Lindiwe Matlali teaches South African girls to code—through knitting. And thanks to Matlali’s efforts, more than 40 000 young people have learned to code.
As the founder and CEO of Africa Teen Geeks, Matlali heads up the continent’s largest computer science non-profit. And her story shows the difference women entrepreneurs can make in their communities.
Matlali is one of the past winners of the Santam Women of the Future Awards. The initiative, now in its sixth year, is a partnership between Santam, FAIRLADY, True Love.
This year, Lulalend is excited to be a co-sponsor.
Trevor Gosling, Lulalend CEO and cofounder, said:
“It’s been proven that women entrepreneurs make a significant impact in their communities. However, they often face several challenges and are underrepresented. That’s why we’ve joined Women of the Future in this initiative to celebrate women business owners. Women entrepreneurs go out and they change the world, and we’re honoured to be a part of that journey.”
Organisers are calling on South African women business owners, across all sectors, to enter the competition.
Suzy Brokensha, FAIRLADY editor, said the awards wanted to honour women in business.
“The figures coming out of South Africa – and the rest of the world – are really shocking in terms of the number of women who rise to board positions, let alone CEOs of companies. And yet it’s very apparent in South Africa that many women are running their own small businesses, and in many cases those small businesses are propping up and supporting communities.
“Our decision to start these awards was two-fold: to recognise and celebrate women who were already succeeding, and to encourage and offer support to women who were setting out to start their own businesses.”
There are three categories:
Santam Woman of the Future: entrepreneur older than 30-years old who business is older than 1,000 days
Santam Rising Star: entrepreneur between the ages of 16-years old and 30-years old who is still within her first 1,000 days
Santam Social Entrepreneur: an entrepreneur who is making a difference in her community; she’s 30-years or older and her business is older than 1,000 days
The competition is open until 30 June.
The winner’s prize package includes R80 000 cash and key business services, including a PR package.
Apart from the prizes, the awards offered another kind of value to women: access to a network of experienced entrepreneurs, said Brokensha.
“The problem with being an entrepreneur is that you place enormous expectations on yourself – you have to do everything, from conceptualising the idea, to planning the business, to making staffing decisions, to working out the finances, to marketing the product.
“There are very few people in the world who can do all those things themselves. For me that’s one of the biggest rewards of the Women of the Future Awards: you connect with people who can really help, and you are given the faith in yourself and your business to make those connections work for you.”
And supporting women entrepreneurs has never been more important, said Brokensha.
“We really want to encourage women entrepreneurs in South Africa. Our economy is in crisis – we all know that. But there are women everywhere who are supporting their families by starting little businesses on the side.
“I always say, when a woman succeeds in business, she uplifts the people around her: she puts her money into education, training, support … her success spreads out like ripples in a pond; she doesn’t just channel it all into buying a flash car or a football club.”
And this year the women who enter the awards have a key role to play in rebuilding the South African economy.
“Our economy needs saving from the grassroots up, and these are the women who can do it.”
Brokensha said the awards would give entrepreneurs the support they needed to thrive during a difficult time.
“We desperately need to kick-start our economy again, and, if you have a fledgling business, you have probably taken a huge knock. You may have a great idea, but in these economic times, that great idea will need all the help it can get to survive. And that’s what the Women of the Future Awards can do for you.”
She called on all South African women to enter the awards.
“My favourite quote of all is one that comes from author Alice walker: ‘The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.’
“I would replace ‘people’ with ‘women’. With the Women of the Future Awards behind you, you have the power! Let’s make it happen.”
Small businesses can now apply for the government’s R100 billion COVID-19 loan guarantee scheme.
If your turnover is less than R300 million, you qualify for this COVID-19 SME support programme.
It is a joint initiative by the National Treasury and the banks. The South African Reserve Bank will manage the scheme and release annual reports revealing how much funds each bank has issued to SMEs under the scheme. This report will include default rates.
On 12 May, the National Treasury, the Banking Association of South Africa, and the South African Reserve Bank, released a joint media statement about the COVID-19 support scheme.
“Funds borrowed through this scheme can be used for operational expenses such as salaries, rent and lease agreements, contracts with suppliers, etc. Government and commercial banks are sharing the risks of these loans,” reads the statement.
Does your SME qualify for the scheme?
To qualify, small businesses must meet the following criteria:
Existing relationship with the bank
Good standing with their bank, e.g., up to date with other loan payments
Good standing with SARS
Must be in financial distress because of COVID-19
Loans will be released in three installments. SMEs get five years to pay off the loan, and banks may ask for collateral, according to a FAQ about the scheme.
Other conditions include an interest rate fixed at the repo rate plus 3.5%. Banks cannot change this rate;
“Businesses may not use these loans to pay dividends, make investments, pay bonuses or pay off other loans that the business may have,” reads the FAQ.
COVID-19 SME funds update
The announcement comes after the National Department of Small Business said it was running out of funds for COVID-19 support.
Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, the Minister of Small Business Development, told MPs the R530 million the department has set aside for small business relief was not enough to meet the demand, reports Fin24.
“Our pot or kitty is too small…we are working with National Treasury to make sure more money in the scheme is available”.
On Twitter, many SMEs have expressed frustration with the process. Some say they have not received feedback on the status of their applications. The department said all business owners should have heard the outcome of the applications by 1 May.
The department publishes a progress report on the debt relief funds on its website,
46,4% reported temporary closure or paused trading
30,6% said they can survive less than a month without any turnover
54,0% can survive between one and three months
Covid-19 has changed everything about how we do business, and it’s not going away anytime soon.
So, we’ve gathered advice from experts to help you forge a path in a new world.
1. Assess your situation
No business is untouched by the impact of COVID-19.
On an episode of CNBC Africa’s Business Tomorrow, Xolisa Nqodi, managing director of Shesha Tuks, said:
“It’s been really difficult for a small business like myself. We started seeing a negative impact on our operations since the last week of February. The last five weeks have not been easy for us…now that we are starting our operations again it’s forced us to look at our business with a slightly different outlook.”
How has your business changed? Have a look at your SME right now, from profits to marketing budgets to staff.
2. Develop a two-year COVID-19 SME plan
Once you’ve completed an honest assessment of your SME, it’s time to get to the next step: preparing to run a business during the age of COVID-19.
On an episode of Business Day TV, Pavlo Phitides, CEO of Aurik Business Accelerator, said SMEs needed to have a longer term view.
“The only thing we can be sure of is that Covid-19 is here to stay forever, and forever in a business life is two years. We’re going to be governed on the access of the economy based on the capacity of our health services to deal with the crisis as it unfolds and emerges…We will open the economy and close parts of it.”
Phitides said this was the only certainty.
“Hold onto that, it’s all that counts and forget everything else.”
To respond to these constant changes, business owners should come up with red, amber, and green strategies.
A red stage is a full lockdown.
“In the red stage, make sure you have staff who are able and capable to work remotely. If you can’t, the anxiety then rises. As the business owner, you are carrying the cost of that personnel, you are carrying the cost of the business.”
Another fact was that successful business practices before COVID-19 might no longer be effective.
“What led to your success coming into COVID-19…will have to be very different from the way you will find success coming out of COVID-19.”
Phitides said this included practices, business leadership, and customer behaviour.
“The environment has changed, customers have experienced fundamentally different changes ..If you don’t adopt what you did and you do well in that new reality, you could find yourself isolated from the opportunities that are going to emerge as we move out of lockdown into the new economy.”
3. Think about your next pivot carefully
When you’re coming up with ideas, it’s tempting to move into high-demand sectors.
But Nic Haralambous, serial entrepreneur, advises against this.
“If you weren’t already making masks, you’re probably not going to own the market for masks for the next 18 months. Stick to what you’re good at but try and evolve it.”
Haralambous was speaking with Business Day’s Michael Avery.
Study your industry. What are your competitors offering? What are the trends? What gaps can your business fill?
Maybe this means bringing a project forward, said Haralambous.
“What is the next thing you were going to do? What was on your development roadmap that you can bring forward to help accelerate the progress of your business because it is going on and off for the next two years.”
Haralambous suggested examining your existing skills.
“What tools do you have in your business that you can retool in different kinds of opportunities that can generate revenue for you in the medium term?
“You need to be brutal with yourself. Be honest about your business survival opportunity…start retooling as quickly as you can.”
4. Determine your funding need
SMEs need billions of rands to keep their doors open.
More than 30% of businesses told Stats SA they had applied for government funding.
This week, the Minister of Small Business Development Khumbudzo Ntshavheni , told Parliament the department’s relief scheme was running out of the money, reports Fin24.
A good place to start is to determine your funding needs.
What does your cash flow look like over the next three to six months?
Do you need working capital to meet a backlog of orders?
Perhaps you need funding to fulfil a surge in demand?
5. Look after yourself
There’s a lot of uncertainty right now.
If you’re feeling worried and stressed, you’re not alone.
Personal development and business coach Charmaine Soobramoney has been helping SME owners navigate COVID-19.
“We all need to acknowledge that this is real, and it’s normal to go through the phase of anxiety. Lives have been impacted, the economy has been impacted, people are losing their jobs…People have reasons to feel anxious,” said Soobramoney in this video interview with Lulalend.
Soobramoney called on business owners to move towards accepting the new reality.
“This is the situation. Being anxious is not going to help me move forward in the way that I need to.”
She shared the mindset used by business owners who were finding traction:
“I’m in this situation. I have no control over it but I have control over how I choose to view my business , view the future, and grab opportunities that present itself.
“When you’re in this fearful state, you feel like the world is closing in. Yes, it is but you have control over how you open it.”
If you’re looking for fast access to funding, learn more about how Lulalend can help you grow. Click here for more information on how we work with business owners like you.
To apply, complete the application form on Bizportal.
Communicate with staff
Communication with staff is critical, said Robyn Stone, Head of Talent at Lulalend.
Stone suggested the following points to consider when communicating with staff:
Kindness was the most important, added Stone:
“The state of current affairs is heavy on the heart, so it’s important to be kind at all times. Not only as the Business Owner or HR delivering the comms, but by encouraging kindness between colleagues and teams. When you’re communicating remotely, things like empathy can get lost in translation so it’s important to express warmth in your tone,” said Stone.
Make sure your company is following health and safety measures
Develop a plan for phased return of staff
Stone suggested creating a shared document so all employees can check updates to the return to work plan.
The number of employees you have will influence your back to work plan.
Companies with fewer than 10 employees, for instance, need to comply with less requirements. These are discussed in clause 40 of this Gazette from the Department of Employment and Labour.
Work from home first
Staff who can work from home should do so, states the regulations.
Pregnant and vulnerable employees should be allowed to work from or work from an isolated space in the office, reports the National Employer Association of South Africa’s COVID-19 toolkit.
All your workers need a permit to come to work
You will need to complete a permit for each staff member considered essential. They will need to carry the permit and a form of identification when they travel to work.
Maintain social distancing
Some industries may only allow a percentage of workers to return to the office.
All workplaces must cater to social distancing requirements, said Nxesi.
“With regard to social distancing, workplaces must be arranged to ensure a minimum of 1½ meters between workers. If this is not practicable, physical barriers must be erected and workers must be supplied free of charge with appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).”
Stone encouraged companies to consider creating a shared calendar for when staff would be in the office.
Getting to work
Regulations have been relaxed for people travelling to work by public transport or car.