The Centre for Small Business Development in the Faculty of Management, University of Johannesburg (UJ), initiated the Pfunanani Entrepreneurship Development Project (PED) in Mpumalanga. The project is a rural entrepreneurship development programme aimed at developing rural based entrepreneurs to increase their meaningful participation in the local economy and thereby improving their livelihood. Moipone Molotsi, Director: Centre for Small Business Development and Adelaide Sheik, Acting Manager: Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and Social Economy are very proud of the influence and change this project has made in many lives.

The project supports entrepreneurs, from 11 villages nearby the 34 Lodges in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve, with business and technical skills training, work placement, mentorship and coaching as well as the facilitation of access to business opportunities and funding. The project focusses on 120 beneficiaries, 60 SMMEs as well as 120 permanent and 240 temporary jobs. The project was made possible through the generous main sponsor, The Jobs Fund who contributed 75% of the budget and other partners, Sabi Sands Game Reserve, Sabi Sands Pfunanani Trust, Buffelshoek Trust, who contributed the balance of 25% of the budget as match funding.

The project to date culminated in the support and development of a wide range of small businesses namely; vegetable farming (8 SMMEs), fish farming (1 SMME), chicken farming (2 SMMMEs), transport and tours (2 SMMEs), construction (8 SMMEs), welding and steelworks (3 SMMEs), waste management and recycling (1 SMME), corporate gifts and promotions (1 SMME), sewing and embroidery (3 SMMEs), clothing, arts and crafts (1 SMME), sewing and upholstery (1 SMME), fencing and maintenance (1 SMME), video and cinematography (1 SMME), technical and accommodation (1 SMME), bush clearing and landscaping (5 SMMEs), entertainment and catering (8 SMMEs), food and beverage (10 SMMEs), manufacturing (3 SMMEs), printing and copying (2 SMMEs), skilled trade (6 SMMEs) and training and skills development (3 SMMEs).Market linkages were established and some of these new relationships include:

  • Twenty two SMMEs formed business relationships with lodges in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve, and some of these are regular engagements.
  • Six farmers received a contract to supply colored peppers to the value of R 1.4 million each per annum.
  • Matshopi Transport and Tours secured a contract amounting to R 2 million over the next 5 years, to transport employees from the lodges.
  • Three supply contracts and several letters of intent have been signed in respect of Hlulani Farm supplying bulk egg delivery to the total of 80 000 plus eggs per month. The total contract value amounts to R 1.4 million per annum.
  • Thousand Herbs, Xikupe and Hlulani farms are constant suppliers of fresh produce to Sabi Sand.
  • S J Glass Fit and Njomane Air Conditioning and Refrigeration and Youth in Action group are regular service providers of Sabi Sand.
  • Madilika Arts and Craft also regularly supplies craft to Sabi Sand being located strategically along the route to Newington.
  • The bush clearing businesses are employed by Sabi Sand Wildtuin, on a needs basis, to clear the fence along the villages bordering the reserve.
  • Lion Sands awarded a construction contract to one business.

Part of the training was to upskill the entrepreneurs to market their services and produce more efficiently. Each small business received a Tablet and was connected to Facebook to assist them in reaching a wide audience of possible clients and customers.

A project website was created and 61 businesses have already been activated. Ten businesses still work offline until they reach the ability and capacity to serve the lodge market properly. The businesses have access to a business directory and six of the new businesses were introduced to the People First Tourism website, a Tourism Marketing Agent at the University of Northern Carolina, USA.

“Whilst working on this project we have learnt very valuable lessons”, says Moipone. The development, submissions and implementation of the business plans etc. are very time consuming and requires a full-time project management office and team to support the new and upcoming businesses. Two years is not adequate to get such an initiative off the ground and sustainable. A project of this scale requires a minimum of four years’ mentoring, coaching, supervision and support. According to Moipone “travel distances, cost of accommodation, infrastructure, facilities and resources to do training in the rural areas are testing and one has to make the best of whatever is available” (see photograph for the best caterer in town that delivered food and water during one of the training sessions).She further states that “the active involvement of the community leaders and chiefs are crucial or you will not succeed. If they are not acknowledged, included and involved they may sabotage the project”. “But, all in all, being involved in an inspiring project like this is absolutely worth every hurdle and interesting and exciting challenge if you receive feedback as seen below”, says Moipone.

“I receive orders for vegetables through my Tablet. I could be in Hluvukani, then I will get and email with an order. I am able to phone my team and tell them to prepare the order. So the customer gets their vegetables even when I am not at the garden” Annicky Mgiba, 1000 Herbs Garden and Vegetables in Utah.
“I placed my order for vegetables whilst in East London. When I arrived here, I picked up my order of edible flowers and spinach, which I am cooking now” Alice Barlow Zambodla, BT.
“Before, I used to use the business income as the need arose. My mentor has given us templates to use to record all the information about what is taking place in my business. I am wiser, now” Siphiwe Malisa of Malisa Repairs and Workshop in Huntington village.
Rural Entrepreneurship
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