For many young and aspiring entrepreneurs the road to making a success of their venture is often lonely without much-needed support and guidance. The lack of mentorship and funding usually results in many of these start-ups failing in their first year of operation.
It was this realisation that spurred Judi Sandrock, CEO and founder of Micro Enterprise Development Organisation (MEDO) to launch an organisation that would assist start-ups. Having created the Small Business Network, the micro enterprise development arm of Anglo Zimele, which assisted more than 100 entrepreneurial start-ups and created more than 1000 jobs, Judi was armed with an extremely extensive background in enterprise development and knowledge management when she launched MEDO.
With a desire to change the world we live in through the creation and more importantly the sustainable development of entrepreneurs, MEDO has taken steps to becoming a valuable resource to those in its programme by assisting with funding, training, business support and initiatives that are relevant to the aspiring businessman. Its latest initiative, sponsored by BT Global Services, was an international trade programme, which recruited 18 world-class entrepreneurs to go on a trade trip to the United Kingdom. Before they jetted off, the entrepreneurs attended a week-long boot camp at Stellenbosch University Business School (USB) where they completed a business skills training course. The Executive Development programme included topics such as leadership, building international relationships and requirements for importing and exporting.
The Micro Enterprise Development Organisation (MEDO) is providing five-star mentoring and opportunities for local entrepreneurs
At the end of the boot camp, the entrepreneurs had to pitch their ideas to BT Executives, other company CEOs and the media in a bid to demonstrate their readiness for international trade. Since the primary objective of the trip was to secure relationships and trade relations, each and every one had to confirm appointments with prospective partners before they embarked on the trip.
Armed with their new skills and confirmed meetings, the MEDO team set off on a whirlwind trip to the UK for eight days of intensive trade talks, meetings, networking and deal-signing with hungry investors.
All the preparation ensured that the trip would be successful and it exceeded all expectations. All who went on the trip returned empowered with new business knowledge, insights and the confidence that comes with knowing that their business can and will thrive. Of the 11 represented on the trip, five small businesses signed deals or formed partnerships with stakeholders in the United Kingdom (and Europe). The remaining six were able to create networks with potential partners, with a long-term view for exponential business growth.
MEDO will continue coaching the entrepreneurs through regular management skills development and further education to ensure long-term success. It is these kinds of initiatives that are sorely needed in South Africa where unemployment is so rife and entrepreneurship is the only solution to meeting the need for jobs.
Of the entrepreneurs who came back with confirmed deals were:
Veronica Aswani – Owner of WavuNow.com
WavuNow.com is a socially conscious e-commerce website aimed at bringing African crafters from rural communities to global markets. Over and above showcasing products which can be bought online, WavuNow also offers business development training to the micro businesses selling their products on the site. During the trip, Veronica secured verbal agreements with each of the three companies she met for orders.
Dean Thompson – Founder of Inferno Films
Inferno Films specialises in corporate and marketing videos, broadcast television, music videos and animation. Dean signed a deal with Jacaranda, the biggest corporate video production company in the UK to shoot local content for their clients. He now intends to go global.
Raphael Mohlala and Lucas Ledwaba – Founders of Phakama Holdings
Phakama Holdings is a service provider in the IT enterprise architecture management and governance, telecommunications, multimedia and technology supply domains. The aim of the business is to provide solutions and technologies that will add value to businesses and governments, with mechanisms that will ensure effective and efficient trading platforms. Phakama Holdings signed two deals with Alfresco and Masabi technologies, to become their representatives in SA and Africa at large.