Vani Moodley, chief executive of Vani Moodley and Associates, is focused on the development of small, medium and micro enterprises, helping them to grow their asset bases and create employment. Supplied
DURBAN - A top Durban businesswoman is making strides empowering local entrepreneurs to develop business strategies and skills to grow their bottom line and create jobs.

Vani Moodley, chief executive of Vani Moodley and Associates, who started her own business in 2006 after working for more than a decade with NGOs developing small medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs), is providing entrepreneurs with professional training and coaching.

Moodley, an immediate past vice-president of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, founded Vuka Uzithathe, an NGO focused on gender and economic empowerment, in 1999 after managing seven national branches of the Independent Business Enrichment Centre.

She has a post-graduate diploma in adult education from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, a Master’s degree in public and development management from the University of the Witwatersrand, and 25 years’ experience in the sector. She gained global best practice knowledge in 26 countries.

She founded the NGO after conducting research in India with the Self-Employed Women’s Association and the International Labour Organisation’s Gender Desk with whom she collaborated to further develop her business training manual to meet international best practice.

When the NGO closed in 2006, Moodley opened her own small business focusing on enterprise development, business analysis, leadership and management skills training. She provides her services to SMMEs, corporations and government agencies.

She co-designed a small enterprise development coaching programme with the Small Enterprise Development Agency, which has been used with success since 2012.

“It is a 10-month block intervention with 11 coaching sessions where we meet once or twice a month with the business person. We provide them with group coaching and individual support and information and skills training,” Moodley said.

“We have had an amazing impact and with the last group of entrepreneurs have seen an increase in turnover of 274% (the target was 15%) and an increase in employment creation by 47% (the target was 10%) - 417 new jobs were created in 10 months. “The asset value increased by 75%. Despite the economic recession, employment numbers increased. Interestingly, the asset value increase was higher than employment statistics. It can be concluded that the entrepreneurs chose to be conservative by investing in assets and not employment creation due to the economic downturn and imminent uncertainty.” Moodley said the impact did not stop at the end of the intervention.

“The programme also encourages them to do business together and to share networks,” Moodley said.

Moodley introduced local entrepreneurs, several in the leather footwear, washing powder and clothing manufacturing, printing and construction sectors, to international delegates during a local trade mission last year.

“Eight of our entrepreneurs were selected to expand their business into Mauritius.”

Moodley is motivated not only by the economic growth she has witnessed, but by the personal development of individual entrepreneurs. She said many entrepreneurs struggled with personal issues as well as business trials, such as cash-flow management, access to finance and skills deficits to grow the business.

“Many people have technical skills and get into business without having business management skills. We provide them with access to knowledge, and introduce incentive programmes and international experts to help them bridge the information gap to grow the business and access finance.”

- THE MERCURY