It’s not often that your unemployed status can help you qualify for anything, least of all the opportunity to own a franchise.
But this is exactly what the Micro-francise Accelerator (MFA) offers women entrepreneurs who want to go into business in the beauty sector.
Just ask four unemployed women who are now each the proud owner of their own Amazi outlet which is based on one of South Africa’s largest beauty franchisor models, Sorbet Beauty Salons and Nail Bars.
The MFA, a subsidiary of The Clothing Bank, empowers unemployed women who are interested in beauty to own their own Amazi franchise nail bars which offers services such as manicures, pedicures, overlays and fills.
Zelma Matinise, Nandipha Babiso, Pumza Magaleni and Thembisa Tenza are all full of praise for the MFA team who gave them an opportunity to buy into a well-known brand that people trust.
But it nearly didn’t go their way, as the women struggled to come up with the R2 000 deposit needed to secure the franchise.
Magaleni says she wanted to give up as her husband was the only breadwinner, but eventually her husband was able to qualify for a loan through the Amy Biehl Foundation where he worked.
Tenza, similarly, also secured a loan through the foundation where she was working as a volunteer.
Babiso had to scrape together the remaining R1 000 for the deposit, by buying and selling clothes in her spare time, while her husband supplied her with the balance.
Matinise was almost eliminated from the programme after she failed to come up with the money.
“I was in tears and if it wasn’t for the motivation and support I received from the MFA team, I would have given up,” says Matinise.
Eventually a Good Samaritan lent her the money.
The women all agree that this experience taught them a lot about themselves –how to handle money and not to give up no matter the obstacles – and would also stand them in good stead as independent business women.
Matinise, who is based in Fish Hoek, has already rented space from an established hair salon in her area.
“It is an ideal arrangement as I stand to benefit from their clients wanting their nails done and vice versa,” she says.
Babiso, Magaleni and Tenza from Khayelitsha, Gugulethu and Nyanga respectively, will run their Amazi franchises from home.
They market themselves by handing out flyers and business cards in malls and in their communities.
MFA project manager Divya Vasant says the micro-franchising model takes the proven operational principles of traditional franchising and adapts it to the needs of very small enterprises located in developing markets.
MFA’s micro-franchise opportunity is only open to unemployed women from previously disadvantaged comm-unities who can demonstrate a degree of business acumen and understand what a franchise is all about.
Vasant says women who meet the criteria are then required to put down a deposit of R2 000 which would not only secure them a franchise, but will also enable them to undergo eight weeks of induction training.
This includes training on marketing and brand awareness, technical aspects, as well as some business mentoring and training on how to implement sustainable opportunities to increase revenue.
The R2 000 fee also entitles the franchisee to tap into a secure supply chain, to secure reliable equipment and maintenance and to benefit from ongoing site visits and mentoring.
Vasant says the women are encouraged to come up with the money themselves.
As is the case with standard franchise agreements, franchisees are required to pay a monthly franchise fee of between R600 and R800 for 24 months.
Thereafter, the franchise fee decreases.
Vasant says MFA is in the process of implementing two more franchise models – an early-childhood development franchise and a bakery franchise – which are also only available to women.
The start-up deposit costs for the bakery franchise will come to R2 500.
The deposit required for the the early-childhood development franchise is R5 000.
The franchise models are currently only available to women entrepreneurs in the Western Cape.
Those eligible are encouraged to apply for all three franchise models.
MFA carries out induction courses for successful applicants every three months.
Nandipha Babiso and Thembisa Tenza now each own an Amazi franchise thanks to micro-franchising.