Tholoana Enterprise Programme

BONTLE TSHOLE - BAAA SMOOTHIE

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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

RUSHANA HARTNICK - LITTLE MERMAIDS SWIM SCHOOL

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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 EQUIPMENT AND TOOLS HIRE

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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.

ASHLEY MENTOOR - FLOWERS DIRECT

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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.

YVONNE MAMOKIBA MAKUWA - TKY TRADING

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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!”

MOLEBOGENG MOTEBELE - THE LAUNDRY ROOM

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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.

THABISO MAKHUBO - FASHION FORCE WEAR BRANDING

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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 - TWIN TWICE TISSUES

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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.

TSAKELANI MAHLAULE - THE CAKE CENTRAL

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Established in 2016, The Cake Central is a cake and confectionary retail shop that sells baked goods and ingredients, such as fondant and icing sugar, as well as equipment and utensils. The company’s core market includes hobby bakers, professional confectioners and small businesses, such as caterers.

Owner of the Cake Central, Tsakelani Mahlaule was born and raised in rural Limpopo developing her entrepreneur skills by selling fresh produce from her grandmother’s garden.

Tsakelani moved to Johannesburg to start her first job where a co-worker introduced her to baking, an activity that she quickly fell in love with. In 2014, she baked her first birthday cake for a friend and started baking treats for family and friends. She realised that there was an opportunity to turn her passion into a business and founded The Cake Central.

Even though she loved what she was doing, Tsakelani faced a number of challenges as her business grew. “Whenever I had a few cake orders to fill for people in Limpopo I would have to travel three hours to the closest store in Louis Trichardt, just to find baking ingredients,” she explains.

Seeing the gap in the market, Tsakelani opened her first store in Thohoyandou Shopping Mall, close to her home village of Elim. From there her enterprise continued to grow and after a discovering a similar need in Soweto, she was able to open a second outlet in Baragwanath Square Mall, that also bakes fresh goods on-site for bulk orders.

Tsakelani embarked on her entrepreneurial journey with little to no experience in running a business. In 2017 she was selected out of more than 2 000 applicants to participate in the SAB Foundation Tholoana Enterprise Programme. The programme specifically supports enthusiastic, passionate entrepreneurs who are committed to building successful businesses. Tsakelani believes that taking part in the programme was a huge blessing for her fledgling business.

“My business would not have survived without this programme,” says Tsakelani. “They took us through everything from marketing to how to prepare a balance sheet and other practical skills.”

Her Tholoana Enterprise Programme mentor, Simon Ramonyai, agrees that the programme helped her tremendously.

“Tsakelani’s business acumen and overall business management skills have improved significantly since she started the programme. She now makes informed business decisions based on clear plans and strategies to elevate her operation. She is highly focused and has worked very hard to become sustainable and profitable, and her sheer passion and willingness to learn have led to tangible improvements in her business,” says Ramonyai.

With the experience and knowledge gained from the programme, Mahlaule was able to increase her staff numbers by 33% and improve her financial management system. She is currently learning how to efficiently schedule deliveries, maintain stock levels and manage costs.

One of the challenges Tsakelani faces is finding innovative ways to ensure that both stores trade profitably. To ensure the success of the Limpopo store, Tsakelani has introduced a bakery and is exploring plans to offer baking and cake-decorating classes once she moves into bigger premises.

 For more information about The Cake Central, contact Tsekelani Mahlaule at thecakecentral@gmail.com or call her on 0734261066

BONGINKOSI SHONGWE - SHONGWE MOTOR SPARES AND TYRES

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After graduating from the University of Johannesburg, Bonginkosi decided to open a motor spares shop, on a recommendation from his father and, in 2013, Shongwe Motor Spares and Tyres was born.

Bonginkosi opened his first business, specialising in motor spares, in his home village of Schoemansdal. With a grand vision for his business, Bonginkosi soon expanded into tyre services and opened a second branch in Jeppes Reef. His future plans include further expansion, and in March 2019 he will be opening another store in Boschfontein. He also hopes to expand his business outside Mpumalanga and dreams of his business being recognised on a much bigger scale.

“I want to make it a well-known brand not only in my village or Mpumalanga but across South Africa. I want to compete with established brands like Midas and Tiger Wheel and Tyre, and expand as far as I can. I want my brand to be known even when I’m no longer alive, I want to leave a legacy,” he explains.

Bonginkosi believes that his father was his biggest motivator when it came to growing his business. As well as providing him with a micro-loan, which he used to buy machinery, his father taught him how to manage the business, save his profits and work hard to secure a successful enterprise.

Bonginkosi believes that a turning point for the expansion of his business came when he was accepted into the SAB Foundation Tholoana Enterprise Programme and awarded R200 000 in grant funding for his business. “The grant funding helped me buy a better wheel alignment equipment, a wheel balancer, tyre changer and battery testers and chargers in order to sell and recharge batteries,” he explains.

According to Bonginkosi, the Tholoana Programme assisted me with funding; the programme also taught him how to run a successful business by providing instruction on key topics such as costing and pricing, marketing, public relations, human resources and financial management. The programme also provided him with a business mentor, Ntando Maseko, who was on-hand to provide advice and answer any questions.

“The business workshops are breath-taking,” said Bonginkosi. “I learned that there was a lot more I needed to do in order to manage my business and staff efficiently and effectively. I now have systems in place and I understand the labour laws”.

Since starting the SAB Foundation Tholoana Enterprise Programme, Bonginkosi’s turnover has increased by 145% and his workforce has grown by 40%. The programme was also instrumental in him being able to open his second branch in Jeppes Reef on the border of South Africa and Swaziland. “We are the first motor spares shop people see when they come through the area, so now instead of travelling to Malelane, they come to us,” concludes Bonginkosi.

For more information about Shongwe Motor Spares and Tyres, contact Bonginkosi Shongwe on his email address, bshongwe111@gmail.com or call him on 082 092 9262.

UGAN PILLAY - VALLEY MUSHROOMS

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The Valley Mushrooms premises overlooks the best of KZN, and is a calming, tranquil space. It was founded by Ugan Pillay, who has always loved the taste of mushrooms, and saw a need in the market for the exotic kind. 

He began his research on how to produce the best oyster mushrooms and visited the likes of Thailand to realise the best techniques. Before starting the business in 2013, he was a Project Manager in the I.T sector living in Johannesburg. Much has changed since then, and he says with conviction that it would not have been possible without the funding and mentorship from the SAB Foundation. He formed this relationship in 2015 after a work colleague forwarded him an email with the entry details.

He is in awe of the recognition and has used the money to grow the business. The funds enabled the purchase of racking for the bags, and has allowed for an increase in volume produced. Ugan was able to employ more staff and use his idea to uplift the community – a component he feels most strongly about.

Customers find the business easily, and he is currently suppling to many private clients as well as Spar, Checkers, Oxford Fresh Market and other fresh market mushroom broker within a 20 km radius of the farm.

In terms of challenges, obtaining quality spawn and keeping up with orders are on top of the list. In future, he would like to develop a great marketing plan and become the “Denny of exotic mushrooms”. The biggest success, he says, is having got the business to where it is today. He can’t wait to see what the future holds.

PHYTO - DR. YASHEEN SINGH

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Dr. Yasheen Singh is the founder of PhytoPro, a local producer of plant-based nutritional products made from premium, pea protein isolate. Dr Singh, believes that his medical background played an important role in his decision to start manufacturing PhytoPro. During consultations with his patients, he would often recommend plant-based products because of their healing anti-inflammatory properties. Dr Singh believes that food is medicine and people should always opt for healthier alternatives that benefit the body.

After researching the market and engaging with his patients interested in plant-based diets, Dr Singh discovered there was a shortage of high-quality, affordable products in South Africa and launched PhytoPro in 2014.

The business started with products being manufactured exclusively for Dr Singh’s patients and after seeing results with his patients, the products were launched to the broader market to meet increasing demand. “The rest is history,” Dr Singh says.

Looking back on his journey, Dr Singh is happy with how his business has progressed, and the impact his products have had on his patients and customers. He is proud to see how far his business has grown over the past four years and describes his journey unforgettable. As a recent graduate of the SAB Foundation Tholoana Enterprise Programme, he acknowledges that the SAB Foundation played a significant role in shaping PhytoPro.

“I decided to give it a try in 2017 and my application was successful. I was so excited to have joined the programme because I felt it will be a great fit for my business, and I knew I would benefit enormously throughout the duration of the programme,” Singh explains.

Dr Singh describes his journey with the SAB Foundation as a one of a kind experiences for which he will always be grateful.

“The programme did not only focus on funding, but also included tailored mentorship which was invaluable for the business as it gave us a chance to learn about operations and how to ensure that your business remains sustainable throughout the years,” says Dr Singh.

Dr Singh says that, through attending the workshops, his confidence was boosted tremendously, helping him implement strategies which laid a concrete foundation to develop his business even further.

The workshops also made Dr Singh realise the business needed additional support and hired two part-time employees to work on relationship management and promotions. As well as hiring additional staff, Dr Singh used the grant funding to secure new warehouse space and further enhance his operations.

Dr Singh advises all aspirational entrepreneurs who are eager to start their own business not to waste any time with getting started. However, he also recommends patience because being a business owner is not always smooth sailing.

“Accept that you will make mistakes along your journey and you will go through a few stumbling blocks before you reap the rewards of your hard work. Do not expect to be the perfect entrepreneur from the word go. Laugh and learn from your mistakes and eventually your hard work will pay off,” he advises.

Dr Singh concluded by giving the following tips for entrepreneurial success:

  • Start from a place of passion. When the going gets tough, it is the passion in your heart that will get you through to the other side.

  • Educate yourself, both on the product or industry you are working in and the art of doing business.

  • Actively relax. A relaxed mind is more receptive to new ideas and can adapt to change and new ways of working.

  • Open up to receiving support. This can either be from friends, family, employees, mentors or fellow entrepreneurs.

Find Dr Singh and Phyto Pro products at https://phytopro.co.za

MOLEBOGENG MOTEBELE - THE LAUNDRY ROOM

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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.

KGANTSHI NGOATO - KGANTSHI PRINTING SOLUTIONS

Kgantshi Printing Solutions

Kgantshi is based in Polokwane, Limpopo and runs a printing and graphic design business. When she joined the SAB Foundation programme in July 2015 her turnover was low. Her challenge was limited production capacity due to lack of equipment – she had to outsource a big portion of orders. She also struggled with poor understanding of financial management.

After taking part in the Tholoana Enterprise Programme, Kgantshi’s business has grown from strength to strength. The funding allowed her to purchase a large scale printing machine, which has contributed to her monthly income increase by 2 088%.

Other successful outcomes from the programme include the implementation of new financial management systems, allowing her improved financial control a full rework of costing and pricing, resulting in increased profitability; and a wider client base and service offering.