A 33-year-old female entrepreneur who runs her own mobile coffee and health food business was named the overall winner of the Small Business Academy (SBA) awards ceremony hosted by the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) on Tuesday evening.
The awards are held to honour small business owners from low-income areas of greater Cape Town.
During the awards ceremony held at the university’s Bellville campus on Tuesday, Bellville resident Lisa Ndyalivani of WooWfoods, a mobile coffee shop taking hot coffee and healthy food to commuters, students and workers in Bellville, was named the Distell Top Student with the highest mark overall after completing the sponsored SBA programme of the USB.
The nine-month development programme is aimed at empowering small business owners in disadvantaged areas to grow their businesses.
Jacqueline Julie of Mitchells Plain and Vincent Zokufa of Eerste River joined Ndyalivani in the top three small businesses award winners.
Julie, 50, won the ABSA Best Business Plan award for her Xcelent Crunchies & Homebakes which has turned a part-time home-baking setup into a growing formal business that supports her family of eight, while the 37-year-old Zokufa who owns ConnectUs ICT in Eerste River was recognised for his innovative business model providing training and support to disadvantaged schools to use their IT resources more effectively, with the De Beers Business with Most Potential award.
SBA head Dr Marietjie Theron-Wepener said the three winners had in common a drive to succeed and had demonstrated the ability to innovate and adapt their businesses to changing circumstances, “an essential trait of entrepreneurs”, she said.
“What is especially exciting is to see that they, and other participants on the programme, are not just thinking about how to grow their own businesses but also how to share what they have learnt and create opportunities for others to get into business too. This is how small business becomes the economic engine that it should be,” Dr Theron-Wepener said.
When Ndyalivani realised two years ago that tourism was “too seasonal for sustainable income”, she tapped into the food truck trend and converted her tourist bus into a mobile kitchen that starts the day at 6am serving commuters at the Bellville taxi rank and then moving on to the University of the Western Cape (UWC) campus from mid-morning to late afternoon.
“When schools are closed and business is quiet, we move around industrial areas like Parow. Being mobile means we can go to wherever our customers are to be found,” she said.
“What sets us apart is a focus on healthy food, because street food can be very fatty and rely on processed foods. We practice healthy cooking, grilling our burgers instead of frying, using fresh salad ingredients in our brown bread sandwiches and trying to educate our customers,” she added.
According to Ndyalivani, the next step in her growing operation, which now employs two additional people, is to invest in a second vehicle to expand the operation to her birthplace of Khayelitsha and to develop a portable WooWfoods healthy foods stand that can create opportunities for unemployed youth to start their own businesses.
She said not only had the SBA refined her practical business skills, particularly in managing her finances better, marketing the business and becoming more operationally savvy, but she had also been inspired to continue with her education and has applied to do a postgraduate diploma in business next year.
Best business plan winner Julie supplemented the family income for more than 20 years selling home-baked crunchies. She said turning it into a fully-fledged business “took a mind-shift, a realisation that I could build something lasting”.
Although still in the start-up stage, she said the business had grown “immensely” in the time she was participating in the SBA, with turnover leaping from R1,000 last November to a current R13,000 a month.
“Everyone has something they can do, like I bake, but have no idea of what it takes to run a sustainable business. Now that I have learned that, I want to teach other women how to get the finance, operations, marketing all in place, along with a plan for them to follow,” she said.
Port Elizabeth-born Zokufa said he has a vision to make sure that no pupil leaves school without the basic IT skills needed for employment or for coping with tertiary studies.
“We find schools in impoverished areas have ICT infrastructure, but no specialist to look after it and a situation where most of the equipment is not working, often due to minor issues, and no one knows how to fix it. Access for the pupils to use the computers then becomes extremely limited and sometimes is restricted only to those taking computing subjects,” he said.
“We are very proud of how far the three winners and all the participants on the programme have come in just nine months through increasing their knowledge and gaining practical business skills,” Dr Theron-Wepener concluded.
– African News Agency (ANA)