News

SMME’s funeral service proving profitable

SBA News & Events

SMME’s funeral service proving profitable

  • DEC 04 2018
  • Tags Small Business Academy, entrepreneurs, business

SHARE

Death may seem a grim business to some, but for young Cape Town entrepreneur Brendon Cozett, the country’s R10-billion-a-year funeral services industry is the path to achieving his life goals.

It’s not an easy path. Funeral services in South Africa are a highly competitive and largely unregulated industry, with an estimated 70,000 undertakers and 15,000 funeral parlours in operation, and formal businesses under pressure from mushrooming informal, often illegal, operators offering funerals on the cheap.

Cozett, 33, opened His Will Funeral Home two years ago, after working for his father since his teens in the family-owned funeral business in Colorado Park, Mitchell’s Plain, where he grew up.

Serving working-class families of Kuils River and surrounding areas from his base in Cape Town’s Airport Industria district is a far cry from headline-grabbing, big budget celebrity funerals but for Cozett it’s more important to be ensuring the departed are treated with respect and that even low-income families are able to give their loved ones a dignified farewell.

“I take the responsibility very seriously, of presenting the deceased as close as possible to the way their loved ones want to remember them, and giving them a dignified service. What matters most is that we aid in providing comfort to the bereaved, and that takes 100% attention to detail, no matter how small the budget,” he says.

With a staff of eight, a small fleet of vehicles and a mortuary on the premises, he’s taken the view that the ultra-low-budget market is not his playing field, but he can nonetheless garner a share of it by providing services, such as the mortuary, to the smaller operators.

In the face of increasing competition from small, informal undertakers and anticipating more regulation of the industry to protect the public from shady operators, Cozett has spent the past year honing his business skills and structuring his business to be competitive and sustainable.

He will complete the sponsored Small Business Academy (SBA) programme of the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) later this year, and says the training and mentoring offered by the programme had enabled him to view his business “from the outside in” and identify advantages and areas for improvement.

The SBA is a nine-month programme offered yearly to township entrepreneurs, and provides training in business fundamentals, networking opportunities and mentorship whereby each participant is matched with an alumnus of the USB’s MBA programme.

“I have learnt a lot about myself and about my business through the SBA. I’ve come to realise that there are many things about business that I didn’t know before starting out, so I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to learn them now and implement them into the future,” he said.

Cozett also recently completed a Services SETA programme to become accredited as a funeral practitioner and joined the funeral industry’s largest representative body, the National Funeral Directors Association of South Africa, which has a code of conduct and standards for doing business.

“I see these as essential steps to equip myself and the business to be in a good position when more regulation comes in,” he said.

 

Having started out washing cars for his father’s funeral business and later progressing to meeting with clients, writing up funeral policies and arranging funerals, the logical next step for Cozett was to open up his business, servicing his own clients and other undertakers, with mortuary services and “a one-stop-shop for all burial and cremation needs under one roof.”

As for the future, Cozett is confident that the groundwork he is laying now will see him growing to open more mortuaries and grow his client base to the level where he handles five to 10 funerals per week.

“Competition is good – I’m always up for a challenge,” he says.

Join the USB community

Keep up to date with the latest news, events and updates from USB

SUBSCRIBE NOW


township business

SBA participants joining forces in township business zone

SBA News & Events

SBA participants joining forces in township business zone

township business

  • SEP 27 2018
  • Tags Small Business Academy, entrepreneurs, business

SHARE

Undaunted by a lack of support for female entrepreneurs in Cape Town’s townships, a group of Khayelitsha business women simply set up their own organisation to empower women making their way in business in one of South Africa’s largest townships.

Sisters Wente and Letticia Ntaka and fellow entrepreneur Xoliswa Tsholoba set up the Women in Business Zone to pool their collective skills, knowledge and sometimes even finances, providing a sounding board on business challenges and enabling them to bid for larger-scale projects.

“We started the Zone because we saw that failure in our kind of business, and giving up on your dreams, is easy as there is no support base where you can talk about your problems and get advice from people who are walking the same road as you,” say the women.

The Zone has since expanded to five members, and they’ve been instrumental in a further four local women setting up their own businesses, while Wente, 48, Letticia, 45, and Xoliswa, 55, were selected to participate in the Small Business Academy (SBA) of the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB).

“We have come to understand that greed is not the solution to building our businesses. Good business values mean that when one has a problem, we sit down and discuss it to find a solution.”

The SBA is a sponsored programme that takes 30 – 40 township entrepreneurs a year through a nine-month course offering training in business fundamentals, networking opportunities and mentorship whereby each participant is matched with an alumnus of the USB’s MBA programme.

The biggest success to date of the trio’s collaborative approach was becoming the first black women to install fibre-optic cables in Khayelitsha. Their first contract for 500m of trenching and pipe-laying last year was so well executed that it led to them being contracted for more work in Khayelitsha and Eerste Rivier and employing approximately 50 people on the project.

“It wasn’t easy work to get,” says Xoliswa, whose company specialises in construction. “Construction is seen as men’s work. We know we have the knowledge, the skills and the people to do the work, but we still have to convince people we can do it.”

Now engaged in a home-building contract in Khayelitsha, says she enjoys the “tough business” of construction because it enables her to create employment for others. “Paying my employees always puts a smile on my face,” she says.

That notion of sharing and working cooperatively in a competitive environment is central to the idea of the Women in Business Zone, and all three women agree that supporting and learning from each other has not only strengthened their self-esteem as businesswomen but also contributed to growing their individual businesses.

“We have come to understand that greed is not the solution to building our businesses. Good business values mean that when one has a problem, we sit down and discuss it to find a solution.

“Each of us has specific skills – one might be good at filling out tender documents and another at compiling quotes – and so we sit down together and work out how to approach a project,” says Xoliswa.

Letticia Ntaka, who has a catering business, echoes this: “We each have our own separate businesses that we focus on, but there are a lot of challenges for women in business, and we found that working together, sharing ideas, supporting and advising each other, just makes it easier.”

She says their group approach strengthens tender and project bids, and applications to government for support such as training or funding.

“As a woman in business, you can’t just focus on only one thing – you must always be on the lookout for opportunities and be willing to change direction if what you are doing is not working,” says Letticia.

“We want other women to see the strength we have working as a team, and the fact that not having a university education didn’t stop us from being businesswomen and making a difference in our community.”

This means that while she focuses on catering, her sister Wente on cleaning and Xoliswa on construction, if a big project comes along, all will multi-task and pitch in to deliver to the client’s needs. This can even mean one of the women providing bridging finance to get another’s contract off the ground, or lending equipment to each other to save costs on hiring.

The Zone members meet monthly to exchange ideas and advice, set up their own training workshops and mentoring for other women in business in the area, and bring lessons back to the group from workshops and training they’ve attended outside the township.

They make a point of hiring unemployed women on their projects, and for those interested in setting up their own businesses, the group walks them through the process of business registration and compliance, and offers mentoring.

“Other disadvantaged women in Khayelitsha can see that it is possible to do something – you don’t have to sit at home just because you don’t have a job. We want other women to see the strength we have working as a team, and the fact that not having a university education didn’t stop us from being businesswomen and making a difference in our community,” says Wente.

With their motto “giving up is not an option”, all three highlight the financial knowledge and marketing skills they have gained through the SBA programme, and all three have big dreams to take their businesses further.

Xoliswa’s vision is to expand the Zone to a national business network, while caterer Letticia sees herself operating Khayelitsha’s first hotel in the next 10 years, and Wente dreams of taking her studies further to a business management degree and having a food distribution company to compete nationally.

Join the USB community

Keep up to date with the latest news, events and updates from USB

SUBSCRIBE NOW


small business

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

SBA News & Events

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

small business

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

SHARE

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.

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.

SHARE

Join the USB community

Keep up to date with the latest news, events and updates from USB

SUBSCRIBE NOW


Helping small businesses to grow

SBA News & Events

Helping small businesses to grow

helping-small-businesses-to-grow

  • JAN 06, 2013
  • Tags Technology, Business, News, University

SHARE

​The University of Stellenbosch Business School launched its Small Business Academy in May 2012. The first cohort of 23 participants from Khayelitsha, Cape Town, have started with their business development programme, which started in March 2013.

About the SBA

The SBA’s nine-month business development programme for small business owners includes training in financial management, business plan writing, personal development, mentoring, coaching and workshops.

Marietjie Wepener, deputy director: Business Development, Marketing and Communication at the USB who heads up the initiative, says with the SBA the USB has an opportunity to make a real difference to the lives and businesses of small business owners in Khayelitsha and other communities.

“For years, the USB has been working with small business people in Khayelitsha on various projects. It was only natural for us to start there.”
Wepener says without the corporate sponsors, the SBA would not have turned into a reality.

“Our large corporate sponsors – ABSA and Distell Foundation at this stage – sponsor among other things, the curriculum development, training programme, learning material and mentorship training.”

The SBA participants

The application process for the first cohort of participants started in December 2012. Edith Kennedy, manager of the SBA office, says criteria for the SBA programme includes that applicants have to be older than 25 and that their businesses in Khayelitsha must be at least 12 months old.

After shortlisting, EQ-i testing by JVR Consulting, interviews by the selection committee and a second round of evaluations by the SBA Academic Committee, a first group was chosen. JVR Consulting sponsors the psychometric tests for this programme.

The final 23 participants represent small businesses from industries such as food retail, clothing manufacturing, education, beauty and grooming, waste removal and music. Seven participants are female and sixteen are male.

The SBA mentors
USB alumni are instrumental in the SBA programme by volunteering to be mentors for the participants. Based on EQ-i tests and interviews, 23 SBA mentors were chosen.
Says Kennedy: “Because the mentors are experienced business people who have either done a degree with USB or a comprehensive course with USB-ED, they are there to advise the participants on how to grow their businesses.”

The future of the SBA

Wepener says the USB hopes that more corporate sponsors will see the value of this small business development programme and will work with the USB. “With more funding, the USB will be able to expand the programme to other communities and to add a research leg to the SBA.”
Two SBA participants explain why they applied for the USB’s Small Business Academy

“I do not know how to market my business and how to save money. I want to grow my business and I need help with that.” – Norma Mokharinyane, Siziphandela Clothing (clothing retail business)

“I want to grow our music group, Heavenly Quartez, into an event management business. I want to learn how to market the group as a brand, manage the finances and manage the group as a business. – Nkumbuzo Nkonyana, Heavenly Quartez (music entertainment business)
Two SBA mentors share why they volunteered to be mentors

“To contribute to the development of the country and to apply the knowledge I obtained in the MBA to help small business owners.” – Karen Louw, USB MBA alumnus and senior audit specialist, Actuarial, Old Mutual Group Internal Audit

“With my experience and the knowledge gained during my MBA studies, I can make a difference to people’s lives and assist them to become successful. I also hope to grow my own ability as a business coach.” – Phumudzo Baloyi, USB MBA graduate and technical director and regional manager at Goba Consulting Engineers.

SHARE

Join the USB community

Keep up to date with the latest news, events and updates from USB

SUBSCRIBE NOW