Entrepreneurs launch their Bizniz in a Box ventures in Mdantsane

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EAST LONDON – A number of small business owners in Mdantsane in the Eastern Cape are ready to take their ventures to the next level after they were selected to be part of the Bizniz in a Box initiative which seeks to empower township and rural entrepreneurs as part of building a more inclusive economy.

The Mdantsane project will see a total of 25 entrepreneurs in and around the Mdantsane taxi rank take ownership of their containers which have been fully customised and fitted out with kitchens to provide fast food options to commuters and the local community.

To date, 20 small business owners have received support from the BiB programme, including:

  • 5 received mobile kitchens
  • 1 received equipment
  • 1 received a renovation of an existing container
  • 13 received containers
  • 5 containers are still to be delivered

The business owners also receive CCBSA provided tables, coolers and start-up stock, as well as dust coats, aprons and Covid-19 PPE.

The Bizniz in a Box (BiB) project is the brainchild of Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA) which saw it as the ideal platform to support emerging and small businesses, particularly those run by young people and women.

Bizniz in a Box envisages an ecosystem of viable micro-businesses offering complementary products and services in township communities, alongside the local spaza shop. Each business operates out of a custom-designed container, and covers a range of services, from business centres providing internet access, car washes, fast-food shops or mini bakeries.

The Mdantsane project will eventually see 24 Bizniz in a Box containers offering a variety of fast food to the transit community in and around the taxi rank.

CCBSA led a clean-up of the area alongside the Buffalo city municipality solid waste department before placing the BiBs in their location.

The fully fitted containerised kitchens is a new addition to the Bizniz in a Box programme and it is set to be rolled out to other sites around the country.

Sakhumzi Ncapayi, the CCBSA District Manager, said: “We understand how critical the SMME sector is to our economic revival following the Covid-19 pandemic, and the important role small businesses will play in the future growth of South Africa and Africa.

“This is why we are continuing to invest into the Bizniz in a Box initiative to help create employment and stimulate economic growth, particularly among the youth and women.”

Several of the beneficiaries are youth and Ncapayi said that falling within Youth Month, the hope was that the project in Mdantsane will be the catalyst to help transform young lives and the socio-economic landscape in this area.

The BiB programme further offers young entrepreneurs the opportunity to learn business skills to enable them to grow and run their own small and medium-sized businesses.

Bizniz in a Box was first piloted in 2015 in the Free State. By the end of 2020, through Bizniz in a Box, CCBSA and its partners had trained 749 young entrepreneurs and helped 224 of them to take their businesses to the next level, creating 185 additional jobs by employing shop assistants.

 “It is also our hope, that with the support and skills training that we provide, that these business owners will grow into running far larger enterprises in the future, creating further jobs and growth opportunities,” Ncapayi added.

Beneficiary Siyamthanda Soxuza, 26, said of her fast foods take-away business: “It has been five years now, at first it was my mom, then I took over from her. This (Bizniz in a Box) means so much to me because before I was working in a small container. I bought stock every day and ended with minimal profit. With this initiative, everything is convenient and I can see the growth in my business.”

She hopes to grow her business into one day having an established restaurant in a hotel or shopping centre and hopes to one day be in a position to create employment opportunities for young people.

Soxuza added that she was looking forward to the skills development and business support, adding: “It will benefit me because I’ll have sufficient skills to run my business such as customer service, and adequate finance and administration skills to help me manage my business better.”

Fellow BiB beneficiary, 35-year-old Anda Mabamba said: “I have had my fast food business for four years already but this initiative will now guarantee food on the table so that I can support my family properly.”

He described the BiB initiative as truly empowering and said the additional business skills support he has received has “helped me in running my business more efficiently”.

Buffalo City Metro Spokesperson Samkelo Ngwenya said: “We are delighted that the Bizniz in a Box programme has reached Mdantsane and we believe that through this empowerment initiative to support small businesses, it will lead to the transformation of not only this area, but the lives of our people.

“It gives young business owners the necessary support and platform, and importantly the belief, that they can go on to grow and excel as businesses leaders and so positively impact society.”

CCBSA partners with provincial governments, local municipalities, as well as development finance institutions such as the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA) and mainstream banks like Standard Bank to help ensure the sustainability of the initiative.

Bizniz in a Box is designed to help build and grow township and rural economies by developing black youth-owned businesses that are responsive to the needs of their communities. It also aims to help reduce youth unemployment which is sitting at over 65%, and associated poverty and inequality.

The project commences with a recruitment drive at selected townships or villages, where town hall information sessions are held to register interested youth and other aspiring entrepreneurs. The assessment and selection of candidates incorporates a “Do-Teach” model in which candidates are assessed and given clarity on the rigorous nature of being a successful entrepreneur.

Successful candidates are required to agree to a repayment of a predetermined amount for the set-up costs, after which ownership of a container spaza shop is transferred to successful candidates. The BiB programme is evaluated annually and feedback incorporated into the future roll-out of the programme.

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