The Eastern Cape was well represented at a prestigious celebration in Johannesburg last week where seven small business owners who are creating employment received awards from the SAB Foundation. Hair and beauty artist, Afika Mbandazwayo, and Bukelwa Ngoqo, who owns Sunkissed Fashion at the East London airport were recognised for their outstanding participation and entrepreneurial excellence while on the Tholoana Enterprise Programme.
“Afika and Bukelwa were both youth entrepreneurs when they commenced the programme, so it is apt to celebrate their accomplishments in Youth Month,” said Bridgit Evans, Director of the Foundation at the annual awards ceremony. We recognise and praise their tenacious entrepreneurship, their vibrant creativity, and their passionate determination to contribute meaningfully to the Eastern Cape economy.”
Evans was excited to give the Social Media and Marketing Award to Afika Mbandazayo, owner of Afika M. She said, “Afika took on the challenge of promoting her hair and beauty spa with determination, initiative and persistence. She welcomed every suggestion to improve her communication strategy and used social media to dramatically increased her client base, which now includes a number of high flying dignitaries and celebrities.”
Afika spoke about the programme in glowing terms: “When I started my entrepreneurial journey, a lot of systems were not in place. I didn’t know how to deal with my finances, HR issues, marketing, or how to handle problems with customers. When I started growing I lacked knowledge. On the Tholoana the workshops, I realised this was no longer a hobby, but a business. Now I know how to deal with all the aspects of business. The change in my turnover was humungous! My business is a well-known brand as well as it being a separate entity from myself! I stick to my goals and planning instead of making things up in the short-term. My long term goal is a 100-year business plan. I am so motivated to reach my dreams and I’m energised to do development work for those who can’t afford to go to tertiary education. My eyes were opened from being on this programme.”
The Superstar Award went to Bukelwa Ngoqo of SunKissed Fashion in East London for the way she made optimal use of every element offered by the programme. “The result was that she took her business to the next level, with the bold move of opening her second shop in OR Tambo airport,” said Evans.
Bukelwa’s mentor was Anton Ressel. He mentioned her consistent progress right from the start. “She showed a willingness to try new things and took the advice to heart. This showed in the business’ dramatic turnaround. Sunkissed Fashion went from facing eviction to opening a second shop in the OR Tambo airport in Johannesburg,” he said. “I am very proud to have been a small part of her journey towards entrepreneurial success.”
Afika and Bukelwa were part of a cohort of 37 graduates who commenced the 20-month training in July 2016. Fetola CEO, Catherine Wijnberg, who implements the programme on behalf of SAB Foundation, reflected on the potential to effect positive growth with committed engagement from corporate South Africa: “The possibility of building a better economic landscape ensures that small businesses like Sunkissed and Afika M Hair Beauty can take their seat at the table and participate fully in nation building.”
Evans reflected on the significant impact being made individually and collectively to the economy and to the national wellbeing. She said, “The forecast is that by 2030, as much as 90% of new jobs in our economy will be created by small, medium and micro enterprises. In reality, while fewer than 30% of all SMMEs survive beyond three years it is profoundly heartening to see these thriving small business owners contributing so effectively to creating employment in under-resourced areas of the country.”
At the end of the evening, Bukelwa said, “Who would have thought that being part of the Tholoana programme would be a defining moment… a turning point that gave me an advantage and set me apart for guaranteed victory? I hope that other youth entrepreneurs in the Eastern Cape get the opportunity to benefit from this programme too.”
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