In many ways a new year is a new beginning, a time to dust yourself off and start fresh with the benefit of a little extra wisdom and experience. As we embark on 2019, it is important to reflect on our past as we determine the best way to secure success in the future.

Last year was a pivotal time for the SAB Foundation, during which we took a long hard look at our impact as an organisation. The lessons we learned as a result of these efforts will help us reach new heights in the coming year.

The SAB Foundation was set up with the goal of developing entrepreneurship in South Africa in order to contribute to the economic and social empowerment of historically disadvantaged persons. Since then, the foundation has invested in 2 375 entrepreneurs with a total of R239 million in grant funding and business support.

While these numbers might seem impressive, they don’t tell us whether this investment has impacted the lives of the people we set out to assist or brought us any closer to achieving our objectives.

With this in mind, last year we asked impact assessment experts to take a thorough look at our two flagship programmes, the Tholoana Enterprise Programme and the Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards. This was done by analysing detailed survey data from our 2014 to 2017 programme beneficiaries. Majority of the findings were extremely encouraging. 

Almost all of our beneficiaries are still actively developing their businesses or innovations which is particularly pleasing considering that most South African startups fail within their first year of establishment. Following their involvement with the foundation, our beneficiaries also showed an average increase in revenue and, between them, they now collectively employ more than 2 600 people. Results such as these indicate that, at the very least, we are moving in the right direction and contributing to economic and social empowerment by supporting entrepreneurship in South Africa.

However, while it is tempting to give ourselves a pat on the back and congratulate ourselves for a job well done, the data also casts light onto some of our shortcomings. Many entrepreneurs, for example, suggested improvements to the business skills development and mentorship provided by the foundation. This indicates a desire for further learning and development opportunities which the foundation must address if we are to maximise our impact.

Many entrepreneurs also reported having trouble with financial processes and cash flow management, despite these topics already being covered as part of the foundation’s training. Most start-ups have small budgets and lack financial reserves and, as a result, poorly managed cash flow can be devastating for a business. It is therefore important that we emphasise the importance of financial management in our training programmes and enhance the support we provide in this area.

Armed with a better understanding of our impact and how we can serve the needs of those we seek to empower, we are looking forward to even more success in the new year. And, to make sure that we remain on an upward trajectory, we will continue to measure our impact in the years to come.

To see our detailed Impact Reports, visit the Resources section of our website at www.SABFoundation.co.za/resources/