The 2015 winners of the SAB KickStart youth entrepreneurship development programme were announced last week. Five youth-owned businesses were selected to receive a share of R1.5-million in business grants. This is part of our commitment to making a genuine contribution towards the national vision described in the National Development Plan, which requires the creation of one million jobs by 2030 through the involvement of big business and the power of entrepreneurship.
We took some precious time out of the winners’ busy work day to find out what winning means to them, to discuss the challenges of being an entrepreneur and reflect on lessons learned in an intensive year of business development support.
A chance for growth
The overall winner of SAB Kickstart 2015, Clement Pilusa, owner of Pilusa and Mabotja Farming in Tshwane, receives a first place grant fund of R500 000. “We are ecstatic to have received first place. Because of this grant, the things we have been longing to do will be possible now, ” says Clement, “We have been wishing for more money to invest in delivery crates, and to increase our stock. We can do this now.” Clement established Pilusa and Mabotja Farming and Projects in 2012, starting out with just vegetables and expanding later into broiler chicken production.
Operating within the Agricultural sector, Clement explains that SAB KickStart has helped him to differentiate his business from competitors and provided him with the opportunity to overcome his biggest business challenge yet. "We are now in a position that we can have better contracts with clients buying from us. Because we’d previously only produced small quantities of chickens, we could not sign contracts with suppliers on a weekly basis, as we were only producing chickens every three months. This KickStart grant allows us to buy more livestock, so that we can produce weekly and have better contracts with our clients."
Sound business advice
Ranjan Sewgambar, a private practice audiologist from Durban took second place and a grant of R400 000. Established in 2009, his healthcare practice provides diagnostic audiology and hearing aid services – for paediatric and elderly patients alike – and convenient bedside assessments. “Receiving this grant means I am able to grow my business further, ” says Ranjan, “I am able to use this seed capital for improving infrastructure and processes throughout the business. Through the KickStart programme I have learned the importance of a strong marketing plan and I have been taught how to focus on my market, know who my customers are, and how to understand them well, ” he explains. The model of business development support received through KickStart is designed to ensure that the start-up businesses thrive rather than merely survive. Ranjan notes that the biggest challenge he has been able to overcome during his time in the programme was “reducing time for receiving money. By improving processes within my business, I significantly improved my cash flow.”
Contributing to a Cleaner tomorrow
Third place winner, Caroline Kgomo of Meqheleng Waste Management in the Free State receives a business grant of R300 000. Her business was started in 2012 and specialises in waste collection and recycling, with a buy-back centre for waste material like glass, plastic, paper and cardboard. The business also develops integrated waste management solutions for companies, government departments and local municipalities. Caroline remarks that there is room for improvement in the recycling industry, as a practice that is not widespread, and it is here that she intends to make her contribution.