HomeEditorial CommentEntrenching entrepreneurship

Entrenching entrepreneurship

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I WANT to share with you an interesting quote I heard on a business programme on radio.

The presenter purported that if you want to be rich you can do so in three ways:
Marrying into money,

Inheriting a stake in a listed company, or

Becoming an entrepreneur.

The first two have eluded me so I reckon my best bet would be to become an entrepreneur. Look around you, all the rich people did not get wealthy working a 9am to 5pm jobs unless of course they defrauded the business.

So what is an entrepreneur? Simply put, it’s someone who sees a business opportunity and exploits it for financial gain assuming all, if not part of the risk involved. The biggest risk, of course, is the possibility that the business might actually fail as statistics indicate that 70% of businesses fail in their first year of operation.

Some entrepreneurs are innovators whose business ideas can translate into high growth scalable businesses. When we talk about innovative entrepreneurs names like Bill Gates immediately come to mind. Nonetheless having said that not everyone is entrepreneurial.

There are some people out there who want to be employed whereas there are others who want to establish their own businesses and do the hiring. This is great because we all can’t be hunting for jobs; we need entrepreneurs to create those job opportunities.

Unemployment has become a glaring problem for many shrinking economies on the African continent. This is why we need to encourage a culture of entrepreneurship.

One of the biggest hurdles constraining entrepreneurs is the ability to access funding. Some entrepreneurs are able to bootstrap the business by using personal savings, a salary (assuming they have a day job) or simply being creative with trade capital and minimising fixed overheads.

However, even then this may only take the business so far and at some point their operations will require an injection of capital in order to expand.

Securing funding, the cheaper the better, then becomes a challenge and for some an insurmountable one even for entities with a bankable business plan at face value. Money is not cheap and comes with prohibitive interest rates which may cripple a young entity.

Moreover, most entrepreneurs do not have collateral to secure a bank loan so venture capitalists and funding angels become the only saving grace.

However, wooing and courting venture capitalists can be a job in itself that sounds easier said than done. This is why I like programmes like Dragons’ Den.

This film franchise is a reality television show on which entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas to secure funding from a panel of venture capitalists.

The show originated in Japan, but has now been franchised in many countries such as Afghanistan, America, Croatia, Britain and South Africa.

Dragons’ Den South Africa premiered in September with a stellar line-up of six judges who are millionaires in their personal capacity with immense influence in the business sphere.

It was on Dragons’ Den where I had the opportunity to meet Zimbabwe-born Charmagne Mavudzi when she appeared on the fourth episode of the show canvassing for money to take her fledgling business in the beauty industry to the next level.

Mavudzi is the Founder and CEO of Mobile 360 Salon which offers hair and personal grooming services.

She was articulate and well presented and won the pockets of the Dragons and walked off with an equity injection of R350 000 for a 30% stake in her business. Essentially, 360 Mobile Salon offers you services like hairdressing, manicures, pedicures and massages from the comfort of your own home.

Time is such an important commodity and Mavudzi is essentially selling convenience which is often underestimated in the hectic times we live in.

You can book an appointment using a customised 360 Mobile Beauty. This is undoubtedly a novel idea in a world where time is money. Mobile 360 is not her first venture. She is also the operations director of Demi Goddess, a hair company.

Mavudzi has clearly recognised the opportunity to make money from women’s vanity. Her entrepreneurial acumen is grounded in a degree in business management in which she majored in marketing.

She is studying towards her master’s in business administration with the Gordon’s Institute of Business with Entrepreneurship as her major.

Beyond this, she is a motivational speaker and a militant advocate of youth empowerment.

It is clear we need more Mavudzi, but even more importantly, we need to actively invest in small to medium and micro enterprises as they are the engines of economic growth and ultimately job creation.

Investment needs not only be limited to capital, but by providing incubation and mentoring for upcoming entrepreneurs. It’s time to put our money where are our minds are.

Sue Nyathi is the author of the novel The Polygamist. You can follow her on Twitter @SueNyathi

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