Lively entrepreneurs bypass bureaucracy

Published Oct 20, 2022


AS a young person considering starting your own business, you should avoid relying on government “handouts” because being passed from pillar to post may discourage you, according to the dynamic duo of Mpho Serabele, 32, and Dimakatso Motiang-Ngoveni, 30, from North West.

Serabele described how, after giving up on begging for money from the government’s youth funding schemes, she and her business partner dug deep into their pockets last year – using their monthly salaries – to finance Twin Chicks, a small-scale chicken business they co-own.

According to Kganki Matabane, chief executive of the Black Business Council, of which the businesswomen are members, there has been an increase in young people starting their own businesses, but the environment in South Africa is still not very conducive to it, because financial institutions are unwilling to take risks.

“The environment in South Africa does not support entrepreneurs, because there are no risk-funding institutions. America has got so many institutions that are prepared to fund even ideas,” Matabane said.

He said when young people sought help or information on how to approach government institutions for assistance, they were frustrated – even by receptionists.

As a result, according to Matabane, the council was running access to funding and marketing projects that communicated directly with private and public funding institutions on behalf of business owners who had requested the council’s intervention.

The projects conduct regular outreach programmes that are attended by representatives from funding institutions who explain the entire process.

“We call these people to come and explain, and they provide their direct email so that people can reach them,” Matabane said.

He encouraged aspiring entrepreneurs with business ideas who required assistance to contact [email protected].

Serabele works full time as a bank vendor management consultant, and also owns and operates Comfort Luxurious Wellness Spa in Johannesburg, which she founded in 2018. Meanwhile, Motiang-Ngoveni operates her own dispositional mindfulness clinical psychology practices in Pretoria East, Centurion and Sandton.

Motiang-Ngoveni, who started her private practice in 2018 after a struggle to get employment, said: “When I realised that my salary was not enough, I said: ‘Let me start another business’, which is the chicken business.”

She urged the youth not to make excuses and to face challenges head-on.

“We blame the country and the government, but we should shift our mindset to say: ‘What can I do to help myself get out of that poverty line?’ We should stop making excuses and create opportunities for ourselves.

“Therefore, they (the youth) should believe in themselves and create opportunities for themselves, and shift their minds from wanting to be provided (for),” Motiang-Ngoveni said.

Back home in rural Madidi village, in North West province, their Twin Chicks farm, registered under their Diphotse ke Leruo company, is thriving and has become the talk of the town.

Diphotse ke Leruo has been accepted as a member of Proudly South African, a “buy local” marketing campaign founded in 2001 in the wake of the late former president Nelson Mandela’s 1998 presidential job summit.

Serabele said attempts to obtain funding through government programmes were futile. She and Motiang-Ngoveni had approached several government youth development schemes “without success”.

“We approached the Department of Agriculture in Pretoria, but we were sent back to North West for funding. We went to the North West, but the process was very slow... then we made a conscious decision not to be dependent on the government, because as young people if you are dependent on other people you eventually lose interest and give up.

“We decided that we would fund the business from our monthly salaries, and if we were so lucky to get funding at a later stage, it would find us along the way,” said Serabele.

Serabele and Motiang-Ngoveni have not been deterred by issues such as Eskom’s load shedding and water-supply shortages, which they said had hampered their chicken production.

To circumvent load shedding, they had turned to solar power and, on occasion, braziers (imbawula – large metal containers in which coal or charcoal is burned). To keep their chicks warm during the winter, the braziers normally need about 20 bags of coal per month. Each bag contains 50kg of coal and costs R120, amounting to a total monthly cost of R2 400.

Owing to the underdeveloped village’s lack of piped water, they get water delivered by municipal trucks to fill their JoJo tanks during water shortages.

Serabele described their struggle to gain access to the food retail market. She said that, to keep costs manageable, they would only raise 400 chickens per growing cycle, and then sell the stock to small local supermarkets, butcheries, and shisanyama outlets. They then use various social media platforms to promote their professionally packaged products.

“We are more an ekasi economy because, inasmuch as everyone wants to go to Shoprite and Pick n Pay, it is not as easy as people make it seem. There are documents that are required, and you need to meet certain criteria, and we don’t have money to do certain things,” Serabele said.

The duo also empowers unemployed youth by tasking them with selling their products for a commission. Serabele stated that they had begun a project to teach young people how to start a farming business.

They expressed concern about expanding their business to include more robust livestock such as pigs and cattle. However, through their Black Business Council membership they would be able to network with more influential business people who would help them climb the success ladder.

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