Impact SA

Thriving Township spaza owner shares entrepreneurial journey during the pandemic.

Mr NhlanhlaMain Image

-Written by Neelam Diah

“Resilience is all about being able to overcome the unexpected. Sustainability is about survival. The goal of resilience is to thrive”-Jamais Cascio.

In a recent interview with BM Services – Ithembalakho, owner Mr. Nhlanhla Phiri shares his entrepreneurial journey with us. He shared how he learnt to thrive through these uncertain times of COVID-19 through the help of his community as well as how he helped create additional jobs and building various relationships within his community.

BM Services-Ithembalakho is a 100% Youth Black owned company. Nhlanhla, is a current SMME on the Khulisa iBiznis Programme funded by J.P. Morgan. Together with 141 other Youth owned SMMEs from Soweto, Kathorous and Katlehong, these SMMEs are put through a 12-month business resilience programme.

The resilience programme comprises of three core components including; Back Office compliance, Accounting and payroll support, a 1-2 hour targeted one–on–one Finance Coaching with a qualified Chartered Accountant which looks at revenue retention, employee retention and other business strategies as well as Finance workshops which aims to impart basic financial knowledge to SMMEs on various topics. The Khulisa iBiznis Programme aims to help these SMME’s to be robust and innovative during this uncertain time and create a business resilience model for their business to be operational post this pandemic with the aid of a qualified CA allocated to each SMME on the programme.

BM Services-Ithembalakho is a modernized operation of the traditional known spaza shops or as they like to call it the ‘Uber in the retail services’, which is for the people and by the people that sell everything namely, canned foods, non-perishable, perishable food items, cosmetics, etc. Due to the demand and request from customers, they have also introduced hand sanitizers, face shields & masks. They currently also provide the service of lotto tickets and purchasing bus tickets which is a major convenience for township dwellers. Nhlanhla plans to have a national franchise that would make it easy for everyone to access his services.

Mr. Phiri says “With the outbreak of the pandemic, March 2020 was not what we planned it would be and will be forever marked as the time where we had to face the storm that was never planned.” Being fully committed to his vision he was left with no choice but to adapt through these times. He further says, “After making sure that our operations are complying, we had to think of ways of serving our community and also bring profit into our business.”

Many SMME’S in the townships are incurring major losses or are currently being shut down, as they are unable to keep their businesses afloat. However, this was not the case for Nhlanhla as he managed to thrive through the challenges. “Business is very simple, you have to adapt to survive, and in order to pass the difficult times you need to be flexible in every approach to the demand and the given circumstances”, says Nhlanhla. The rough estimates of his profit increase is approximately 23% over the last 4 months which is remarkable as businesses are closing every day.

We asked Nhlanhla to share a little on his experience being on the Khulisa iBiznis Programme. “This programme has taught me about tax and its importance”, says Nhlanhla. He further adds that since being on the programme he has been able to understand his business better through the finance coach he has been allocated.

Furthermore, BM Services opened a second branch creating three permanent jobs and two temporary jobs in the last few months. They have also been able to form new business relationships, as they now understand their business thoroughly.

In closing Nhlanhla shares a few words to fellow SMME’s “My advice to any entrepreneur is to invest in your business, spend time in your business, research on industry and always be flexible and creative in your approach, if you are an entrepreneur and you believe in your dreams do not let anybody tell you what to do. Work on your dream and it will become reality”.

Media contact: Kelly Sin Hidge

Marketing and comms at The Hope Factory


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