Women-led SMME’s take the lead

SOME 99% of the Kouga-based entrepreneurs, who recently celebrated the completion of their business skills course, are women.

This is the first comprehensive business-skills training programme run by Isibabalo Business Services, an NPO based in Jeffreys Bay.

“We are so proud of all our graduates, but especially of the fact that over 90% of these enterprises are 100% black-women-owned,” said Isibabalo’s Managing Director, Andiswa Lubengu-Bailey.

While the majority of the entrepreneurs first approached Isibabalo with mere business concepts, having successfully completed the ‘Accelerate your Business’ training, they now have registered businesses and plans in place to see their businesses grow; as well as the understanding of how to manage their finances, and new found confidence.

One such graduate, Refiloe Hlahane, owner of Refilourish Properties, said, “The training helped me to understand the depth of being an entrepreneur and how to identify and analyse my market and competitors. I have grown and matured as a business woman and have become aware of what to expect and how to manage risks, even outside of business. I’m fully confident and positive to take on any challenge.”

In addition to learning essential skills, such as business compliance, cash flow management, risk management and financial education, the business training environment became a vehicle to assist the participants to appreciate and mentor each other. “We found this female-dominated group of entrepreneurs pulling together to inspire, share business opportunities and pass on referrals,” said Lubengu-Bailey.

Forged out of a need for support of community business women in the Thornhill area, Isibabalo Business Services is able to assist fledgling businesses to build their skills until they are strong enough to manage all aspects of business from production to market. This BEE business is supported by Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm, who has pledged funding, as part of their Enterprise Development Programme. The wind farm also recently funded the purchase of a business vehicle for this NPO.

Entrepreneurs wanting to start businesses are often unable to generate enough income to give up wage employment, creating a vicious circle and resulting in high failure rate for start-up businesses. Besides offering training programmes, Isibabalo is able to act as a business incubator, offering support to entrepreneurs who require consistent and constant mentorship,” said Hlengiwe Radebe, Economic Development Director for Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm.