Bontle Tshole founded Baaa Health in 2017.
Bontle Tshole founded Baaa Health in 2017.

How this SA businesswoman transformed her business to survive Covid-19 lockdown

By Yasmine Jacobs Time of article published Jun 10, 2021

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Many businesses in South Africa and around the world suffered a blow when the Covid-19 lockdown hit. Baaa Health was no exception.

Baaa Health is a health bar that was founded in 2017 by chief executive Bontle Tshole.

Tshole’s goal was to offer consumers healthy and convenient meal options and was on a very promising trajectory since its launch.

Her business had even caught the eye of the SAB Foundation’s Tholoana Programme in 2018 and was selected from more than 2 000 applications nationwide to participate in the programme, which aimed to develop entrepreneurial capabilities.

Tshole was also the winner of the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller and the Ekurhuleni Youth Summit in 2019, and her business bedded down big-name clients such as Nestle and the Gauteng Department of Health.

Unfortunately, the pandemic had devastating effects on the business.

“Baaa was in the process of launching our first benchmark store, and Covid-19 completely derailed these plans.

“We experienced a major dip in business during that time,” said Tshole.

Tshole added that the easing of restrictions led to a gradual return in business.

“We also saw a sharp spike in sales of our Baaa Vitality Shots, immunity boosters which are made from a blend of ginger, lemon, cayenne, and other ingredients, and these potent little powerhouses played a significant role in our recovery.”

Despite the initial blow to her business, lockdown had a silver lining.

“We found other avenues to pursue, such as e-commerce. What worked for us before lockdown, didn’t work for us during the lockdown, and as such, we pivoted.

“This pivot is what allowed us to gain traction.”

This resilience paid off as Tshole was recently recognised as one of Forbes Africa’s ’30 under 30’ young innovators and risk-takers – especially poignant in the era of a pandemic.

Baaa Health is one of the beneficiaries of Tractor’s #20in21 SME Initiative.

Tractor Outdoor’s #20in21 SME Initiative was born out of a desire to support South Africa’s small and medium businesses (SMEs) that were dealt a blow by the Covid-19 pandemic.

So what is next for the business?

“We’re in the process of working on a new model that will allow the business to thrive beyond our initial plans, and we are also gaining great momentum in our retail offering, which we launched during the lockdown,” said Tshole.

BUSINESS REPORT

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