58 entrepreneurs from the SAB Tholoana Enterprise Programme created 237 new jobs and sustained 435 jobs during the pandemic and post-pandemic period

Small businesses are playing a vital role in creating jobs despite their challenges. The past two years have been difficult for entrepreneurs. because they had to overcome challenges caused by the global Covid-19 pandemic, looting and flooding in various parts of the country, loadshedding and tough economic times.

Despite these challenges, entrepreneurs that received business growth support from the SAB Tholoana Enterprise Programme created jobs, and their businesses experienced a phenomenal 73% increase in turnover which equates to an overall increase of R11 040 420 million.

Together, 58 entrepreneurs created 237 new jobs and sustained 435 jobs during the pandemic and post-pandemic period.  A working person in South Africa1supports themselves and, on average, three additional people. Based on this statistic, these entrepreneurs indirectly supported 2016 people through the jobs they created and sustained.

To celebrate their contribution to society, a glamorous graduation ceremony was held at the Capital on the Park in Sandton in February 2023.

Black female-owned rural small businesses won awards

Impoverished communities are often left out of business development interventions. However, both rural and township communities must be given equal opportunities to improve their often-dire circumstances.

This was the aim of the 2023 Entrepreneurial Awards during the SAB Tholoana Enterprise Programme. The entrepreneurial and Tholoana awards was won by a black female-owned business who had experienced a 940% growth turnover during the programme. The food and beverage business, Kitchen 360, owned by Hlalefang Mzingwane was negatively impacted by the pandemic and was forced to find innovative ways to keep the business running in the Free State province.

“Lockdown restrictions hit my business hard, even though I still sold and delivered cakes, I was struggling to make a profit,” said Mzingwane.

With the help of her business mentor and support from the SAB Tholoana Enterprise Programme, she took a brave step to embark on a new business venture. Mzingwane noticed that many trucks passed by her area, and that there was a business opportunity.

“I decided to start selling home-cooked meals to truck drivers from a local station. By doing this, I created jobs, and my revenue grew to over R80 000 a month,” she said.

The programme’s business growth interventions contributed towards her Mzingwane’s phenomenal growth and provided her with funding to buy equipment for her staff to work efficiently and effectively.

“When I started on the programme, I had no hope, and didn’t believe my business could be this successful,” said Mzingwane.

The programme has a specific focus on working with businesses that are black and female-owned, and businesses based in the township and rural areas. 47% of businesses on the programme were from peri-urban and townships areas and 31% were from rural areas. 53% of women owned business were supported and 62% of the businesses were youth led business.

Another black female owned rural business that won a prestigious award was, Itumeleng Motswalo the owner of Gardiner Polokwane. She walked away with the Spotlight Award because her business initially had 10 workers but managed to create 76 jobs in the past 18 months.

“We are in the catering industry. We do events management and therefore, my business requires a lot of manpower. I also have a restaurant and bakery,” said Motswalo.

The labour-intensive business hires mostly local youth and women. She believes in having an extensive workforce because she does not want to overwork her staff, especially during peak seasons.

“My community is very supportive; I work closely with them, and their overall wellness is important to me,” Motswalo emphasised.

Supporting small businesses is a win for all of us

Many of the businesses from the SAB Tholoana Programme had humble beginnings and were struggling, however, they managed to grow their business during tough times. The programme provided them with extensive entrepreneurial skills development training, mentorship, access to markets, finance and practical business tools and templates.

Starting and running a business is not for the faint hearted and resilient entrepreneurs cried tears of joy during their graduation because they were in awe of how far they have come. The graduation was also filled with heartfelt memories as the SAB Foundation reflected on the tough times that the graduating entrepreneurs overcame.

“We were very concerned about entrepreneurs entering the programme because COVID 19 threatened the viability of so many small businesses. Despite all the odds stacked against them, they increased their turnover and created jobs. We are proud of them,” said Bridgit Evans, the SABF Executive Director.

Helping small businesses grow is a collaborative effort and the success and growth of these graduates proves that when small businesses are supported, they can change lives, create jobs, and positively contribute towards economic growth. Their success is a win for all of us of us.

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