From till-packer to owner of a supermarket in one of South Africa’s biggest retail networks, Shadreck Siziba’s business journey has taken him to the top of the class in the Small Business Academy (SBA) development programme for township entrepreneurs run by the University of Stellenbosch School (USB).
Siziba, 32, owner of Avonwood SuperSpar in Elsies River received the Top Student award for the highest mark overall in the 2021 SBA programme at the recent graduation ceremony for 14 entrepreneurs from the greater Cape Town area – and he says the programme has helped put him on track to achieve his vision of owning a chain of supermarkets across the Cape flats.
Nocawe Nompunga, owner of Alatha’s Daycare Centre in Khayelitsha, won the award for the best business plan, while Mambiki’s Security Services owner Constant Mambiki was recognised as the most improved student.
Another 14 participants in the Stellenbosch leg of the programme also graduated recently, bringing the total number of entrepreneurs from disadvantaged areas trained and mentored by the SBA over the past nine years to more than 350, SBA head Dr Armand Bam said.
The nine-month small business development programme by USB, sponsored by Absa and Distell, equips entrepreneurs operating in disadvantaged areas with the business knowledge and practical skills to grow sustainable, job-creating businesses.
“The vision of the SBA is to make a difference in the lives of small business owners in low-income communities and build their capacity to ensure the sustainability of their businesses, with positive impact on their surrounding community,” Dr Bam said.
Bam said that the majority of start-up small businesses in South Africa fail in their first 12 to 24 months mainly because the entrepreneurs, while having the technical skills in their sector, lack the knowledge of how to plan, run and sustain a business.
“The SBA aims to fill that gap and, unlike many other SME support programmes, we don’t hand over a certificate and walk away – we continue the involvement through mentoring, workshops and masterclasses, and that is key to the programme’s success. Our impact research has shown that the majority of participants have remained in their business, have grown profitability and grown employment,” he said.
Siziba, 32, who started his career in retail as a seasonal casual worker at his local Spar in Benoni after finishing high school, said he had benefited from Spar’s employee-to-owner empowerment programme which had enabled him to establish his own SuperSpar and Tops at Spar liquor store in Avonwood Square shopping centre in Elsies River in 2020.
Now, he plans to “give back” by setting up a profit-sharing scheme for his 135 employees and is entering into partnerships with other small retailers in the group and buying an interest their stores.
Siziba says his financial plans are on track to establish or take over one or two smaller stores on the Cape Flats as well as open another SuperSpar in a shopping centre in the next two years, while his 10-year plan is to become his own landlord by buying the current premises.
He said the SBA had made a “huge impact” in setting achievable plans in place to achieve his goal of owning a chain of supermarkets.
“The programme opens your mind to looking at all aspects of your business, rather than focusing only on rands and cents. I’ve been able to crystallise the vision for the business, and drill down into our underlying principles and values that guide decision making. The SBA has deepened my management perspective and enabled me create a properly managed business,” Siziba said.
Nocawe Nompunga, 48, runs Alatha’s Daycare Centre in Khayelitsha, providing educare for 26 children from birth to 5 years, as well as after-school care for learners from Grade R to Grade 2.
Previously a financial adviser for a large financial services company, she said she saw a need in Khayelitsha for a clean and safe environment to care for children of working parents, with qualified teachers providing early childhood development and literacy and numeracy education.
Initially set up in her own house, the centre now has three classrooms and Nompunga’s vision is to expand into a fully-funded educare centre offering additional skills development for children of all ages, including classes in English and technology.
Winner of the award for best business plan, she said the SBA had helped her to improve the management of her business and she was implementing what she had learned, especially in improving the marketing of the centre.
“Achieving the certificate from the SBA programme has raised the credibility of the business. It raises the standard, gives parents confidence that the centre is run properly and is a selling point in marketing the centre,” she said.
Most exciting for Nompunga, is that she has been asked to be a mentor on the 2022 SBA programme.
“I know how difficult it is to start a business, and I’m excited to be able to help others on their journey,” she said.
Constant Mambiki, 37, worked two jobs, as a waiter and a security guard, to save up the cash to take his business, Mambiki’s Security Services, full-time in 2013 along with his wife Malise.
The couple both had a background in the security industry and their savings enabled them to buy a car and a bakkie for cash and rent premises to kickstart the business.
They now employ 21 full-time and eight part-time qualified security officers, have recently purchased their own premises in Delft for cash and established a high-tech 24-hour control room and reaction unit.
Level 1 B-BBEE certified and registered with the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA), the company services mainly business clients across all areas of Cape Town with a full spectrum of security, guarding and access control services.
Mambiki said his vision was to grow the business in size and profitability, continuing to provide affordable services, create employment for disadvantaged individuals and set up his own in-house security training centre.
He said he was thrilled to have been recognised as the most improved student and that the SBA had exposed him to new ideas and knowledge, along with practical skills to improve his business.