SAB Foundation Tholoana Enterprise Programme participants share their stories

 Applications for the SAB Foundation Tholoana Enterprise Programme are currently open. We sat down with two past participants to find out about their experiences of applying to the programme and how the programme has helped them become better entrepreneurs

RC Infinity: Yagen Naicker, class of 2017

RC Infinity: Yagen Naicker, class of 2017

Being an entrepreneur is not easy. It comes with many challenges but, when times get tough, the dreams that motivated me to start my business encouraged me to keep going. I remember, when I started, I had little knowledge of how to run a business which is one of the reasons I applied for the Tholoana Enterprise Programme.

I found the application form to be quite lengthy but easy to understand and there was a friendly group of people I could call, whenever I had a query with any of the questions.

I was excited to be chosen for Personal Transformation and Strategic Planning workshop In Johannesburg and learnt so much from the mentors and business experts who talked to us about entrepreneurship, finance, passion and commitment.

After the workshop, the SAB Foundation together with Fetola came to visit my business and I had the opportunity to show-off my drones.

When I was confirmed as being a participant on the programme, I got the opportunity to learn about finance, marketing, people management and costing and pricing through workshops facilitated by business management professionals. I was also paired with a mentor who helped me structure my business correctly, overcome obstacles and challenges and helped me with my confidence.

Everyone at the SAB Foundation and Fetola are ready to help with a word of motivation, listen to my challenges and provide helpful solutions.

My advice to small businesses who are thinking of applying is to, just do it. You won't regret it and the benefits are exceptional.

Kono Authentic: Given Monaise , class of 2017

Kono Authentic: Given Monaise , class of 2017

I am the founder and owner of Kono Authentic, a vintage leather brand which sells products such as leather belts, bags and wallets, all proudly made in South Africa. 

Growing up, I was always an entrepreneur at heart. I started my business selling clothes from Turkey to my local community in Alexander. However, I had a bigger vision and also wanted to get involved in the design and manufacturing process. In 2013 I opened my own clothing brand, Kono Authentic.

 I read about the Tholoana Enterprise Programme online and was immediately attracted to the prospect of learning to manage and grow my business. 

 I was so happy when I was accepted onto to the programme. I attended all the workshops and I knew exactly how I would incorporate all my learnings, from the basics of financial management, to sales and marketing to improve my business. However, the best part was connecting with other small business owners and finding out we all had similar challenges.

 I was granted R220 000 in funding from the SAB Foundation to further develop my business. With this, I was able to buy more equipment which helped me improve my product quality, increase production and grow my work force. This resulted in me increasing my business income by 30%.

 I truly believe that all small business owners who meet the SAB Foundation criteria must apply, It will make an Incredible difference to your business.

 For more information about the SAB Foundation Tholoana Enterprise Programme and to apply, please visit: https://sabfoundation.co.za


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Andile Ngwenya was born and raised in Ladysmith, an isolated and rural area with limited resources in KwaZulu-Natal. Owning a farm was never Andile's dream but today his farm supplies some of the biggest supermarkets, like Spar, with fresh vegetables every month.

Andile Ngwenya founded Bumbanani Mantimande Farm back in 2015, along with his older brother, Simanga. Growing up, both brothers helped their father with farming by going with him to the nearby field where he grew vegetables for the family to eat. Andile wasn't fond of this chore and decided that he would do well at school, work in an office and never plant anything again.

For six years, Andile worked as an IT specialist at a local government office in KwaZulu-Natal but realised he was a farmer at heart. He resigned from his job and started his own journey as a farmer and an entrepreneur.

Andile shares that starting the business was a daunting and stressful experience. The brothers didn’t have any business knowledge and only basic knowledge about farming. They learnt about how a business is run and worked hard to ensure the business was a success. As an initial investment, both brothers cashed out on their savings and retirement funds to buy a tractor and a bakkie to assist in running the daily operations.

Starting with just two hectares of farm land the brothers initially only grew sugar beans and between 2015 and 2016 suffered drought conditions, which made it hard to grow crops and generate an income. They could not afford to employ anyone and worked the land themselves.

Now three and a half years into their business the two brothers regret nothing about their decision. They are grateful, even for the hard times which made them realise how much the business meant to them. They now look back and are thankful that they didn't give up.

In 2017, Bumbanani Mantimande Farm was accepted as a participant in the SAB Foundation Tholoana Enterprise Programme, which they say changed their lives. “We thank the SAB Foundation for accepting us in the programme, before joining we were running the business like it was a Spaza shop but through the SAB Foundation we managed to register the business and formalise it by complying with SARS”, explains Andile.

With the funding they received from the SAB Foundation they bought equipment for the business which included a travelling rolling irrigator which made it easier to irrigate 10 to 20 hectares of land in a week. “Before we bought this travelling irrigator, we used a drip irrigator which we had to move around the farm to water the vegetables. We also used buckets to manually water the vegetables,” he says. They also bought computers for the business which helped them with business documents and farm management.

The farm now employs 10 permanent and 20 part-time employees. “It is truly amazing to see how this business is growing, we started out by planting just sugar beans, but since joining the programme, we have managed to buy more land and create jobs. We started with two hectares and we now have 30, allowing us to plant more vegetables, including green peppers, cabbages, spinach, peppadews and this, year we are starting to plant potatoes,” says Andile.

Andile is passionate about empowering people in his community and does this by employing only people from the area. He hopes this will assist in combating the high unemployment rate. He also mentors the youth in his community by training them to become entrepreneurs. With the help of the SAB Foundation, Andile explains that their turnover increased from R100 000 for two seasons to R300 000 per season.

Andile encourages people to go for their dreams and believes anything is possible regardless of the community or background you come from as long as you don't give up when you are faced with adversity.



Bontle Tshole is the owner and founder of Baaa Smoothie, a health bar situated in Boksburg, Johannesburg, which specialises in delicious, fast food alternatives for health-conscious consumers.

Bontle was inspired to start a healthy food bar to address lifestyle illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension, which she believes are neglected issues in South Africa. Her goal was to start a business which would help people enjoy healthy meals but not compromise on taste.

“Changing the narrative surrounding healthy eating involves a great amount of consumer education as well as providing healthier food alternatives," explains Bontle.

Baaa Smoothie was founded two years ago with them selling only smoothies. Their focus on business development and growth has helped them expand their range to include energy chocolate balls, granola bars and delicious wraps.

Bontle admits that the entrepreneurial journey was not easy and says that she had to negotiate many challenges to get to where she is today. She believes that being part of the SAB Foundation Tholoana Enterprise Programme helped her grow her business and achieve success.

According to Bontle, the Tholoana Enterprise Programme workshops were eye-opening for her and essential to the business. “The month before we joined the programme, we had a good month reflecting R50 000, but the first income statement we did at the workshops the following month, reflected an income of only R650. We have since grown to an average income of R12 000 a month and are working at increasing this at a maintainable pace," explains Bontle.

Baaa Smoothie employs six part-time employees and they expect to employ an additional full-time employee during the next 12 months.

Baaa Smoothie provides its services to markets, corporate events and private functions. They also take online orders and are working towards moving into the retail space. In the next five years, Bontle plans to have opened outlets across South Africa which will serve a variety of delicious health foods.

Bontle is a woman who is not afraid to reach for the sky, she is goal driven and has big plans for her business. "I am inspired by the people who get up every day and continue striving towards their dreams.”, Bontle concludes.

Visit their Instagram page HERE


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Ejoobi is a tech platform that allows job seekers in rural areas, without internet access, to send their CVs to recruiters via SMS or USSD. Job seekers also receive cloud storage, alerts and job adverts via the platform. The system further enables employers to access and connect with off-line candidates, publish jobs via SMS and USSD, conduct surveys, gain market insights and create job seekers database.

Founders, Simangele Mphahlele and Moses Mphahlele were motivated to start Ejoobi after meeting an individual they refer to as Thabo. Thabo was a job seeker and, as a result of not having internet access in his area, he would regularly spend almost R850 a month travelling to his nearest internet café to search for jobs online. This limited his capacity to look for jobs and meant that he often missed out on opportunities.  

 “Thabo had to travel from the semi-rural area of Moletjie to Seshego to search and apply for jobs. He belongs to the LSM group 1 to 6 that has limited access to internet which means that he can’t always be online to email CVs and connect with employers,” explains Ejoobi founder Simangele Mphahlele. 

 In a digital age where recruitment is predominantly carried out online Ejoobi’s founders saw a way to bridge the gap between recruiters and job seekers without internet access. 

“Approximately six million job seekers are discouraged from finding employment because of the associated costs. Our platform aims to give those job seekers hope,” adds Simangele.

She explains that the name Ejoobi is derived from the township colloquial slang for job, ‘ijob ijob’ which is often used by people who are looking for work. 

 Ejoobi received a R500 000 Development Award during the SAB Foundation Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards in 2018. Simangele says that their primary reason for applying to the awards was to boost their brand’s visibility and gain credibility.

“We wanted to be part of the SAB Foundation ecosystem because they add value to their social entrepreneurs. We are now getting opportunities from other social platforms, and because the SAB Foundation does a thorough screening process, we find other platforms trust our capability,” she says. 

  With the help of funding from the SAB Foundation, they have grown their team and they now employ five interns and four full-time employees. This has enabled them to register more than 1 018 users on their platform as well as build a database of 3 005 job seekers who receive weekly job notifications. 73 candidates also got their very first job interview through Ejoobi.

“Ejoobi is now able to move onto their second phase of development, during which they plan to focus on growing the business. The goal is to make Ejoobi financially sustainable by bringing more recruiters or employers onto the platform. We also want to grow our jobseeker users to 25 000 by 2022,” says Simangele.

Between them, Ejoobi’s founders share a huge amount of experience and expertise. Simangele has a BA Hons in Applied Psychology and the two other founders have a B.Tech in Pharmacy and a Masters Degree in Infomatics. They all share a love for maths, science and technology and have always been curious about solving challenges in communities using technology.

 Simangele provides the following advice for budding social innovators who are interested in learning from Ejoobi’s success.

“Work on your innovation every day, and a path will reveal itself. Consistently measure your impact and progress and break down your goals into smaller portions so you are not stretched too much and don’t get overwhelmed,” she says. 



Growing up, Ntuthuko stayed with his grandparents who had a few cows which were the bedrock of the family finances and each year they sold a cow which payed for his mother’s university education. It was during his childhood that Ntuthuko realised what an important role the cows played in his family and the historical power they held in the African financial system. He saw a gap in the market and he thought of how he could re-invent cattle ownership in a digital age. It was from this realisation that GrassBeef by Livestock Wealth was born.

GrassBeef by Livestock Wealth is a shared farming service that buys, cares for and sells free-range, grass-fed beef. The business purchases young calves from communal farm lands and transports them to their commercial farm, where the animals are cared for and nurtured. They are then resold, but remain at the GrassBeef farm where they are looked after on behalf on their new owners for a small monthly fee.

This farming technique provides a reliable source of income to herdsmen, who are responsible for the cattle’s care and communal farmers, from which the cattle are sourced, while allowing those who don’t have access to land to own their own cattle and produce healthy, organic, hormone free beef. The ownership period of the cow could either be over six, twelve or twenty- four months term with an option to re-invest, this method is very similar to a fixed bank deposit.

“GrassBeef is a short hand name for grass-fed beef. These cows are allowed to grow naturally without the use of artificial growth stimulants. GrassBeef is the ethical alternative to beef production where cattle are sourced from farmers who need a market and then raised in humane facilities until they are ready to market as beef,” shares Ntuthuko.

Last year, at the Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards, Ntuthuko was the overall winner for the Social Innovation Award and won R1.3 million to further develop his business. He shares that when he was announced as the winner, he was overwhelmed with excitement and could not believe that it was his name that had just been announced.

“I think the pictures tell the story better. I waved the award in the air oblivious to the lighting fixture directly above me. It made a lovely chiming sound as I screamed for joy in the moment. Luckily nothing broke, but had anything broke I would have been able to pay it from my winnings”, says Ntuthuko as he reminisces about the moment.

Looking back on his journey and how he started his business, Ntuthuko shares that he can only feel a sense of pride and joy when he looks at how much his business has grown. “I sometimes just stand in the farms and look at the cattle roaming around, and I can’t believe that it is all me”, he says. He further explains he believes that the SAB Foundation played a major role in the growth of his business. “I don’t think I would be where I am now, if it wasn’t for the funding and business support I received from the foundation. Before the programme I had 600 cows under management, I now have 1 600 cows within twelve months” he explains.

Ntuthuko further shares that the SAB Foundation not only assisted with funding but it also helped shape him as an entrepreneur. He claims to have a better understanding of how to handle his business administration and how to persevere through the most difficult times in business. He explains that he is forever grateful to the SAB Foundation for making him part of the family. Through the workshops he attended, he was able to learn more about setting processes and procedures in place, something he was never really good at before.

With the funding, he received from the Social Innovation Awards Ntuthuko bought a new cattle truck which has assisted enormously with transporting the cows and saved him a lot of time and money. He also hired more staff members including an in – house development team which has assisted in developing web platforms. Previously he had to outsource these services at a great expense to the business. Prior to winning the award he only had six employees however, he now has 17 people providing a valuable share of income within his community.

He admits that it has taken time for his business to grow but he is glad he never gave up on himself and his dream. He advises anyone who has a dream of starting their own business to find their passion and follow it in order to start a successful business. “Finding your passion means finding a societal problem that makes you want to address and make you with itch with resolving it.  That itch is the fuel that will drive you until your business becomes profitable and beyond” says Ntuthuko.

In conclusion, Ntuthuko shares that he has bigger plans for his business and he is currently working very hard to achieve them, in three – five years’ time, Ntuthuko envisions his business to have expanded into at least 10 African countries and managing 100 000 cows.


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Clothes to Good was founded by Jacendra (Jesse) Naidoo in 2011. This is a hybrid social enterprise consisting of Clothes to Cash Exchange (Pty) Ltd and Life Link 24/7 Cares NPO which provides sustainable jobs and micro-business opportunities for people with disabilities and their families through a clothing recycling programme. 

Last month, during the recent SAB Foundation Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards 2018, Clothes to Good was the overall winner for the Disability Empowerment Award taking home R1.2 million in funding. 

According to Jesse, Clothes to Good was started ‘unintentionally’ while he was trying to raise funds for his golf caddy of 10 years who had lost his job at the golf course. After contacting his son’s school about a second-hand clothing drive to raise funds, the school brought in over four tonnes of clothes which he bought from them so they could have funds to complete a library at another school. 

This is how the Clothes to Good business model started. He realised that this business model could evolve to exit people from poverty. A year later, Jesse met a social entrepreneur who opened his eyes and educated him about the huge challenges people with disabilities face when trying to find employment in South Africa. He then decided to include people with disabilities in his programme to empower them with meaningful, purposeful and paid work. 

Through all the financial challenges that Jesse faced, he never gave up on his dream to empower people living in poverty. Last year, he applied for the SAB Foundation Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards after partnering with Tammy Greyling, an Occupational Therapist who is passionate about employment for people with disabilities. A few months later he received confirmation that as a team, they were accepted into the programme. “When we received the news, we felt really blessed. After eight years of failures and successes, we were  so relieved and thankful”, says Jesse.

When asked how it felt like the moment Clothes to Good name had been called at the recent Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards, he said “I didn’t initially hear our name called! It was only when my business partner, Tammy grabbed my arm and said, “Let’s go” that it dawned on me we won, describes Jesse.

Jesse explains that winning the R1.2 million will help him take the business to the next level.  “The grant funding will be used to double our recycling capacity to source over 20 tonnes of clothes per month through our programmes. This will empower an additional 20 people with disabilities at our facility and increase the number of micro- business opportunities for people with disabilities and their families.”

He says that the funding will also assist Clothes to Good in expanding the new ECD project where toys are made from unusable clothing and other recyclable materials to empower teachers/caregivers through training and children through more educational resources. They also plan to expand their operations to Durban and Cape Town within the next three years.

Jesse encourages people who have a similar dream of starting their own business to go ahead and take the risk and not back down when they experience failure along the way.

“A person who fails in business is probably the best person to invest in. Those failures have given them skills that can’t be taught in business school. They also have what many people lack, the courage to try and the passion to succeed”, Jesse explains.

After just eight years, Clothes to Good has done a phenomenal job to serve its beneficiaries. They have empowered over 100 staff, contractors, volunteers, and registered over 300 micro- businesses, 55 of which are consistently active. They have also educated 200 000 children and their teachers about the environmental impact of the clothing sector and the plight of people with disabilities to become contributing members of societ


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Having recently won the SAB Foundation Social Innovation Award, 2019 is set to be a good year for Sowetan entrepreneur Nhlanhla Ndlovu and his innovative affordable housing business, Hustlenomics.

 “Hustlenomics is a for profit impact driven social enterprise that focusses on creating opportunities for women and youth by training them to replace informal backyard shacks with durable structures using alternative building technology,” explains Nhlanhla.

The business focusses on providing formal buildings for low income households who cannot get access to traditional home financing. Once the formal structures are completed, Hustlenomics splits the rental income with the land owner until construction costs have been recuperated, after which full ownership is handed over.

“In this way, we are able to create sustainable income for the households, while creating affordable rental accommodation for low income earners,” explains Nhlanhla. 

Nhlanhla also provides valuable employment opportunities to vulnerable members of his community, training them to build houses using sustainable construction methods.

“We train women in our local community by teaching them how to manufacture sustainable bricks using sand and 10% cement. This method both costs less and is three times faster to manufacture. We also teach them to build sustainable houses using those bricks,” he says.

Last year, Nhlanhla entered the SAB Foundation’s Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards which rewards social innovators whose businesses or products assist in the creation of a better lives and a more prosperous nation.

According to Nhlanhla, he plans on using his winnings to purchase a brick making machine that can produce up to 4 500 bricks a day. He also wants to purchase a truck for his business, which will help him transport his bricks and other sustainable materials and speed up his production capabilities. These acquisitions will help Nhlanhla reach his ambitious business goals which include employing up to 50 women and youth and building up to three new houses a month, within the next three years.

When asked how he felt when he won the award, Nhlanhla said, “it was a very humbling experience because I didn’t really think I’d win. I was excited and shocked but also extremely relieved.”

As well as funding the SAB Foundation Social Innovation Awards provide tailored business support. Nhlanhla intends on using the opportunity to develop and refine his business model as well as develop business management systems like HR and financial management.



Rushana Hartnick is the founder and director of Little Mermaids Swim School situated in Mitchells Plain, Cape Town. The school, which started out in 2012, teaches children and adults the basics of swimming. Prior to 2012, Rushana was a swimming instructor at a suburban school in Cape Town but her dream was to help the children in her area who didn’t have access to a pool, learn to swim.

Her mother was the first person to invest in her business and then, in 2011, she won a bakkie in a competition which she was able to sell to start her swim school. By February 2012, she had a heated pool at the front of her mother’s house and had 35 swimmers signed up.

Rushana’s belief in her dream has kept her motivated. She was born and raised in Mitchells Plain and says that many of her neighbors thought that, in order to be successful, they needed to travel outside the area. Through her efforts, she believes that she has inspired some community members to start their own local businesses. She also employs locals as swimming instructors and is happy to be able to contribute to upliftment in the area.

When Rushana started, she didn’t know much about owning and managing a business. She struggled with the business administration as she didn’t have the necessary knowledge and experience. That is when she decided to study and in 2014, she enrolled at the Stellenbosch Business School’s Small Business Academy, which helped her establish a foundation for her business and learn how to structure it in a way that would work for her. In 2016, she was accepted onto the SAB Foundation Tholoana Enterprise Programme, which Rushana believes has contributed significantly to the successful development of her business.

“Being part of the programme has really helped me and my business. I was fortunate to get a mentor that truly understands me and the workshops allowed me to further develop my business knowledge. I was never good at finances but through the workshops I was able to change that. I am now on top form and I have a better understanding of financial matters,” says Rushana.

With the funding, she received from SAB Foundation, Rushana invested in a better filtration system for her swimming pool, which enabled her to accommodate more swimmers.
Little Mermaids now services 500 swimmers a week, including 15 schools who use the swimming school for extra mural activities. She has employed eight permanent members of staff who are all from Mitchells Plain and her turnover growth has increased by 152% in the past year. This is something that Rushana is really proud of and she looks back at her journey with a happy and grateful heart, not only because she has grown her turnover, but also because she is the first person to open a heated indoor swimming centre in Mitchells Plain – which is open all year round.

According to Rushana, her journey was not an easy one and she had to overcome many challenges. “The most recent challenge was the drought that we experienced in the Western Cape. We had to source alternative water as we couldn’t use municipal supplies. This became very expensive, exhausting and created havoc at our swimming school. We also had people resigning because they were uncertain about their jobs,” she explains.

However, she is now in the process of recruiting new staff members for the summer season. She believes her business survived because she had the help of a mentor from the SAB Foundation and collectively they came up with strategies for how to handle the drought. Rushana also relies on the support of her husband and hard-working team of employees to help her keep things running smoothly, particularly when she is at school studying.

Rushana is a woman who knows what she wants, she is passionate about her business and improving the lives of those in her community. In the next three to five years, she sees her business growing on a much bigger scale and believes that her school is set for further development. She envisions her swimming school having a swimming club, hosting swimming galas, water safety programmes and participating in an international exchange programme for instructors and swimmers.

Rushana concludes by encouraging anyone who wants to start their own business to definitely go for it and follow their passion. Her top tip for any entrepreneur is, “be focused, be open to learn every day and always believe in yourself”.


Thabo Ntswane

Thabo Ntswane is the founder and managing director of Thabo Equipment and Tools Hire. Thabo hails from, Soshanguve but relocated to Polokwane where he held a full-time job as a civil engineer. Thabo’s desire to start his own company was born out of his passion for change and independence.

When he started his enterprise in 2013, he hired out construction tools and equipment to local businesses in Polokwane and neighboring towns. He didn’t have enough money to buy new machinery and instead he bought second hand machinery which he repaired for rental purposes.

Thabo’s driving vision with his business is to make a positive economic impact in his community and beyond. He wanted to empower the people in his community and also grow himself as an entrepreneur. Thabo admits that starting a business was not easy. His biggest challenge was finances and the lack of capital he needed to get his business off the ground.

Thabo’s other biggest challenge was not being able to easily establish himself in the market. “People never believe in a small business so it was hard for me to compete with well established businesses” says Thabo. Despite all the hardships, he never gave up on his dream he was determined to overcome all challenges to make it work.

When Thabo started his entrepreneurship journey, he confesses that he didn’t have enough knowledge about running a business and as a result, he often struggled with basic administration and finances for his business, simply because he didn’t have enough business knowledge. He decided to apply to the SAB Foundation Tholoana Enterprise Programme after reading about it in a local newspaper and was accepted onto the programme in 2016.

When I was accepted on the programme I was very happy because I knew that this is what my business needed in order to grow and for me to also grow as an entrepreneur”, says Thabo. He explains that after he was part of the SAB Foundation Tholoana Enterprise Programme things really improved for the business. “Being part of the programme enabled me to grow my business and now I also build and install wendy houses”.

Thabo says he is now a confident entrepreneur and explains that the SAB Foundation assisted him with more than just funding. Through the workshops and mentorship that he received from the programme, he was able to develop into a confident entrepreneur, properly handling his finances in a number of areas, from paying tax to registering his employees and also ensuring that he gets a salary each month. Thabo shyly admits that he always thought whatever money came into the business was his income and has since learnt the appropriate way to run a successful business.

From the SAB Foundation, Thabo received R 250 000 which enabled him to buy essential tools for his business including, the machinery he now uses to build the wendy houses. He is very pleased with the growth of his business which has enabled him to employ more staff. Before the programme, Thabo only had two employees but he now has 20 permanent staff members in Polokwane and 15 casual employees in three other regions.

 Thabo is very proud of what he has achieved over the past four and a half years. He admits that while his journey was not an easy one he would encourage any entrepreneur to follow their dreams. “When starting a business from scratch, be willing to build up a brand. Forget about the profit and also know what you want and focus only on that” he advises to all entrepreneurs.

Thabo concludes by saying the SAB Foundation played an integral part in the success of his business and with their helped he has managed to triple profits in a short period. His final advice to all young entrepreneurs is to find a mentor who is as passionate about your business as you are and always be open to learning.


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Rural Hand Bikes are especially designed to be easily assembled and disassembled for wheelchair users. Hand Bikes, a recipient of R400 000 at last year's Disability Empowerment Awards, currently produces two models that simplify transfer and accessibility to and from a wheelchair. The basic design, made with easily maintainable and robust parts, makes this product unique and affordable for individuals living with a disability.

Watch the video below to find out more from founder, Schalk van der Merwe.



Ashley Mentoor and his business, Flowers Direct, are participants of the SAB Foundation Tholoana Enterprise Programme. Since embarking on the programme, his business has expanded, allowing him to grow more flowers, streamline operations and take on more staff.

Ashley Mentoor had always loved nature and knew from an early age that he wanted to be involved in a business to do with plants. In 1998, the year that he had just come to the end of his studies in Horticulture, he faced a traumatic car accident. The recovery process was long, and he sold seedlings to earn money.

This business grew to become Flowers Direct – the company which supplies magnificent flowers and seedlings to customers in both Stellenbosch and Paarl.

Ashley heard about the SAB Foundation from the local municipality, and is quick to explain how the funding changed his business in many ways.

A new tunnel and system was developed, and he was able to employ more staff and expand his business dramatically.

Many of his consumers are locals, and he is always approached with new orders and projects. Despite growing taking on more employees as the business grew, Ashley continues to do much of the work on his own. He works every day of the week, and only rests for a bit of time on a Sunday.

It is clear that Ashley absolutely loves what he does, and his success has been a result of the passion and heart that he puts in every hour of every day.



Abalobi was co-founded by Serge Raemakers, Abongile Ngqongwa and Nicolaas Waldeck in 2015, with the aim to improve fisheries management, the lives of small-scale fishers and to create a social enterprise agency for them.

Abalobi is a mobile app suite and non-profit programme which is aimed at social justice and poverty alleviation in the small-scale fisheries chain. We took some time to chat to one of the founders, Serge Raemaekers to gain more insight.

The Abalobi app is currently used by 271 small-scale fishers along the South African coast and will soon be introduced to small- scale fishers in the Seychelles. When Abalobi was introduced, the majority of the users were very nervous about depending on an app to manage or possible income as this was something completely new to them. However, Abalobi had the answer to this.

“Through a co-design process and on-going training, the fishers have become accustomed to the app and have become more independent, operating this app with enthusiasm and confidence,” says Serge.

Abalobi is first and foremost a personal log book for fishers, allowing them to document their daily activities and highlighting areas where they can improve or better manage their finances. They are able to record their catch, income and expenses as well consulting their log book to evaluate their economic problems or potential. Through use of the Abalobi MARKETPLACE app, they also build traceable value chains,  connecting them with end- markets directly, consumers, retailers and restaurants directly, in a more economically empowered way.

Abalobi was founded 3,5 years ago, and the NP) is planning to grow to another scale over the next three years.

“Imagine a scenario where you go to a seafood restaurant and order a seafood meal. You are now able to scan a QR code that will give you the opportunity to see where your food is coming from, who caught the fish and will tell you a story about your food. This connects the consumer to the fishers and vice versa,” says Serge.

He goes on to explain that the biggest accomplishment since Abalobi was founded is seeing the sense of pride and independence that all fishers have gained.

“This is something extraordinary to watch, the fishers are completely in charge of their careers and their income. They are able to provide for themselves and families and step by step improve their living conditions”, says Serge.

Even though Abalobi has developed, growing its userbase over the years, the road to where they are now wasn’t an easy one. The biggest challenge for them when they started was acquiring financial assistance. Serge shares that everyone wants a piece of what is essentially a community-driven programme. They believed in their vision and kept writing proposals.

Last year was one of the greatest years for Abalobi as they won the development award at the SAB Foundation Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards. After winning they noticed that their organization was perceived as being more credible, and people started recognising them. They subsequently obtained more grant funding from elsewhere to scale their operations and impact.

Through this funding they were also able to buy a bakkie which is allowing them to travel more and access more fishing communities. They have also been able to invest in more branding and marketing and this has contributed to them being more visible and recognised in the fishing sector.

Serge encourages everyone who has a dream of starting their own business to go for it, but cautions them not to expect everything to go as planned. His top tips for any startups are:

  • Perseverance, don’t give up regardless challenges.

  • Find a narrative, have a story to tell.

  • Appeal to the larger audience.

  • Be genuine, stand out from others.

  • Attend many social entrepreneur workshops and events.

  • Don’t take rejection personally, rather see it as a learning curve.

  • Keep pushing until something comes up.



Lindokuhle Duma is the founder of a Durban-based company, Iziko Stoves. Iziko Stoves are innovative cooking and braai stoves that utilize wood, coal or any biomass materials as a cooking fuel. Lindokuhle started his business straight after finishing his B.Com Accounting Degree when he identified a substance abuse problem in his community.

Iziko Stoves was founded with the main purpose of assisting substance abusers to re-integrate into society after completing a rehabilitation programme. At Iziko Stoves, ex- abusers are guided through the process of making stoves, how to be job ready after completing their course and how they can even start their own business down the road.

After a month of training, they receive potjie stoves and braai stands, an order form/shirt and have to sell these products in their communities in order to assist them in receiving income.

In the two years that Iziko Stoves has been in business, they have assisted 211 substance users and 179 have managed to completely change their lives.

Lindokuhle’s journey to establishing his business was not an easy one; along the way he had to make sacrifices and go through a year without any source of income. Lindokuhle explains that he ran out of petrol more than 14 times, got stuck on freeways and also had endless dilemmas with his landlord. However, through it all he pushed on and stayed motivated because he knew his business would be a success. Through perseverance, determination and hard work he was able to move past all these obstacles and now runs a business he is proud of.

A mere two years after establishing his business, Lindokuhle has grown as an individual and also as an entrepreneur and now looks back on his journey with a smile. In 2017, he was chosen to be part of the SABC programme “Brand South Africa Play Your Part” and last October, Iziko Stoves won R150 000 funding and R140 000 in business mentoring and support at the SAB Foundation Social Innovation Awards. Through this funding, Lindokuhle has been able to develop and grow his business enormously. He has improved the quality of products, invested in better equipment and machinery and employed more staff members. This March, he has been selected represent South Africa and travel to Israel to share ideas with social entrepreneurs in that country.

Lindokuhle encourages anyone who dreams of starting their own business to follow their heart, but believes that they must have a strong desire to succeed and not give up easily. His words of advice to people who want to start their own businesses are:

  • Define your values and protect your identity. Your identity carries your values, it carries your reputation and tells your story, that is your biggest asset.

  • Do a lot of planning, it will help you cut down on risks and will help you map out the direction you want to take.

  • Find a team, because you cannot do everything on your own.

His five top tips for start-up and established entrepreneurs to keep a business running are:

  • Cash flow: ensure there is cash coming in regularly, lack of cash suffocates growth.

  • Consistently communicate the vision and culture of the company to your team.

  • Invest in branding and marketing

  • Develop people, you can’t do everything on your own.

  • Always have a plan.

“There is a beautiful parallel between the stoves and the substance abusers; society views the substance abusers as junkies and many refer to them as trash, much like the geysers and gas cylinders from scrapyards we recycle to create our beautiful products. There is a parallel between the substance abuser and leaking geyser that have both been ‘written off’ by society, but we invest in both to create value and a new image” – Lindokuhle Duma, Iziko Stoves.



Lakheni is a buying platform that amplifies the power of communities through collective buying. Groups and communities – whether neighbours, members of a stokvol or a church congregation – can group together as a buying group, allowing them to buy directly from suppliers, saving money.Nokwhethu Khojane and Lauren Drake are the dynamic and passionate duo behind Lakheni, having met whilst studying together at UCT. Coming from different backgrounds, they came together with the love and passion for education and community service. 

Lakheni encourages communities to form buying groups, which allows them to access to cheaper goods, as goods can be sourced directly from suppliers in bulk. Groups can then order through Lakheni, who will also deliver the goods.

Lakheni addresses the need for a company to deliver monthly groceries into the township, with a focus on crèches. Many people struggle with space and capacity to transport the goods once bought, especially the majority who are making use of public transport such as buses and taxis.

Since their involvement with the SAB Foundation, Lakheni has now grown the staff complement to a workforce of four, bringing on a well-experienced driver, as well as a Sales and Marketing Manager.

The funding also allowed Lakheni to build a website, develop an app which potential and current consumers use to order the service, as well as purchase a Lakheni bakkie which is used for transporting the groceries. 

The result is that the business has grown a tremendous amount, allowing it to serve even more people, and its reputation continues to grow through word-of-mouth recommendation.

Nokwhethu talks about how the business’ success continues to make her proud: “I love to see the “Wow” expressions on our customers’ consumers faces when the groceries arrive to feed their families. It is a huge compliment knowing that our customers endorse us, and the strength of the relationship we hold with members of the community formed as a result of Lakheni’s existence.”

Read more about Lakheni here: http://www.fin24.com/Entrepreneurs/Opinions-and-Analysis/sas-social-enterprises-falling-through-the-cracks-20170213



Yvonne Mamokiba Makuwa is the founder of engineering company, TKY Trading and a participant in the SAB Foundation’s 2017 Tholoana.

TKY Trading is an engineering business based in Limpopo; specialising in the supply and repair of mining and engineering components such as armature winding, pumps, motors, ventilation fans and valves to various companies around Limpopo and Johannesburg.

Yvonne Mamokiba Makuwa is the founder of engineering company, TKY Trading and participant in the SAB Foundation’s 2017 Tholoana Enterprise Programme Yvonne is an ambitious entrepreneur who is always seeking ways of improving herself and growing her business. She shares with us the journey of how she started her business and what she had to overcome to make it the company it is today.

Yvonne Mamokiba Makuwa is the founder of engineering company, TKY Trading and participant in the SAB Foundation’s 2017 Tholoana Enterprise Programme Yvonne is an ambitious entrepreneur who is always seeking ways of improving herself and growing her business. She shares with us the journey of how she started her business and what she had to overcome to make it the company it is today.

TKY Trading is an engineering business based in Limpopo; specialising in the supply and repair of mining and engineering components such as armature winding, pumps, motors, ventilation fans and valves to various companies around Limpopo and Johannesburg.

When TKY Trading was established five years ago, Yvonne understood that she was entering a very male dominated industry. However, she knew that there was a high demand for mining components around her area and established this business with a female touch. Yvonne explains that getting funding to start TKY Trading was not easy as she faced a lot of rejection from companies. When she finally received small jobs from clients, she ensured she capitalised on them and made the most of the opportunity.

Being just one of only three black women in her local mining industry, Yvonne still needs to overcome a number of perceptions that people have. “Playing the black woman card does not work in the mining and engineering field, our services are production related so you need to deliver, we had to man up”. she further explains that she is still fighting for her spot in the industry because many companies perceive small, local black owned companies as incapable of producing good work.

Although Yvonne, has faced many challenges in her career, she is not someone that gives up easily and with every challenge she faces, she sees an opportunity to better herself. After just five years in business, Yvonne has a number of things she can be proud of, two years ago, she received her full SABS ISO9001 Accreditation; she has employed ten permanent staff; forged a strong strategic alliance with key suppliers and has established good standing with more than five clients.

Her five tips for startup entrepreneurs are:

  1. Save for the future, business is seasonal.

  2. Staff members are important, train them and keep them motivated.

  3. Always have integrity.

  4. Always communicate with various stakeholders including staff.

  5. Balance your life; your business needs a healthy you.

With the funding, she received from the SAB Foundation Tholoana Enterprise Programme she has bought a truck for TKY Trading and she plans to start a school workshop for people around her community. She will train people and improve their skills, enabling them to work in the mining industry. These workshops will target specifically people in Limpopo.

Yvonne’s advice to anyone who wants to start their own business is that, “The key to starting your own business is never to give up. You need to stay focused on your goal. What works for someone else might not work for you and if what you do does not work explore something else. Be you, do you!”


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The Laundry Room is a laundry service business, founded by Molebogeng Motebele, based in Kwena Moloto, Polokwane.

Before going through the SAB Foundation’s Tholoana Enterprise Programme, Molebogeng’s monthly income was tight, and she also had limited business skills and has a shortage of equipment.

The grant from the SAB Foundation allowed her to purchase new equipment, including a new security system, a steam iron, industrial washer extractor and a tumble dryer. She was also able to service existing washers and dryers. 

The mentorship she received also allowed her to become fully compliant, and implement a financial management system. 

Since being part of the programme, she has also seen a 488% increase in turnover, and taken on new clients, including Tiger Brands and the Musina Hotel.



Fashion Force Wear Branding was founded by Thabiso Makhubo in 2014. The company is located in Springs and specialises in T-shirt printing, embroidery and design.

Growing up, Thabiso Makhubo always had a passion for fashion and loved designing, however, he never got the opportunity to study fashion after completing school. The opportunity to enter this market came on the back of a professional setback; Thabiso worked at a corporate insurance company and unfortunately his contract was not renewed after it ended a year later.

After losing his job, Thabiso decided to follow his passion for fashion and start his own branding company regardless of his circumstances – he uses a wheelchair to get around as his legs are paralysed.

Thabiso identified a gap in his community for T-shirt design and printing as locals were tired of travelling to the CBD to access these services. He then decided to educate himself about the branding industry and gained his knowledge through watching online videos and tutorials. He started Fashion Force Wear with just R1 200 and used most of his capital to pay his external supplier for printing his T-shirts as he didn’t have his own equipment then.

In 2016, Thabiso applied for the SAB Foundation Tholoana Enterprise Programme and was delighted when he was accepted as one of the participants. He explains that after joining the programme his business has grown from strength to strength. He has been able to expand his business to more than just T-shirt printing and has now incorporated elements of cup designing and printing.

“If it was not for the SAB Foundation Tholoana Enterprise Programme, I would not have acquired the skills I have. Through the programme, I learnt how to grow the business, how to price my products and handle staff members and I also learnt how to approach and negotiate with clients,” says Thabiso

With the funding, he received from the SAB Foundation, Thabiso bought printing and designing equipment for his business, before he had to use an external supplier to print his T-shirts after he had designed them. Using his own machines, Thabiso is able to accept more orders from his clients and print out more t-shirts which generates more income. On average Thabiso designs and prints 30 T-shirts and 10 cups a day as opposed to 10 T-shirts when he used an external supplier. This has enabled his income to grow from R3 000 per month to R10 000 per month.

With just three years in business, Fashion Force Wear Branding has grown tremendously, there are currently five full time employees whom one of which is also disabled. “When this business started, it took me two years to employ my first employee and after joining the Tholoana Enterprise Programme in 2016, I was able to employ four more employees to work with me since we were receiving more orders”- says Thabiso.

Thabiso is glad that he started this business as he says it has challenged him to become a better person and entrepreneur. He encourages everyone who wants to start their business to definitely follow their passion. His only advice to entrepreneurs is. “Be patient in the journey and remain consistent as that will help anyone go far in life”.

My biggest dream as an entrepreneur is to start my own skills development centre and to help empower and develop those who are living with disabilities”, concludes Thabiso.



Thabiso Mncwabe, a 26-year-old Greytown resident who runs a successful small business making toilet tissue, is intensely grateful to his grandmother who raised him. His story is a testament to the powerful creativity that emerges when hard work, initiative and creativity are supported by business skills and mentorship.

Thabiso is actively participating in the Tholoana Enterprise Programme, where he is a star performer. A deep urge to make a better life for himself drives him. Unafraid of long hours and heavy lifting, Thabiso is proud of the hard work and effort that is already bringing significant rewards to his business, Twin Twice Tissues.

Bridgit Evans, Director of the SAB Foundation who sponsor the programme noted that 50 participants were selected to join the programme from more than 2000 businesses that applied country wide. “Thabiso was an obvious candidate. His company was already a well managed operation, busy with production. His orders exceeded his production capacity and he was trying to keep up with the sales. As it so happens, he was also the only one of nine rural KZN youth entrepreneurs who had actually succeeded in turning a manufacturing opportunity sponsored by the Province, into a thriving business.”

Based in Makhabeleni, Twin Twice operates mostly on a cash basis, with deliveries being paid for upfront. This tight cash flow management, his innovative delivery schemes, and aggressive marketing have enabled him to penetrate the SPAR outlets in his area and surrounding towns, and things continue to improve. Thabiso recently started supplying one of KZN’s five Mega SPARs. If this trial period goes well, he hopes to secure contracts with the other four. He also supplies 20 standard SPARs and 18 Cash&Carry stores, and employs eight permanent staff members with nine casuals. In addition, he supplies B&Bs, local stores, and Wimpy restaurants.

The company grew out of the need for affordable toilet tissue where the provincial government’s sanitation works were rolling out new toilets. Despite limited storage space at his premises and only one machine, the business maintained a steady production flow, selling almost all his stock before even being manufactured. With more space for construction and storage, his business will expand even further.

Thabiso put the necessary control systems in place, engaging enthusiastically with his mentor thus qualifying for grant funding which enabled him to replace his vehicle which had crashed in the mist.

Thabiso continues to develop valuable skills that improve his leadership and grow his business. His potential is being widely recognised. The Umyezane Award for KwaZulu-Natal’s Best Youth Managed Business was a highlight of his career. The prize will help him acquire additional operational space.

Reflecting on the award, he said, “the name ‘Umyezane’ was taken from King Shaka on crowning a warrior who finished the fight, never running away,” said Thabiso, who later had the pleasure of shaking President Ramaphosa’s hand.

Thabiso has taken to mentoring 10 young business owners, sharing his natural flair for entrepreneurship and his recently learned insights. “As a high school student, I walked 25km every day to attend school. My passion now is to inspire other SMMEs to keep trying, no matter how far they have to go to ‘finish the fight’ and to reach their own goals,” he said.

Thabiso’s vibrant energy, dedication to his business, and community involvement show that this youth entrepreneur is on solid ground. Selectors for the Tholoana Programme will be thrilled to find more participants like him, when applications open in October.


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Michael Stevens is the business partner of Johan Snyders. As the face of Marketing and Sales, Michael is passionate about the cause and hopes to make a difference in every facet of the business. He has been making use of prosthetics for twenty years – this after being in a traumatic car accident at the age of 12. He and Johan met while he was training for the London Paralympics in 2012. The friendship grew, and the need for prosthetic limbs for children was apparent more than ever. Together they formed Jumping Kids; highlighting the importance of mobility in children with disability, as well as the need for surrounding education.

Michael has a background in Marketing and PR, but is constantly refining his skills. A course in Social Entrepreneurship at GIBS led him to the SAB Foundation. They hope that they will obtain the funding in order to grow the business and be able to provide more prosthetics. He says that there are many, many customers – it is just a matter of getting funding in order to deliver the required services. Currently the business has no guarantee of income and staff members help out on a volunteer basis. Income is monitored on a year-to-year basis, and the majority of the pre and post-amputation clients are drawn to Jumping Kids through word-of-mouth. 

Nthando, who is 14 years old is a proof of their concept. He has just obtained a silver medal at the recent Paralympics. Nthando is a big part of the Jumping Kids business and can be seen as the face of their ideas in restoring dignity, providing inclusion and focusing on active living despite disability.