For SMMEs in South Africa, 2021 was a year fraught with uncertainties such as Covid-19 lockdown regulations, an unstable economy and civil unrest. But despite all these obstacles, many SMMEs were resilient, and plan on taking this attitude and lessons learned into next year. Vutivi News spoke to SMMEs about their trials and tribulations, and what they did to adapt to the “new normal”.
Next Curve Creations’ co-founder Tumi Letsaba said that developing an app called Stocka without external funding, was a challenge for the business. The app, which is currently available in Mafube in Frankfort, Free State, has so far connected micro-retail, logistics and brand manufacturers with customers, and has connected residents with local establishments like Chicken Inn, Master P Detergents and clothing brand Ntjebe Since92.
“We regard this achievement as our high point because in our industry in order to deliver a high-quality product, you need a software engineer, and they don’t come cheap,” Letsaba said. “We aimed to provide this software as a service and the biggest challenge for us was that we are a start-up with limited resources.
“However, we were able to enlist the help of independent software engineers Sello Pitsi and Kyle Manganyi, and with their consultation, we were able to deliver the system,” he said. Letsaba said that next year their partnership with Black Umbrellas, which is an enterprise and supplier development incubation and partners with the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation, would help them introduce the app to a larger audience.
To read the profile of Next Curve creations here is the link https://www.vutivibusiness.co.za/home-page/township-retail-app-gets-a-boost-from-black-umbrellas/
Sneaker Kitchen’s Lutendo Tshikovhi told Vutivi News that his goal for 2021 was to get an advertisement slot on radio and to expand his client base, which he achieved. “The biggest lesson I had to learn this year was the power of marketing. I learned how to use social media and it was challenging, but the end result was that my business is now well known in my area,” he said.
“I was also able to get a radio commercial, and next year I will be opening another branch in Polokwane and looking to employ at least two people.”
Sneaker Kitchen focuses on sneaker and shoe care and is based in Thohoyandou, Limpopo and readers who want to know more about the business can click on https://www.vutivibusiness.co.za/small-business/limpopo-businessman-makes-a-pretty-penny-on-keeping-sneakers-clean/
For Snakhokonke Mahlinza, who owns Snakhomza Pest Control in Empangeni in KwaZulu-Natal, he learnt the importance of networking with other businesses in other sectors. He also grew his brand and business and Vutivi News wrote about Mahlinza’s journey at https://www.vutivibusiness.co.za/small-business/a-passion-for-success/
“I was able to expand my services to include weed control by doing a weed control course and obtaining accreditation in that regard,” he told Vutivi News. “We also received a lot of media exposure and secured a four-month contract which is ongoing,” Mahlinza said that the SMME sector faced a lot of uncertainty, which was a major challenge for his business.
“We pressed on, even though it was like skating on thin ice,” he said.
“In spite of that, business was surprisingly better than previous year, and next year I will be looking to invest in other businesses so that I can have multiple streams of income.” While SMMEs are the biggest employers in South Africa and have been earmarked by the government to contribute between 60% to 80% to GDP increase by the end of the decade, there is a number of constraints that will have to be addressed next year to boost these businesses.
They include a lack of access to funding, a shortage of skills and bureaucratic red tape.