BUSINESS/PARTNERS has partnered with the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) to launch a Technical Assistance Programme for clients.
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Mentor brings tools, experience and empathy

When Roy Lailvaux started mentoring Bajith and Joshna Panday he immediately recognised the enormous stress they were under.

The couple, who are in their fifties, had put nearly everything they had into a new Col’cacchio franchise branch in the Eastgate Shopping Centre in Bedfordview, Johannesburg. Through no fault of their own, the start-up costs of their dream restaurant had overshot their budget by more than a million rand, and they found themselves in deep trouble.

Roy’s familiarity with the situation stemmed from the fact that he had been in a similar situation more than once in the last two decades - a huge amount invested in a new restaurant, but all his plans and projections thrown out of whack by unforeseen circumstances.

Fortunately, Roy has developed the tools to dig a business out of such a hole, and that is why he was asked by Business Partners Limited (BUSINESS/PARTNERS) to mentor the Pandays couple and help guide them out of the rough.


Nine tips for boosting your business with the right mentor

Growing a business is such a wide-ranging undertaking that no single entrepreneur can possibly be good at all aspects of it. Your weaknesses and blind spots will always manifest in the business you build, and entrepreneurship can become a very fraught and lonely experience if there is no-one to advise, counsel and guide you to overcome them.  

That is why even the most talented entrepreneurs seek out mentors, says Petro Bothma, head of enterprise development and non-financial support at Business Partners Limited (BUSINESS/PARTNERS). But effective mentorship is more than getting a bit of friendly advice over coffee. It takes thought and effort to find the right mentor for your business and to cultivate the relationship.

Bothma compiled the following nine tips for making mentorship work for you:

1. Look for experience

Consultants can be hired based on qualifications alone as long as they know how to perform the short-term fix that you require. But a mentor is more than a consultant. Where consultancy is a short-term intervention, mentorship implies a longer period of involvement. A consultant fixes a specific problem. A mentor looks at the business as a whole, and measures success in the broader overall strength and growth of the company and entrepreneur. A consultant aims to impart a specific set of knowledge. A mentor seeks to transfer knowledge and wisdom - the kind of judgement that can only come from experience.

October 2017 / Vol.8.10


New Technical Assistance Programme for clients launched

In recognition of the unique challenges facing SMEs, BUSINESS/PARTNERS, together with the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), have introduced a Technical Assistance Programme, specifically for BUSINESS/PARTNERS clients, offering funding for such assistance at a zero interest rate.


Crisis action a true mark of entrepreneurial drive

The ultimate proof of Bajith and Joshna Panday’s entrepreneurial drive is not their track record of starting at least three food businesses and an education and training business, or even that the husband-and-wife team were the first of their respective families to ever venture into business.

It was their reaction to one of the worst possible start-up experiences with the launch of their latest venture, the Col’cacchio restaurant in East Gate Mall in Bedfordview, Johannesburg. The couple refused to give up, swung into overdrive, negotiated breathing space with the landlord, their financiers and their franchisor, took on board a mentor and implemented a rescue strategy. Today they are closer to running their dream restaurant than they’ve ever been.

All the indications were that the Col’cacchio at the East Gate Mall could hardly fail. They had secured a prime position at one of the entrances, the franchisor’s market intelligence showed likely turnover figures way beyond breakeven, and their financiers, Business Partners Limited (BUSINESS/PARTNERS) and the Jobs Fund through the SA Franchising Warehouse, had also given them the green light.


Beautician takes on building industry

The first order of roof tiles that Jane Kaburu imported into Kenya was too small to justify renting a truck, so it came in on top of a bus from Tanzania. Little did she know then that in a few years’ time she would be shipping container loads of roofing material from China.

Even more remarkable about the start of her roofing supply business is that she didn’t know anything about the construction industry when she landed that first order in the early 2000s. As a trained beautician, she didn’t even know what the “pitch” of a roof was, she laughs. Not only that, but the stone coated steel roof tiles that she was trying to get onto the market were totally unknown in Kenya. Up until that time, the dominant roofing material was ordinary clay tiles.

What Jane clearly did know was how to sell, how to learn all about a new industry fast, and how persistence eventually leads to success. “I do not give up easily,” says Jane when she describes her main entrepreneurial trait.

Jane probably got some of her entrepreneurial spirit from her father who was a businessman in the trucking and retail sector in Kenya’s Central Province, where she grew up...

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