By: Tebogo Mokwena
Gcina Madonsela has had plenty of experience in dealing with the difficulties of starting a business. So, her decision to start Small Business Runway, which is a business development agency, was a no-brainer. According to Madonsela, when she first tried to open a business in 2013, she spent nearly R15,000 on consultation fees. “Every single step was expensive, from building a business profile to getting a consultant, and I felt that I wasn’t doing anything more than just spending money,” she told Vutivi News.
“I realised that there has to be an agency where small business entrepreneurs can sort out their basics, including accounting, finances, marketing and compliance.” Madonsela registered Small Business Runway in 2019 and started trading officially in 2020. The company is based in Boksburg, but it works with small businesses from around the country and provides them with lower-priced business consultations. With her team of three permanent employees, Madonsela said her agency also hosted small business expos four times a year. It had so far successfully held eight expos across the country.
She said that these expos targeted underserved and underprivileged communities using a three-pillar approach that included education, interaction and transaction. “Our expos are full-day events with speakers from various industries that discuss various topics that have to do with the theme of the expo,” she told Vutivi News. “We also have an exhibition where the entrepreneurs book a stall and display and sell their products and services, and during these events, we also encourage and foster transactions between businesses that trade in the same value chain.
“We encourage the entrepreneurs to buy from each other, and on many occasions, we have assisted different businesses in clinching life-changing contracts.” According to Madonsela, despite the contribution the agency was making in townships, some business owners were still skeptical about her services and her abilities. “I found it difficult to convince people when I started out because they didn’t know me or what I could do, and they held my services in skepticism,” she said.
“However, I worked hard to establish myself in the sector, and I love the testimonies I get from the business I help. “I am also constantly learning about how different sectors work and what happens in different industries, and the learning factor is very crucial to me,” the businesswoman said. Madonsela envisions her company is one of the most sought-after business development agencies on the continent. “In the next seven years I am going to be positioned as the go-to agency in Africa for those that want to develop their businesses,” she said.