FLAME – a micro enterprise programme – empowers small business owners to bounce back from the impact of the pandemic

Nolitha King Williams Town

In 2019, The Hope Factory partnered with the ASISA Foundation, a non-profit organisation founded by the Association for Savings and Investment South Africa (ASISA). Together they implemented the Financial Literacy and Micro Enterprise Programme (FLAME 2.0) in King Williams Town (KWT). 2.0

FLAME 2.0

The FLAME programme empowers beneficiaries from previously disadvantaged communities with basic entrepreneurship and financial literacy skills to foster financial capability and enable greater economic activity.

The programme has three phases, the first of which concluded in November 2019 with 44 participants. Phase two began in November 2019 and is scheduled to end in March 2021. The third and final phase will focus on supporting the entrepreneurs in KWT by offering regular business support and coaching to continue to grow and sustain their business through the on-going pandemic.

Most face-to-face programmes had to adapt to virtual methods last year due to Covid-19. Despite the new challenges, the FLAME team and the coaches played an essential role by checking up on the participants each week. This was very effective in terms of giving the entrepreneurs hope and lifting their spirits.

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#Bounceback

The #Bounceback campaign was a key marketing intervention in 2020 aimed at capturing the essence of human spirit found in the FLAME entrepreneurs. The campaign’s goal was to amplify the stories of tenacity and recovery of the small businesses through the pandemic and lockdown period.

“The #Bounceback campaign proved that the participants stayed committed to the programme even though their businesses were badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic,” says Bernadette Koert, Socio-Economic Development Programme Manager at The Hope Factory.

She adds that one of the great take-aways for participants was the importance of learning how to pivot their businesses in order to survive in the market and to now focus on different income streams.

Chicken farmer, Nolitha’s #Bounceback story

Meet Nolitha Nyikana Linti Nyiks, owner and founder of the Funky Farmer. Nolitha is a chicken farmer and before lockdown she had 100 broiler chickens in a six-week cycle. Every third week she would add 100 chickens.

However, when interprovincial travel was prohibited during the early stages of lockdown, she struggled to get broiler chickens and her business started struggling. Nevertheless, she persevered through the hard times and continued to show resilience with the support and guidance of the FLAME team.

Thanks to the training and mentoring she received, Nolitha is now able to put 200 broiler chickens out per week. She also applied to the Department of Rural Development’s Covid-19 Relief Fund and was awarded vouchers to the value of R50 000. “I was able to purchase vaccines, broiler chicken feed, medication, and sawdust. I’m now able to produce 600 chickens a month!”

Despite the challenges faced during virtual training, the FLAME beneficiaries in KWT continued to show resilience and are still part of the programme. FLAME was amongst the few in South Africa that survived the pandemic by adapting to online training and coaching.

The programme offered continued support to the SMMEs with the following initiatives:

  • Additional revision workshops of key financial literacy components
  • Checkers vouchers as an incentive for endurance
  • Monthly coaching support and continued training of key business principles
  • Business strategies and business model canvas completion

These support initiatives have resulted in the following impact in the King Williams Town programme:

  • 87% of participants are still trading
  • 33% of participants pivoted and introduced a new business focus
  • 2 participants successfully received government funding

“The positive results of FLAME not only confirm the relevance of our programme, but will influence the ASISA Foundation’s strategy and approach going forward,” said Ruth Benjamin-Swales, ASISA Foundation CEO.

“Beneficiaries confirmed that the ASISA Foundation programmes have helped them during lockdown – both financially and psychologically – to be more resilient, to cope better, to be more strategic about managing their affairs, and to be more hopeful and confident about the future.”

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