Sekela Development Programme empowers local entrepreneurs

Sekela Development Programme, an initiative by SA Home Loans, is now in its third year of supporting entrepreneurial efforts and nurturing aspiring entrepreneurs

This year’s first masterclass programme was attended by a mix of new entrants and experienced candidates. More than 40 entrepreneurs were addressed by Nonku Ntshona, the founder of Nonku Ntshona & Associates Quantity Surveyors, at  the event in La Lucia, Durban.

“While we, through the Sekela Programme, provide the opportunity for entrepreneurs to fulfil their business ambitions, success stories such as Ntshona’s have a huge motivating impact on those who have begun this challenging journey to sustained business success,” said Zakheni Dlamini, Director of Business Development at SA Home Loans.

Ntshona related her experience of struggle and success, making it clear that being passionate, tenacious and determined was the backbone to fulfilling any ambition.

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She said her motivation was her father, who had spent most of his life employed at a materials supply company, but never lost sight of his dream to own his own construction business. While renovating houses over weekends, he finally made his dream a reality at age 50.

This ignited the spirit of entrepreneurial determination in Ntshona, who against all odds, broke into the male-dominated world of quantity surveying, initially working from a Wendy house in her backyard and often struggling to pay wages. Refusing to quit paid off and today, at age 41, she runs a national firm headquartered in Johannesburg with a list of blue-chip clients.

The Sekela Development Programme is facilitated by experienced business development practitioners and is aimed at providing sustainable business support to start-up owner-involved businesses that have been in operation for no longer than three years and that have shown potential for accelerated growth.

“’Sekela’ is the Zulu word for support,” added Dlamini, “and we are committed to supporting and nurturing aspiring entrepreneurs to achieve their business goals in a sustainable way. The programme aims to offer a perfect balance of theory and hands-on mentorship.”

He said 18 entrepreneurs were selected for the 2018 programme after going through an intense selection process requiring shortlisted businesses to attend a workshop sponsored by SA Home Loans and then deliver presentations to a selection panel.

The programme gives participants key skills in administration, compliance, finance, sales and marketing. With the ongoing support of mentors, the aim is to improve turnover and profitability and create more employment opportunities.

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Dlamini said that he has been blown away by the growth of the Sevela entrepreneurs, who range from bakers and builders to IT specialists and manufacturers.

“Our main aim is to create a platform for entrepreneurs to build sustainable businesses that become active participants in the economy. Together with the assistance of our partners Business Fit, Raizcorp and Innate Solutions, we know that while we have positively impacted the lives of over 50 entrepreneurs directly. We are equally excited that the multiplier effect on employees, their families and customers is changing lives for the better,” concluded Dlamini.