and lots of inspiration!

USB Alumni office

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Final-year MBA student wins Innovation Award in Mauritius

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Final-year MBA student wins Innovation Award in Mauritius

  • DEC 11 2018
  • Tags Innovation, Competition, MBA, Entrepreneur

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Cédric Azémia, a final-year Blended MBA student who will graduate in March 2019, recently won the National Innovation Challenge of Mauritius. It is a competition organised by the Mauritius Research council under the aegis of the Ministry of Technology of Mauritius. Cédric is also the first USB student who is from Mauritius.

More about the competition

During my MBA, I made an application to participate in this National Innovation Challenge of Mauritius. This competition aims to nurture and spur entrepreneurs in Mauritius for sustainable business growth. I pitched my idea, which is an emergency app for Mauritius. The name of the mobile application is “MAUSAFE” (which also means Mauritius Safe). I was a finalist and to my surprise, I was the winner of this challenge and I won money as seed funding for the implementation of my project. I will officially launch my company in 2019 and eventually aim to grow it quickly. This type of competition can be very useful if one is seeking for seed funding for start-ups. I continuously encourage my friends and colleagues to make proper use of the opportunities that are offered in their countries.

“The blended mode allowed me to keep my job and study at the same time.”

Here he answers a few questions about his USB journey.

Q: Why did you decide to study at USB?

A: I decided to pursue a postgraduate degree at USB because I wanted to invest my money into my education. An investment which is not only worth it but also one that will bring me more than just monetary return but also values. I also decided to choose USB because of the triple crown accreditation which indicates its high education standard and international recognition. But above all it’s the blended mode of the MBA which was the most significant aspect in my decision towards choosing to pursue my MBA at USB. The blended mode allowed me to keep my job and study at the same time. I could attend all my lectures online from Mauritius. Due to the importance of contact time with lecturers, I was also required to travel to USB three times over two years. It was a great opportunity for me to discover the beauty of South Africa through Cape Town and to meet new people which eventually became very good friends.

“During my MBA, I also learned what I really wanted to do in my life, which is to become an entrepreneur.”

Q: What are some of the key learnings you took from the MBA?

A: There is a plethora of key learnings I took from the programme. One key learning is from the leadership module from which I learned a lot about myself. I learned that I am a resilient person, with high emotional intelligence. I learned about empathy which is really important in terms of leadership and creativity. I also learned a lot in my International Study Module at Bentley University in Boston. It’s the first time I had so much fun while learning in my life. Design thinking was a real discovery to me and which I will certainly use a lot in the future. Learning other cultures and perspectives was very enriching. During my MBA, I also learned what I really wanted to do in my life, which is to become an entrepreneur. I did my electives in Strategy Business Model and Start Up, which I found very practical and from which I learned a lot. Although it has been a very hard journey for me, I truly enjoyed my MBA and I am very glad I learned so much from it. I am now equipped with the tools and developed key values for my future.

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Celebrating 40 years of USB alumni networks

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Celebrating 40 years of USB alumni networks

  • DEC 11 2018
  • Tags Alumni Office, USB Alumni, Alumni network

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Dear USB alumni

Celebrating 40 years of USB alumni networks

In Stellenbosch University’s centenary year, we are also celebrating 40 years of USB alumni networks. USB’s Alumni Association, which was founded on 25 October 1978, now has almost 30 000 alumni who excel in all spheres of society – locally and globally.

Initially, the association was known as NABUS. From 12 March 1986 the association was known as the USB Club. The name changed to USB Alumni Association in August 2006.

Throughout all these years, USB has remained committed to serve alumni in various ways, including opportunities for continued learning, access to business knowledge, and ways to give back to society. Various channels – like this newsletter and the USB Advisory Board – are used to create ongoing conversations between USB and its alumni. As set out in our vision and mission, the USB Alumni Association strives to be the most desirable alumni association in Africa, to promote the interest of USB, and to make an impact. Together, USB and its alumni create a powerful network that contributes to the common good of society.

As 2018 draws to a close, we want to thank our alumni for their support. Thank you for sharing your journeys and stories of impact, participating in events as guest speakers, supporting students by mentoring them, sharing industry knowledge on local and global platforms, helping us to strengthen relationships with corporate partners, and joining network events aimed at career growth. This year, USB and USB-ED alumni initiated more than 75 events in which alumni could participate.

Please know that your contributions are valued and that they make an impact.

What does the future hold?

In 2019, we will focus on building partnerships with stakeholders in the corporate and government sectors, showcasing alumni excellence in innovation and research, and showing the impact that alumni are making in industry, government and society. We will also vigorously expand engagement with alumni through a digital platform, which will be launched in February 2019.

We thank our alumni, USB and USB-ED’s leadership, and our partners the Institute for Futures Research (IFR) and USB’s Small Business Academy (SBA) for their support during the year. We look forward to an inspiring 2019.

Wishing you all a blessed, peaceful and joyous festive season and a meaningful 2019.

Christélle Cronjé

USB Alumni Office

December 2018

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Female entrepreneur wins SBA Awards

Female entrepreneur takes top honours at SBA Awards

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Female entrepreneur takes top honours at SBA Awards

Female entrepreneur wins SBA Awards

  • DEC 11 2018
  • Tags Entrepreneurs, small business, Small Business Academy, Alumni mentors

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The power of small enterprises to improve the lives of families and communities was demonstrated when 27 small business owners from low-income areas of greater Cape Town graduated from the sponsored Small Business Academy (SBA) programme of the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) on Tuesday, 4 December 2018.

Now in its sixth year, the SBA addresses that gap, in partnership with corporate sponsors who also share their inside business knowledge and experience with participants, creating networking opportunities and better understanding of the linkages between small and large businesses.

Each participant is mentored by a USB MBA alumnus, and many cite this as the most valuable part of the learning experience. Find out how you can become involved in the mentorship programme here.

At the ceremony the Top 3 small businesses were awarded.

Lisa Ndyalivani, 33, owner of WooWfoods, a mobile coffee shop taking hot coffee and healthy food to commuters, students and workers in Bellville, was named the Distell Top Student with the highest mark overall after completing the sponsored nine-month development programme aimed at empowering small business owners in disadvantaged areas to grow their businesses.

“We are very proud of how far the three winners and all the participants on the programme have come in just nine months through increasing their knowledge and gaining practical business skills.”
– Dr Marietjie Theron-Wepener

Proving that age is no barrier to starting up a business, Jacqueline Julie of Mitchells Plain celebrated her 50thbirthday along with winning the ABSA Best Business Plan award for her Xcelent Crunchies & Homebakes which has turned a part-time home-baking setup into a growing formal business that supports her family of eight.

Social entrepreneur Vincent Zokufa, 37, owner of ConnectUs ICT in Eerste River, was recognised for his innovative business model providing training and support to disadvantaged schools to use their IT resources more effectively, with the De Beers Business with Most Potential award.

USB SBA Awards 2018
Jacqueline Julie, Lisa Ndyalivani, and Vincent Zokufa.

SBA head Dr Marietjie Theron-Wepener said the three winners had in common a drive to succeed and had demonstrated the ability to innovate and adapt their businesses to changing circumstances – “an essential trait of entrepreneurs”, she said.

“What is especially exciting is to see that they, and other participants on the programme, are not just thinking about how to grow their own businesses but also how to share what they have learnt and create opportunities for others to get into business too. This is how small business becomes the economic engine that it should be,” Dr Theron-Wepener said.

When Lisa Ndyalivani realised two years ago that tourism was “too seasonal for sustainable income”, she tapped into the food truck trend and converted her tourist bus into a mobile kitchen that starts the day at 6am serving commuters at the Bellville taxi rank and then moving on to the University of the Western Cape (UWC) campus from mid-morning to late afternoon.

“When schools are closed and business is quiet, we move around industrial areas like Parow. Being mobile means we can go to wherever our customers are to be found.

“What sets us apart is a focus on healthy food, because street food can be very fatty and rely on processed foods. We practice healthy cooking – grilling our burgers instead of frying, using fresh salad ingredients in our brown bread sandwiches – and try to educate our customers,” she said.

The next step in her growing operation, which now employs two additional people, is to invest in a second vehicle to expand the operation to her birthplace of Khayelitsha and to develop a portable WooWfoods healthy foods stand that can create opportunities for unemployed youth to start their own businesses.

She said not only had the SBA honed her practical business skills, particularly in managing her finances better, marketing the business and becoming more operationally savvy, but she had also been inspired to continue with her education and has applied to do a postgraduate diploma in business next year.

Best business plan winner Jacqueline Julie supplemented the family income for more than 20 years selling home-baked crunchies and says turning it into a fully-fledged business “took a mind-shift, a realisation that I could build something lasting”.

Having made the shift, she said enrolling in the SBA was the logical next step: “Being exposed to the learning and business environment after being a stay-at-home mom for 20 years has made all the difference, especially the mentoring aspect. I know that I can still learn at 50 – it has been life changing.”

Although still in start-up stage, she said the business had grown “immensely” in the time she was participating in the SBA, with turnover leaping from R1,000 last November to a current R13,000 a month.

Julie sells her pre-packed crunchies, brownies and biscuits to retailers in her local area and through agents who earn commission, and her vision is to develop a replicable model to enable other women to set up home-based businesses.

“Everyone has something they can do, like I bake, but have no idea of what it takes to run a sustainable business. Now that I have learned that, I want to teach other women how – get the finance, operations, marketing all in place, along with a plan for them to follow,” she said.

Port Elizabeth-born Vincent Zokufa has a vision to make sure that no learner leaves school without the basic IT skills needed for employment or for coping with tertiary studies.

“We find schools in impoverished areas have ICT infrastructure, but no specialist to look after it and a situation where most of the equipment is not working, often due to minor issues, and no one knows how to fix it. Access for the learners to use the computers then becomes extremely limited and sometimes is restricted only to those taking computing subjects,” he said.

With a mission “about more than profit – it’s about ensuring access to technology for all”, ConnectUs keeps its fees relatively low and also differentiates itself by training a learner or former learner in each school to do the basic maintenance and look after computer labs.

“We open doors for these kids to a future career direction. The school pays them from their budget, and they become our troubleshooter on the ground, calling us in when they can’t solve a problem,” he said.

Zokufa and his small team work with about 12 no- and low-fee schools and have extended their services to website and content development, “helping schools to tell their story and attract the resources they need”.

He said the SBA had been instrumental in helping him to “shape the business side of the organisation – even if we are not purely profit-driven, we need to remain a sustainable, viable business”.

The future plan is to grow the base of schools being served by looking at a subscription model for schools while also expanding into servicing other small businesses to generate income to supplement the services to schools.

“We are very proud of how far the three winners and all the participants on the programme have come in just nine months through increasing their knowledge and gaining practical business skills,” Dr Theron-Wepener said.

“It’s widely accepted that small businesses are the engines of economic growth and employment, and offer a logical route out of poverty, but many don’t make it past their first year because they lack business skills and the know-how to access finance and markets,” she said.

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MBA alumnus reaches great heights with solid education foundation

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MBA alumnus reaches great heights with solid education foundation

  • OCT 24 2018
  • Tags MBA, alumnus, PhD, success, journey, business education

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MBA alumnus Dr Nombeko Patience Mbava recently completed her PhD degree in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences at Stellenbosch University, specialising in in Public and Development Management.

After achieving the USB MBA in 2009, Nombeko’s professional career soared to greater heights.  The MBA enabled her to have a holistic view and understanding of management as a discipline and to have an integrated view of business management.  With the MBA firmly under her belt, she built a strong corporate career as business strategist. In this regard she had to think strategically, assess information analytically, work with diverse teams, have strong financial acumen, lead from the front and communi­cate eloquently. All of these were lessons she learnt in the MBA classroom.

In this photo: Dr Nombeko Mbava, third from the left in front, at her graduation in December 2017.

Her early career as a business analyst contributed in  the optimisation of the fuel retail assets at oil giants such as  BP Southern Africa, Caltex Oil – later Chevron South Africa, and Sasol Oil. Her MBA research, under the supervision of Prof Hein Oosthuizen, investigated competitive strategies in forecourt convenience retailing assessing how convenience stores located on the service station forecourt can best be leveraged in order to improve profitability.

Dr Mbava has strong grounding as a visionary business leader with an ability to plan, research and benchmark future growth and trends and have the critical ability to work across organisational boundaries in a collaborative manner. The ability to present analytical conclusions and complex information effectively at all levels has been a core strength. This includes having an understanding of institutional capacity building and an orientation towards results, strong transformational leadership and continuous innovation.

Government’s call on all South Africans to roll up their sleeves to help build a capable state that delivers to all South Africans, resonated with Nombeko’s affinity to the servant leadership style.

Contributing to something far bigger than a simple focus on the business profit motive or creating shareholder value, propelled her to look at the bigger picture, seeing where and how she can contribute to the future. Stewardship for all public resources, good governance and accountability in the public sector are critical for the future sustainability of generations to come.

For several years, she served as the Governance and Planning Manager, reporting directly to the CEO, at the South African National Space Agency, where she led the organisational strategy development and execution, performance monitoring and evaluation. She later became the  Head of Planning, Risk, Intelligence, Monitoring & Evaluation), reporting directly to the CEO at the Technology Innovation Agency, where she provided strategic leadership and developed and directed the strategic focus for all activities related to organisational governance, strategic planning and risk management.

She has headed monitoring and evaluation units in public entities where she provided strategic leadership for all activities related organisational strategy development and governance, she found that impact evaluation expertise was outside government and this was a critical gap in the monitoring and evaluation capability of government. Through funding from the National Research Foundation, she pursued  her fulltime doctoral studies at the School of Public Leadership under the supervision of Dr Babette Rabie investigating impact evaluation methodologies, both theory and practices. She completed her doctorate over a 30 month period. The research focused on the potential value of the Realist Evaluation approach on programme impact evaluations in South Africa. She contributed an impact assessment model, applicable to African monitoring and evaluation contextual conditions, which advances evaluation findings that are useful and aid in evidence-informed policy making.

Dr Mbava is now a University Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow specialising in evaluation approaches within the School of Management Studies at the University of Cape Town. Exploring innovative Africa-centric evaluation approaches emanating from the Africa is critical within the broader debate of the indigenisation of evaluation practice on the African continent.

Dr Mbava is former board member of the South Africa Monitoring and Evaluation Association, where she contributed towards the development of a robust Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) landscape in South Africa.

She is currently a Trustee of Financial Services Conduct Authority(FSCA) Consumer Education Foundation. In 2017 she was appointed by the State President into the Board of the Media Development and Diversity Agency, in this role she serves as the Chairperson of the Research, Capacity Building, M&E Committee as a well as member of the Audit and Risk Committee.

Dr Mbava believes the USB MBA was the catalyst that changed her life trajectory and propelled her to greater heights of career success and satisfaction. The USB MBA to this day, enables her to engage with people from all walks of life in a warm and value-driven manner as she consistently serves the world with grace, humility and integrity.

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Contributing to agricultural finance in Afghanistan with USB’s MPhil in Development Finance – USB Alumnus

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Contributing to agricultural finance in Afghanistan with USB’s MPhil in Development Finance – USB Alumnus

  • JP Cronje
  • OCT 22 2018
  • Tags Development Finance, alumnus, MDevF, finance

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This article is written by USB alumnus Grant Norris

Studying for an MPhil in Development Finance (MDevF) at the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) was the best career investment I could have made. At the time of enrolling for my Master’s at USB, I was privileged to be part of an outstanding team at First National Bank (FNB) Commercial – yet felt the need to challenge myself outside of the corporate world.

Since graduating in 2007 I can look back and proudly claim to have walked the talk in my quest to become a development professional, working in the MENA region and South Asia for some of the world’s leading development companies on economic development and finance programmes.

At the end of September, I will finish my work supporting agricultural finance in Afghanistan to take up a Vice President position with Blue Orchard, a Swiss-based impact-investment fund manager, based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I cannot envisage any of this would have happened without that life changing decision to study for my Master’s degree at USB.

 Over the past five years, I’ve been working on a ground-breaking finance project in Afghanistan. Supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), in 2010 the project established an agricultural development fund to expand access to credit for the agriculture sector in Afghanistan.

The fund makes credit available to commercial farmers and agribusiness entrepreneurs through direct lending and also provides apex funds to microfinance institutions and other intermediaries that wish to enter into agriculture finance and integrating them as intermediaries of ADF funds – in particular to service the financing needs of farmers and micro/small agriculture enterprises.

In Afghanistan’s agriculture sector, there are significant gaps that exist between demand and the availability of agricultural financial services provided by formal institutions. A recent national survey found only 5% of farmers were likely to apply for credit from formal institutions. Also of significance is that SME agricultural borrowers receive a disproportionately small amount of the credit: only 10.6%, a number that underscores the difficulties for SME is to access credit.

Because of the enormous gap between demand for and supply of agricultural credit there are untapped financing opportunities across multiple value chains for those institutions willing to respond to the unique needs of agriculture.

The providers of formal agriculture credit include a variety of types of financial institutions, including commercial banks, microfinance institutions and non-bank financial intermediaries (NBFI). However, providing appropriate financial services and lending to farmers and agribusinesses presents challenges that multiply as financial institutions move from larger enterprises and high value chains to smallholder farmers and lower value crops.

“I cannot envisage any of this would have happened without that life changing decision to study for my Master’s degree at USB.”
– Grant Norris

As a technical lead advisor, a key focus area for me was to ensure the agricultural development fund successfully transitioned into a standalone, sustainable agricultural finance institution. This meant putting in place an effective strategy to accelerate lending to the agriculture while also addressing institutional capacity needs, such as:

  • Ensuring the fund was sufficiently capitalized and able to generate enough income to cover operating costs, thereby becoming financially sustainable;
  • Strengthening the funds’ governance structure, policies, procedures and safeguards with the purpose of streamlining day-to-day operations, while reducing the risk of political influence.

Today, functioning as a finance company, the fund performs its operations through a head office in Kabul, five regional offices and two satellite offices, employing 64 local staff. After nearly eight years of lending activities, the fund has lent a cumulative amount of USD 105 million with USD 20.2 million presently outstanding.

With a minimum loan size of $100,000, the fund originally exclusively targeted the larger end of the agricultural credit market with direct lending. It recently introduced smaller loan sizes, ($25,000 – $100, 00) to address the “missing middle”; those agricultural SMEs that are too small for most banks but too large for MFIs.  It has also introduced a special smaller loan for women, offering lower interest rates and maturities.

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Development Finance alumnus selected as Fellow at US university

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Development Finance alumnus selected as Fellow at US university

  • AUG 24 2018
  • Tags Alumni, SBA, mentor

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PGD in Development Finance alumnus Octavius Phukubye was awarded and selected as a Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow for the 2018-2019 academic year where he will be based in Michigan State University from 8 August 2018 until 07 June 2019.

While completing his Humphrey year, he would be focusing on start-up incubations, entrepreneurship education, innovation and small business development. He intends to share these skills with his own organisation and partners to stimulate economic growth, sustainable employment and overall quality of life for his country. The Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program provides young and mid-career professionals from selected countries around the world with a non-degree programme combining academic, leadership development and professional experiences directly related to their professional responsibilities in their countries.

Octavius is the co-founder of Brillianaire Consulting, a niche management consulting firm that specialises in designing enterprise and supplier development strategies/programmes, execution of technical assistance support to deliver socio-economic shared value. He is a former Supplier Development Manager within Barclays Group Sourcing where he was responsible for leading investment and B-BBEE transformation projects that focused on technology (software, hardware, services and telecoms). He is also a former South African Breweries (SAB) Economic Development Manager who was responsible for the overall management of Enterprise Development, and Socio-Economic Development policies, strategies and programme. He was instrumental in developing the SAB’s Women in Maize programme for emerging yellow maize farmers; and also served as the Enterprise Development Specialist at SAB, directly responsible for the overall management of the KickStart entrepreneurship programme.

He is also the Co-Founder of Mohlotlo Thuto Foundation, an NPO that nurtures academic excellence at high schools through innovative educational interventions in Sekhukhune, Limpopo. He is a former Management Consultant at Accenture South Africa Consulting Unit. He holds a B.Com Accounting from the University of Limpopo and a Postgraduate Diploma in Development Finance from USB, where he is currently pursuing an MPhil in Development Finance.

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small business

Small Business Coaching and Mentoring: Why I became involved – USB alumnus

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Small Business Coaching and Mentoring: Why I became involved – USB alumnus

small business

  • JP Cronje
  • AUG 24 2018
  • Tags Alumni, SBA, mentor

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Article written by JP Cronje, MPhil in Management Coaching alumnus and SBA mentor

The development and growth of people is always something that I was intrigued by. I was fortunate enough to be exposed to world class leadership and development initiatives during my corporate career. A benefit of working for a multi-national company is the level of investment in their employees and I was exposed to regular skills development and leadership development initiatives in order to enhance one’s managerial capabilities.

One of these interventions was when I was exposed to coaching for the first time in 2006. Coaching was introduced as a leadership style and management competency. Personally, I subscribed and could relate to the underlying principle of coaching that the focus should be on the individual and then the organisation would get the benefits of a developed, energised and motivated employee. This was when my coaching journey started and I became an internal coach followed by a number of coaching courses which concluded with the MPhil in Management Coaching from USB in 2015.

These development opportunities that I experienced always led me to ponder about small businesses and how they go about this type of development as they are invariably a one-man show or have very few staff. Money and time would also be an obstacle to people development.

When I decided to do my MPhil in Management Coaching and had to decide on a relevant topic to research I was once again triggered by the world of small businesses and the challenges of people development. This steered me to my decision of doing my research on small businesses and the coaching of SMEs.

A personal highlight that I have experienced as a mentor is the graduation of one’s mentee. That is when you realise that you have made a lasting contribution to the development of the participant.
– JP Cronje, MPhil in Management Coaching alumnus

The help and guidance from Dr Salome Van Coller-Peter, my supervisor, and Dr Marietjie Theron- Wepener, Head of the Small Business Academy, who encouraged me to do my research on the SBA where mentorship is an integral component, contributes to the development of the participants. The title of my research study was, The contribution of coaching and mentoring to the development of the participants in the Small Business Academy.

The literature review during my research further highlighted the unique dynamics and challenges entrepreneurs and small businesses face – particularly in the South African context. The challenges are not only limited to finance but skills and personal development as well.

A highlight and my first introduction to the SBA mentorship programme was the interviews I conducted with mentors and participants from the 2013 and 2014 SBA groups. From the outset I was humbled and inspired by the stories from the mentors and participants. The fact that I interviewed the participants at their respective places of work and ventures further exposed me to the challenges that these entrepreneurs face on a daily basis.

Feedback that continuously stood out during my research interviews with the participants were as follows:

  • How incredibly positive they experienced their mentorship.
  • Their mentors not only assisted with business skills but in personal development and growth too.
  • Many mentioned the fact that they would not have completed the SBA had it not been for the support and guidance of their mentor.
  • Most participants are still in regular contact with their mentor.

Feedback from the mentors highlighted the following:

  • How much they as mentors learnt from the experience considering that they came from an organized and process-driven corporate environment.
  • The exposure to a different environment they received from their mentee was liberating, insightful and educational.
  • How rewarding and satisfying it was for them to see their mentee grow not only in their business skills but in their personal development too.

Despite the findings from my research, it was in fact the gratitude and appreciation expressed from the participants about the mentors and the mentorship that stood out for me. This wonderful and fulfilling research experience inspired me to make a difference and therefore I decided to actively become a SBA mentor in 2016. A personal highlight that I have experienced as a mentor is the graduation of one’s mentee/participant. That is when you realise that you have made a lasting contribution to the development of the participant.

I am still involved with the SBA mentorship, but more in a facilitating capacity. Along with Dr Salome van Coller-Peter I am responsible for the recruitment and training of the mentors as well as the mentee training in the Western and Eastern Cape. We have also made a few refinements of the SBA which have been implemented with great success to improve the mentorship even more. We strive to continually refine and improve the mentorship programme.

Click here for more information about the SBA.

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Message from the USB Alumni Eastern Cape Chapter

Alumnet

Message from the USB Alumni Eastern Cape Chapter

  •  Simon Meyer
  • AUG 24 2018
  • Tags Alumni Chapter, Eastern Cape

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Our windy city has been buffeted by seasonal rains bringing some relief to our water situation. Cape Town will understand our plight and it’s good to see their water situation improving steadily.

It sometimes takes a water crisis to remind us what’s really important. The stresses and strains of work, the economy and our little fights begin to pale in comparison to not having enough water. Suddenly we become more mindful of wastage, exploring new opportunities for water from boreholes, innovating around our homes with water tanks, pumps and filters.

Indeed necessity is the mother of invention (or innovation).

Even as the trade wars begin to hot up and predicting cryptocurrency prices is more like Vegas and less like Wall Street and where, despite all this wealth, people are still less able to make ends meet and to live a decent life – we are still here.

These conditions should drive us (out of necessity) to greater innovation, better ways of doing things.

Developing the agile and creative minds of the largest youthful population, right here in Africa, is a starting point. The next generation of innovators and inventors are right here.

“Indeed necessity is the mother of invention (or innovation).”
– Simon Meyer, Chairperson of USB Alumni Eastern Cape Chapter

Our best hope is to harness our collective efforts to enable the youth. Instilling the right values and ethic is foundational. Whilst we tackle technical skills, we must build a strong base from which the young mind must draw guidance and direction from.

So let us challenge ourselves to do just a little bit more to provide opportunities for growth to a young person.

Greetings
Simon Meyer
USB Alumni Chapter Committee member: Eastern Cape
August 2018

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From SBA to MBA: ‘Never give up on your dreams’

Alumnet

From SBA to MBA: ‘Never give up on your dreams’

  • AUG 24 2018
  • Tags Alumni, Business, SBA, MBA

It was during 2011 that Rushana Hartnick started working towards her dream of having the first indoor, heated swimming pool in Mitchells Plain. She gained her experience as a swimming coach from working for a swimming school in the southern suburbs of Cape Town.

Water safety and swimming were not priorities in the community of Mitchells Plain as home owners do not have swimming pools.

This meant that Rushana needed the money to build the pool as well as the marketing skills to convince the community of the need for water safety skills and the benefits for their children when they take up swimming as a sport.

Her mother assisted her by taking out a second bond on their house during 2011. This cash injection allowed her to build the pool. She also won a small vehicle in a competition at a local grocery store which she sold to put a roof over the pool. Taking on the task of marketing her business she was able to open the doors of Little Mermaids Swimming School in February 2012. The first 35 swimmers enrolled.

Struggling to grow her swimming school, Rushana realised that she needed business skills and not only coaching skills. In 2014 she applied to participate in the Small Business Academy’s Development Programme at the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB). Here, she acquired the skills to run her business professionally.

She also had an MBA alumnus from USB as mentor to guide her through the decisions she had to make. During the nine months at the SBA she received media coverage in Sarie and Destiny magazines, and on TV programmes such as KOLLIG and DAGBREEK.

Rushana worked hard to implement what she had learnt from the SBA Development Programme. She started a crèche initiative during 2015 which involved picking up young children from crèches in the community for swimming lessons as most parents worked during the day and could not bring their little ones for lessons. This created a need for transport. Within a year, she bought a 22-seater bus which was paid off as the number of swimmers grew to 600.

During 2016 she won second place at the Western Cape Premier’s Entrepreneurship Recognition Awards in the category for the Most Innovative Business. The number of swimmers was now capped at 725 to ensure the ongoing delivery of quality service. The swimming school is currently employing 12 coaches, trained with Swim SA through the school.

The year 2017 turned out to be a difficult one due to the water restrictions. Rushana had to buy water from other areas to ensure the water in her swimming pool stays hygienic and does not become over-chlorinated. This put some financial strain on the business but she coped and did not have to let any employees go.

During this time, Rushana also started working on another dream by applying for the Postgraduate Diploma in Business Management and Administration (PGD BMA) at USB. She was accepted through the recognition of prior learning system with her SBA certificate and business experience giving her leverage.

Rushana is using 2018 to complete her PGD BMA while her husband stepped in as manager of the swimming school.

The PGD BMA, according to Rushana, is just a building block to reach her dream of doing her MBA at USB.

Here’s a video where she shares her PGD BMA experience so far

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