Pinky Matshaka attributes 80% of business support received by her startup business to services and referrals by The Business Place (TBP).
However, had Matshaka not stumbled across an advertisement in a newspaper on business support services offered by TBP, she might not be flying off to a trade mission in Malaysia later this year.
But, she did and now almost five years later, Matshaka can barely contain her excitement for the upcoming trade mission and the possibilities it will bring.
With several support centres across the country and more to open their doors soon, TBP seeks to offer new ways of meeting the requirements of entrepreneurs who want to start or expand their businesses.
Matshaka, who owns wholesale petroleum supplier Sipho Shipping, initially started the business with former business partner, Sipho Speelman, who left the business in 2010.
She says she decided to start a petroleum business in 2009 after years of working in the industry.
“I worked for Engen and did a number of roadshows for it. I then became interested in the industry,” says Matshaka.
She then approached large petroleum and energy businesses who advised her that the wholesale supply industry was not saturated.
This was when Matshaka realised she needed a business plan to kickstart her business and when she came across an advertisement by TBP, she went straight to their Cape Town offices to see how they could assist her business.
“TBP firstly referred me to the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) to help put a business plan together for me.
Once I had a business plan, they also refered me to the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (Sefa) for access to finance, but I was unsuccessful, and am now applying to the National Empowerment Fund (NEF),” says Matshaka.
However, Matshaka is not too perturbed about the access to funding since a business support centre has assured her that if she lands a big contract, they will assist her with funding.
TBP was also instrumental in development for Matshaka’s website (www.siphoshipping.co.za) being set up, as the organisation referred her to the National Youth Development Agency, which also assisted her with marketing material for her business.
“TBP also sent me on export training and I will soon be going to Malaysia on a petroleum trade mission. I am hoping that this will add leverage to my business in terms of marketing and that I can connect with other companies to do business with,” says Matshaka.
She says she highly recommends that other business owners make use of TBP and rates the assistance she received as eight out of ten.
According to TBP Cape Town general manager, Lavendra Naidoo, business owners can look forward to extra services during the first quarter of 2014.
“We will continue to offer our primary range of services which include one-on-one consulting for start-up and existing business owners, training (monthly business skills series), basic resources (meeting space, internet access, company registrations) and legal resources via relationships with private attorneys for initial pro bono consultations.
We also intend to expand this by offering complementary value-added services to our clients in the first or second quarter of 2014.
“For example, partnering with private sector companies that provide accounting, tax and other related services which will enhance our total offering to our clients,” says Naidoo.