Two Bay entrepreneurs in KickStart finals
Employment and empowerment key drivers for successful duo aiming to make national competition’s last cut
Creating employment opportunities and empowering future entrepreneurs are key priorities for two Bay finalists in this year’s SA Breweries (SAB) KickStart Boost.
Port Elizabeth-based entrepreneurs Violet Lupuwana, 33, and Ebenezer Smith, 34, are two of the 21 finalists who were selected from a group of 50 shortlisted young hopefuls from across the country.
SAB KickStart, one of the longest-running and most successful youth development programmes, is aimed at creating meaningful jobs in SA by growing sustainable youth-owned businesses.
Lesotho-born Lupuwana established Chumile Transport Services – a division of Chumile Holdings – in 2012.
But the organisation initially started as a training and consulting company.
With a background in industrial engineering, Lupuwana said she was constantly looking for ways to grow and diversify her business while understanding operational constraints.
“My business took the direction of enterprise development when I saw a need to bridge the gap between SMMEs which need funding and big corporates looking for projects to invest in, for socio-economic development,” she said.
“And that’s also where we started doing mentoring for entrepreneurs on how to find funding, how to strategise and how to be BEE-compliant.
“As Chumile Holdings director, my vision is to be the enabler for individuals and organisations to transform from good to great.
“My calling in life is to be a value-adding citizen through training and development, through mentorship and through transport.”
Lupuwana said she planned to employ more than 50 people by the end of 2018.
She now employs 36 people – 16 permanently and 20 on a part-time basis.
“To be an entrepreneur and to work in my business you need four things – a tough mindset, you need to be able to organise, you need to be able to operate, and you need to be able to take risks,” she said.
Smith – born in Ghana and raised in Mthatha after his family moved to the Eastern Cape in 1990 – co-established Profecia IT, a software development and telecommunications business, based in Central, Port Elizabeth, in 2012.
When Profecia IT was launched, the company focused on doing basic logo designs, branding, website design and corporate imaging-related work, Smith said.
Now, it is geared towards mobile app development.
“We are big on apps, and we know that apps are the future.
“Because of my architectural background we are pedantic about aesthetic and functionality. I’m not a software developer – my contribution is the creativity, the ergonomics and the aesthetics,” Smith said.
“We build apps natively for Android and iOS.
“Tech drives everything – every company out there has to innovate. But a huge challenge in the Bay is that people don’t always see what tech can do for them.”
Both finalists said their main challenge was access to markets. But the SAB KickStart programme is opening up the necessary doors to expand their networks.
“Instead of offering training, mentorship and giving the top finalist a sum of money, the SAB KickStart programme’s approach now focuses on getting the entrepreneurs marketready,” Lupuwana said.
Smith said: “Being a company that offers innovative products and solutions, we struggle to get access to the big guys.
“So with KickStart, SAB not only plugs you into their own supply chain, they link you to other big corporates and they open up doors for you.”
The top entrepreneurs will be selected based on a number of criteria – those that execute their business strategies most effectively; financial and market growth; and job creation.
The winners will be announced during an award ceremony in November.
“As SAB KickStart is a national programme for young business owners, we are honoured that we have PE finalists representing the Eastern Cape this year,” SAB and AB InBev Africa enterprise development manager Phumzile Chifunyise said.
“We believe in the power of youth as key drivers of our country’s economy.”