The future looks bright for the owners of the organic Oh-Lief brand after bagging a R1-million investment in the Standard Bank Think Big Challenge reality TV series.
Since winning the challenge last month, sisters Christine Buchanan and Louiza Rademan have already bought a new machine valued at R60 000 that will help them to speed up production.
In addition, the sisters plan to build a factory which will set them back another R600 000.
The series which was aired on SABC3 in September saw 12 entrepreneurs from various sectors compete over 10 weeks to win the top prize – R1 million in investment.
But, even after receiving and spending some of the cash, the sisters still cannot believe their good fortune.
Says Buchanan: “In some way, reality has still not sunk in. I can’t explain the joy we, our families and employees feel since winning. The show has opened doors for us as we have more customers than we ever had before”.
She says since the pair started the business from Rademan’s home in 2010, they can now for the first time focus more on increasing the brand awareness of their products.
“We’ve focused so much on the manufacturing side that we now understand, thanks to the show, that we have an advantage to grow if we raise the awareness of our products,” she says.
Their first step toward this is to distribute 20 000 free product samples as part of a marketing project with Kalahari.com, a move that the sisters hope will introduce the business to the overseas market.
“In addition to this we’ve focused on securing a spot of land where we can build a new and bigger factory to enable us to increase production to deal with the increasing demand and ultimately boost sales,” says Rademan.
The remainder of the money will go towards the business’ short-term and long-term online marketing and other investments.
The judges were particularly impressed by the pair’s presentation on their plan to grow their Cape Town based business through innovative marketing and expansion projects. This includes marketing campaigns on social media as well as roadshows.
“We’re also partnering with Woolworth’s in launching some of our products at their stores in Cape Town and Johannesburg,” says Buchanan.
At the halfway point in the competition, six of the contestants were given R100 000 to take immediate steps to improve their businesses – while the final six that remained in the competition.
The use of these funds was monitored by the board who took this into account when deciding on each winning business.
The Oh-Lief sisters were able to avoid elimination by timeously completing set tasks and showing confidence and knowledge of their business when presenting to the judging panel.
“It was tough and there was a point when we were so exhausted because the challenges were rigorous and we were up against more experienced entrepreneurs,” says Rademan.
Ravi Govender, head of small enterprises at Standard Bank which sponsored the show, applauded the two women.
- The series can be viewed online via www.standardbank.co.za/thinkbig.