News & views

What the business world can learn from female entrepreneurs

It is widely agreed that women's style of doing business tends to differ from that of men, even though the distinctions are never clear-cut. But there is enough of a difference to suggest that the rise of female entrepreneurs is slowly changing the culture of the business world. Is it a change for the better, and can all business owners, male and female, embrace this change and benefit from it? Yes to all of the above, says Gugu Mjadu, executive...
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Gender parity within reach as numbers of women entrepreneurs keep rising

If lending figures from Business Partners, South Africa's leading finance house for small and medium enterprises, are anything to go by, genuine gender parity seems to be within reach in the local community of owner-managed businesses in the foreseeable future. Jeremy Lang, Regional General Manager: Inland West of Business Partners, is quick to point out that in order to reach this parity South Africa still needs more female entrepreneurial role...
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Signs of stability, steady growth in franchising sector

Nothing can seem to get the franchising industry down in South Africa – certainly not the sluggish economic growth of the last few years, says Christo Botes, executive director of Business Partners. Now standing at 11% of GDP, it has become a well regulated sector that cannot be ignored. Botes quotes statistics that show signs of stability in its very core. No fewer than 46% of all franchisors in South Africa are older than 12 years and a whopp...
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SME-friendly Budget will boost job creation, economic growth

Most small and medium business owners know what it's like to put together a budget under difficult circumstances. Many will therefore be sparing a thought for finance minister Pravin Gordhan, who on 26 February will be announcing the national Budget in the face of a yawning deficit, a falling rand, menacing inflation and sluggish growth. However, the answer to much of these woes lies in the extent to which the minister spares a thought for small ...
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Clear signs of a dawn after five years of gloom

For an owner-manager hunkered down in survival mode on his shop floor after five harrowing years of economic gloom, the signs of a turnaround may not be all that apparent, but Nazeem Martin, CEO of the leading small-business finance house Business Partners, says the evidence is compelling. The US economy is expected to grow at 2.5%, a sturdy rate for the biggest economy of the world; Europe's expected growth of 1% is a decent swing around from a ...
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Planning is the only antidote to painful reality of seasonal swings

Seasonality in business is never as pronounced as it is over the festive season, when large swathes of the economy shut down and others light up. Holiday establishments along the coast run on all cylinders while their Gauteng bed-and-breakfast cousins twiddle their thumbs waiting for business travellers to return in the new year. The entire building industry has an official holiday. Many factories shut down, while industrial maintenance companies...
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The best entrepreneurs constantly seek out mentors to guide them

The perception that business mentors are of use only to struggling, beginner businesses could not be further from the truth. Christo Botes, executive director of Business Partners, says in his experience it is the most successful entrepreneurs who seek out mentors and use them to ensure continued success. Conversely, it is often the struggling business owner who holds the attitude towards a mentor of: “What can this guy teach me? What he is onl...
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SA on the cusp of a major tourism boom

South Africa is on the cusp of a major tourism boom, but it will only materialise if local tourism businesses can resist the temptation to put up their prices as the number of tourists continues to climb. This is according to Anton Roelofse, Regional General Manager of Business Partners, the leading financier to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in South Africa. Reflecting on the state of the industry as it enters tourism month, Roelofse sees s...
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Finding freedom through training and experience

When she thinks of the work-life balance of business owners, the image that comes to mind for Gugu Mjadu, executive general manager: marketing at Business Partners, is of her mother on holiday with her family with the phone stuck to her ear - constantly talking to her staff at the office. Her mom had started an events-planning company when she left teaching at the age of 50. The business was young, she had put all of her life savings into the ven...
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Youth entrepreneurship must be celebrated, but be careful

As South Africa celebrates its youth month, the regular calls on young people to start their own businesses will reach its annual peak. Rather than join the chorus, Business Partners strikes a more cautionary note. “It’s good to link the two (youth and entrepreneurship),” says Nazeem Martin, Business Partners CEO. “But we have to be careful.” Business Partners’ lending patterns clearly reflect this circumspection. Only 8% of the small...
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