By: Tebogo Mokwena
One of the winners of the Inaugural Presidential SMME Awards, Gugu Nonjinge, says that the winnings will help her and partner implement much-needed changes to their business. Nonjinge told Vutivi News they would also use the money to address some of the challenges that have prevented them from reaching the growth potential they envisioned.
Nonjinge is the co-owner of Asana Beauty, an upmarket dreadlocks and natural hair salon in Woodstock, Cape Town. The salon was awarded the Youth-led SMME of the Year Award and walked away with R100,000 in cash. Nonjinge said that they did not expect to win the award, which was their first accolade. “We didn’t think that we would win as we were shortlisted with tech companies, and we know that a lot of people are drawn to tech startups, so it was quite a surprise when we were announced,” she said.
Nonjinge said that winning the award was exciting as the prize money would assist them in many ways. The business was opened in 2021 by Nonjinge and Nomahlubi Hewu. She explained that they were motivated by the desire to create a safe space for women where they could talk freely about their hair and their everyday struggles. They have four employees.
The business is still new and has to overcome many hurdles. “The biggest challenge has been load-shedding,” Nonjinge told Vutivi News. “That impacts our business because if we have no power we do not provide our services, and we haven’t found a way to address this issue as we cannot afford a generator. “We also have an issue with space. The salon is getting a lot of clients and as a result, we find that we do not have enough equipment, and the equipment that we do have is breaking and it needs to be replaced,” she said.
Nonjinge said that salon also wanted to upskill its employees, but had been struggling to do so due to a lack of funding. “Whenever we hear of workshops in Cape Town, we do send our employees,” she said. According to Nonjinge, the availability of funds and reducing the regulatory burden on businesses, would help companies like hers upscale in the long run. “It’s very difficult to get funding from the government and private institutions, and the prize money SMMEs get from awards like this assist them in closing that funding gap,” she said.