More than 60 budding entrepreneurs will be graduating this year as part of the Imbizo Business Acumen Programme, which is jointly managed by Nedbank, Old Mutual, Mutual & Federal, Masisizane and Wiphold.
It seeks to increase economic activity and financial inclusion in rural communities.
According to Nkosinathi Msiza, senior communications manager at Nedbank, since launching the pilot project in 2012, the programme has helped more than 200 promising entrepreneurs, equipping them with training and mentoring to efficiently run their own businesses.
Says Msiza: “In 2011, the Imbizo steering committee wanted to develop a formal strategy that would guide future enterprise development in all Imbizo sites.
“The objective was to provide basic business acumen training and mentoring to people who were already running their own local small businesses.
“Another objective was to equip business owners with basic knowledge, skills and insight to run sustainable businesses.”
The pilot programme was rolled out at three Imbizo sites (Centane, Acornhoek and Kliptown) and aims to train 24 business owners per site, or 72 overall. Six mentors were trained to facilitate the course and to mentor participants.
In 2013, another intake of entrepreneurs was trained at the same sites due to spillover from 2012’s training sessions. In this intake, 72 clients were trained. The same mentors were used.
The Imbizo Business Acumen Programme consists of nine weeks of training. Business owners are then subjected to three months of mentoring, where they submit weekly money management forms to the mentors. Those who successfully complete the mentoring phase graduate.
After graduation, Imbizo continues to mentor business owners for a further six months.
Msiza says 64 business owners will graduate by end October, a step up from the 48 micro-business owners who graduated from the 2012 intake.
Most business owners who participated were sourced from organisations and associations that are a part of the Imbizo network of stakeholders.
Criteria for the selection process include already being in a business, some level of high school education, literacy, at least six months of business experience, demonstrated commitment, and businesses that displayed viability and potential to grow.
Nhlanhla Maseko, owner of Kidos Design & Upholstery, specialising in renewing old furniture and car interiors, joined the Imbizo Business Acumen Programme in 2012.
He says: “I’m now able to properly market my business.”
Maseko’s business also received development financing from the programme partners to enable him to grow his business.