Nedbank and the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship have banded together to support promising entrepreneurs through funding, networking opportunities and mentorship support to help them build lucrative and sustainable businesses.
Joe Bayliss, chief executive officer (CEO) at the Virgin Group, said, “Training and development is at the heart of our offering and more importantly, we encourage aspirant entrepreneurs to engage with a community of mentors, role models, industry experts and business networks including investors with both national and international links.”
Describing the programmes on offer, he said they “cover a range of key elements in the running of a successful business, including budgeting, financial management, business expansion, sales and marketing, risk management, HR [human resources] and capacity issues.”
The partnership was announced on Monday 10 March at the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship in Braamfontein; Nedbank handed over a cheque for
R1-million to fund the 50 entrepreneurs participating in the 2014 programme.
“It’s a great pleasure to be formally acknowledging our partnership with Nedbank,” said Jane Rankin, interim CEO at the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship.
“Considering Nedbank’s ethos around entrepreneurship, we feel very privileged to be partnering with a bank that shares a similar philosophy to our own.”
Nedbank’s role in the partnership is in line with the corporate’s efforts to support small and medium enterprises through investing in entrepreneurs’ training and development.
Nedbank also offers an array of products- such as insurance, financial planning and franchising packages – tailored for small, medium and micro businesses.
The partnership will provide support to budding entrepreneurs through mentorship, and access to Nedbank’s financial expertise and small business products.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for our entrepreneurs going through the centre,” said Rankin.
She added, “Nedbank will be exposing the entrepreneurs to the various funding opportunities, to training opportunities and a number of Nedbank staff will be assisting us with mentoring as well.”
THE ENTREPRENEUR’S ROLE IN SOUTH AFRICA
According to Stats SA, unemployment stood at just over 24% in the fourth quarter of the 2013 financial year. But small and medium enterprises employ some 65% of South Africans; supporting their success is central to reducing unemployment levels in the country.
“I think it’s very important to create that awareness, in the current economy where unemployment figures are going higher and higher, for the youth to understand that there are alternatives,” said Nirmala Reddy, senior manager for enterprise development at Nedbank.
“With the likes of the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship, with the corporate support you really can change your life and that of the community in which you operate and that spreads out to the broader community.”
Dylan Jonsson, an entrepreneur participating in the programme, owns the
catering company, A Thyme to Dine. He said, “The Branson Centre has helped me tremendously; many opportunities and doors have opened for me and their support has helped me pursue my passion.
“I got to cater for Richard Branson when he was out here and also for the Virgin Galactic launch. We’re planning on exporting products to China and the UK and that’s also due to the Branson Centre and partners like Nedbank.”
Another participant, Sibusiso Ngwenya, created Skinny Sbu Socks, which has grown significantly with the centre’s help since it was established in April 2013.
He said, “Nedbank and the Branson Centre have not only offered us financial opportunities but they have also offered us support as a business person because the entrepreneurial journey can be lonely at times.”
He added, “We entered this whole industry from passion and we didn’t know anything about entrepreneurship. Now they’re teaching us the basics about business and how to grow our business, so it has really fast-tracked our journey as Skinny Sbu Socks.
“We’ve seen that Nedbank is supporting small and medium enterprises; today we’ve actually witnessed that, with them giving away a cheque for R1-million to assist us in getting the basics as entrepreneurs.”