“From unemployment to self-employment.”
This is how Trevor Stander, an Atlantis business owner who is in the process of securing his biggest contract, describes the change to his circumstances after being assisted through the Seda Atlantis Renewable Energy Business Incubator (Sarebi) New Venture Creation (NVC) Development Programme.
The NVC programme was introduced to provide local communities with an opportunity to develop their business knowledge and acumen to take up opportunities within the renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy saving sector. As part of the program, Stander had to transform his idea into a viable business opportunity in the renewable energy sector.
According to the centre manager at the recently launched Sarebi, Nafeesa Dinie, the Atlantis-based non-profit company is a hybrid model of incubation that aims to support the startup and growth of businesses in the renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy saving sector.
“We aim to design, develop and implement customised programmes based on the demands of the incubator clients, that is, business owners in the sector, as well as the demands of industry players and markets, to ensure that entrepreneurs are developed to take up opportunities in the sector,” says Dinie.
Stander, who owns TS LED Lighting Solutions, says he first saw an advertisement in a newspaper last year calling for local communities to apply for participation in a customised development programme geared at developing local small businesses in the renewable energy sector.
This was run in partnership with the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda), Sarebi and the local West Coast FET College. Seda forms part of the Department of Economic Development and Tourism’s partner network.
He applied but assumed that at the age of 52, he would be too old for the programme.
Just over a year later, Stander received his certificate of programme completion after successfully completing the early stage development programme theory, idea generation and scoping, practical application and experiential components of the program over a period of 12 months.
He applied and was accepted into the program, where he was introduced to a Sarebi partner that manufactures LED lights. He then decided to outsource and sell LED lights.
“I registered my business and am awaiting the registration documents but already have seven clients since starting my business in August,” says Stander.
Since starting the programme, Stander is now computer literate and says he has acquired sector knowledge and business intelligence, has developed business skills and is being mentored and coached by the incubator staff in running his business and securing and growing his client base by profiling himself in the sector. Once his three-year incubation period is over, he plans to move into his own business premises and employ more staff. “I am contracting an electrician now, but I plan to employ two more people as the business grows,” says Stander.
Dinie says the intention of the Western Cape Provincial
Government is to develop Atlantis into the Green Hub for the Western Cape.Sarebi offers a range of programs, products and services that provides aspiring, emerging and existing businesses in the sector with resources such as office space, shared administrative and operating resources, sector knowledge and information, access to coaches and mentors, technical expertise, assistance in business feasibility and planning, access to business networking opportunities, and access to markets, funding partners, technology and innovation development programmes.
“Incubation allows for the reduction of startup costs in the early stage of business startup and allows the business owner to focus on their core business and to secure markets while receiving operational support, technical expertise and hand-held coaching and mentoring to grow into self-sustainable enterprises, therefore increasing their survival rate,” says Dinie.
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