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Giving a helping hand to young South African entrepreneurs

Our SAB KickStart initiative has helped more than 3,500 new businesses to start up and create jobs

“They helped me to move the company out of my home and into a central business district location, as well as teaching me how to delegate things and create a system for the business.”

That testimonial comes from Ayabulela Stwayi, one of thousands of young black business people who have been supported by SAB KickStart, the youth entrepreneurship initiative launched by our business in South Africa, The South African Breweries (SAB). Ayabulela’s branding and signage company, Now U Know, was a SAB KickStart finalist in 2009, receiving a R90,000 (US$8,500) grant which it invested in machinery and office equipment.

SAB KickStart, launched in 1995, is one of the longest-running schemes of its kind in the country. It works as a competition, with successful entrants participating in an 18-month programme of business support, with access to skills training, a tailored business development strategy and grant funding. 

It begins each year with a call-to-entry, after which 60 of the best potential candidates are selected to participate in an intensive two-week training programme. During training each participant is assisted with developing an effective business plan, which they present to a panel of independent judges. Entrepreneurs with the best business plans are selected to move into the regional phase of the programme and 18 of those are then chosen as national finalists. Each national finalist’s business undergoes an intensive assessment, which determines their grant funding and business development strategy, as well as customised mentorship over a period of 12 months.

Thabang Molefe’s company, The Roots Healthcare Centre, has gone from strength to strength since it won the national prize in 2004, giving it the funding it needed to open a second health and beauty centre to join its original business in Soweto. Now the company enjoys a multi-million rand turnover and has created more than 40 jobs for women. 

Thabang, who is a qualified medical practitioner and professional beauty therapist, is a firm advocate for SAB KickStart.

We’re very grateful to KickStart for taking our company from small beginnings to a higher-class business. We’ve grown the business in an amazing way over the last eight years and we hope to see others benefiting in a similar way in future.
Thabang Molefe | Owner of The Roots Healthcare Centre

SAB KickStart looks to help start-ups that are sustainable and create jobs; the national finalists in 2013 had between them created more than 60 jobs within their communities.

Of those finalists, the top prize of R500,000 (US$47,000) went to Anda Maqanda, owner of AM Group, an engineering consultancy. Anda, who also won a fact-finding business benchmark trip to Beijing, revealed that the programme has enabled him to make useful connections with a number of organisations; for example, the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth, for whom Anda will be conducting a renewable energy feasibility study.

Other 2013 winners included Lyle Truter of PVC pipe fittings manufacturer TruPVC, who secured R250,000 and a trip to Utah, and Ricardo Hood of industrial training services company SIH Training, who won R150,000 and a trip to Tokyo.  

But every finalist is a winner, according to Boipelo Nkadimeng, SAB Head of Enterprise Development and Community Partnerships. Referring to the teaching and advice they all receive, Boipelo notes: “Providing this comprehensive business development support, we believe, can make a significant contribution to growing high-impact businesses that are sustainable beyond the normal failure period of three years.”

SAB KickStart 2014 sees a hand-picked group of 60 entrants travelling to Johannesburg in July and August for their two weeks of intensive business skills training.  

The SAB KickStart ethos is now spreading to other African countries, with the programme recently launching in Lesotho, following a successful introduction to Botswana.

You can hear more from Ayabulela Stwayi, Thabang Molefe and other KickStart alumni by visiting the programme’s YouTube channel.