Jobs, jobs and more jobs! The crisis of employment and the power of small entrepreneurs to meet this need came through loud and clear at the annual Tholoana Award ceremony held at the Birchwood Hotel on 5 June. Some 37 business owners graduated from the Tholoana Enterprise Programme and seven received honours for their outstanding accomplishments while on the 20-month intensive programme.
Doreen Kosi, a trustee of the SAB Foundation, which funds the Tholoana programme said, “We are deeply committed to the transformation of the economy by addressing the jobs crisis.” She highlighted that in addition to employing 309 people, this group of entrepreneurs also created 53 new permanent jobs, which represents a 30% growth overall.
Up to the challenge
Kosi said, “We believe that small business can transform this country’s economy by becoming exporters too, earning foreign exchange, while lessening South Africa’s dependence on imported goods. A commitment to excellence and the ability to consistently deliver high quality products, in big volumes, on time is the challenge for all small businesses.”
She was optimistic that the programme’s graduates were up to the challenge. After completing the programme, the group’s collective financial growth stood at a nominal 59% with individual growth at a remarkable 182%. This group also created 53 new permanent jobs, which represents a 30% increase in employment figures.
Now in its seventh year of existence, the programme, which is powered by business development professionals, Fetola, offers intensive skills training workshops, face-to-face mentorship, and access to funds and markets.
Bridgit Evans, Director of the Foundation, said, “Our priority is to provide opportunities for women and youth, people in the rural areas, and persons with disabilities.” She was excited by the results of the most recent cohort, whose graduation was celebrated with a range of awards for the top performers.
The winners of the performance awards came from Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga, Western Cape and Limpopo. The Tholoana Award, the main award of the evening, which carried a R10 000 prize went to Thabo Ntswane of Thabo Tool and Equipment Hire owner in Polokwane.
Upington butcher, Hermanus Stevens of Kolskoot Vleismark, earned the Achievement Award for the business showing the most profitable and sustainable growth. The Superstar Award went to Bukelwa Ngoqo of SunKissed Fashion in East London and Netto Maluka, of Mbombela Experience in Nelspruit. The Standing Ovation Award went to Claudia Williams of CW Williams Fruit, in Pniel. The Spirit Award was given to Mamokiba Makuwa, of TKY Trading Enterprise, in Limpopo. The Social Media and Marketing Award was won by Afika Mbandazayo of the Eastern Cape.
Kosi reflected on the forecast that by 2030, some 90% of new jobs in South Africa’s economy will be created by small, medium and micro enterprises. “In reality,” she said, “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. The value of the Tholoana programme is that our participant growth has climbed by 65 % and the long-term survival rates of those taking part in the programme has improved by 95% This is light years ahead of the national average.”
In conclusion, she said, “I hope there will be many fine applications when entrepreneurs are welcome to apply for this programme again in August. Let every graduate here tonight step forward and sing with Hugh Masekela, ‘Thuma Mina’ to go forward, in strength and competence, to make those jobs that will save the youth and repair the country.”
For more information, visit the SAB Foundation website – www.sabfoundation.co.za – or register your interest at firstname.lastname@example.org.