This month we discuss youth entrepreneurship; we feature Rikesh Parthab and Duncan Paul in our success stories; and discuss the value of building your own support network.
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June 2013   |   Volume 5.6

Youth entrepreneurship must be celebrated, but be careful

As South Africa celebrates its youth month, the regular calls on young people to start their own businesses will reach its annual peak. Rather than join the chorus, Business Partners strikes a more cautionary note. “It’s good to link the two (youth and entrepreneurship),” says Nazeem Martin, Business Partners CEO. “But we have to be careful.”

Business Partners’ lending patterns clearly reflect this circumspection. Only 8% of the small-business financier’s loan book is lent to entrepreneurs younger than 35 (26% to those aged from 36 to 45, 35% to those between 46 and 55, and no less than 31% to business owners older than 55).

What is going on here? Has South Africa’s leading risk financier gone soft? Has Business Partners become an old fogey itself?

Success story:
A testimony to the power of planning

Work with a business plan, is a constant refrain young entrepreneurs hear before and after they start their businesses, but the advice is seldom taken seriously. The majority of business owners only ever get a business plan together for finance applications. As soon as the finance is won, the plan is stuffed into the bottom drawer and the business owner carries on as usual, staggering from crisis to crisis.

Not Rikesh Parthab, the award-winning owner of two of South Africa’s top Shell service stations, whose steady climb from a 16-year-old petrol pump attendant to the owner of a multi-million rand garage owner is testimony to the power of planning.

Success story:
Business lessons from a seasoned guide

Duncan Paul could not hope for a better job to prepare him for entrepreneurship. As a professional hunter and safari operator, he spent many evenings around camp fires with some very successful people. It was always the perfect contemplative moment to ask them about the secrets of their success. He did, and they loved talking about it.

It was such a conversation with one of his clients, Remax founder and president Dave Liniger that was the final spur to get him to leave his job at the then Bophuthatswana Parks Board and venture out as an entrepreneur. Dave told him that his recipe for success was “setting goals and sticking to those goals”.

Build your own support network

The business support landscape in South Africa for young entrepreneurs is like the business world itself: it is teeming with opportunities, but you will have to seek them out yourself and build your own support network. Nobody is going to hand it to you on a silver platter.

For decades, various spheres of government, corporates and development organisations have been setting up “one-stop shops”, “help desks” and “local business service centres” – places where an entrepreneur can get affordable help with anything ranging from compiling business plans to finding finance and setting up administration systems.

The idea is good, says Byron Jeacocks, regional general manager for Business Partners, but so far none of these projects has managed to sustain and grow a consistently good service. He points, for example, to parts of the Umsobomvu Youth Fund which had been successful in helping a number of young entrepreneurs set up in franchising, but it ended when the fund was collapsed into the National Youth Development Agency.

Business premises for rent

Buffalo Thorn Business Park

Van Belkum Street
Industrial units to let
Contact Johan Lubbe
011 713 6688

George Business Park

Off Albert Street
Industrial units to let
Contact Colin Victor
083 287 4226

Browse our current business premises for rent
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SME Toolkit SA
The SME toolkit South Africa is a joint venture between Business Partners Limited, IBM and IFC. The website offers easy access to information, resources and online training relevant to small, micro and medium enterprises (SMMEs) across various industries and business sectors.

What can be found on the SME toolkit South Africa website? How-to articles, business forms, financial tools, online training, business planning, human resources, marketing, the list is endless and so are the possibilities. All the information on the website has been compiled by leading experts in the SME industry! The SME toolkit South Africa also facilitates face- to- face training workshops all over the country to access a wider network of entrepreneurs.

Visit the website today:
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