In October 2019 we officially launched the enke/Investec Business on a Bicycle Generator providing business support, seed funding and Qhubeka bicycles to 37 aspiring young entrepreneurs in Kagiso, helping them establish or grow their early-stage small businesses. In March, just before the lockdown, the entrepreneurs were just hitting their stride, diligently applying the practical lessons and insights from the Generator workshops to start-up or build their enterprises using their Qhubeka bicycles. So, the COVID-19 Pandemic and national lockdown hit them hard.
COVID-19 has been devastating for small businesses of every kind around the world and the country (check out Yoco’s Small Business Recovery Monitor for data on the impact on South African SMMEs). Many have lost business and, almost all, have needed to adapt rapidly to national lockdown regulations. We’re proud to count several of our Business on a Bicycle entrepreneurs among those that have successfully adapted and are continuing to thrive.
Custom Masks & Delivery Services: Khulani & Sibongile
Khulani Maluleke owner of Keatlegile Distributors and Sibongile Ntamane who owns Blvck Lupè Art & Couture first went into a partnership in April to design artistic masks, they make hand-sewed masks then hand paint them after to customize them to the liking of their customers. This gained them popularity as the masks were unique and customers were able pick their own designs. They worked together to make the masks, distributing across Kagiso, with their bicycles. Demand was so high in April that they outsourced the making of the masks to a lady in the neighbourhood who has a machine to help with sewing, so that they would only have responsibility for marketing, painting and delivery of the masks.
By May, the mask business was waning, so Khulani and Sibongile pivoted to a bicycle delivery service, Deliv-A-Ring, which coincided with Alert Level 4 and opening of delivery services. They are doing extremely well and their business has been expanding and growing at a rapid rate. With their business, they have also been able to create an income for fellow BOB entrepreneurs by using them for deliveries (outsourced deliveries to Tsietsi Moagi, Abueng Motsayathebe and Ntokozo Mbuli). Deliv-a-Ring has seen its reach growing with major partnerships with local businesses to deliver food and groceries to their customers and to show that they are always on the lookout for opportunities they are now also delivering alcoholic beverages to their clients. The team is making strides – they have been featured in two local business magazines and are launching an app in August to make deliveries faster and easier for their customers.
Mokgwasa Creations: Josephine adds Masks to Baking Business
When the national lockdown was announced, Josephine Mokgwasa temporarily shutdown her baking business, Mokgwasa Creations. When the lockdown was extended, she realised that she would need to adapt and the loss of business would be too devastating. So, Josephine decided to venture into making and selling masks, while restarting her baking business. Her sewing of masks coupled with her cake baking business has seen her do extremely well despite the pandemic’s disruption. A challenge she encountered was the machine she was using had broken and she had to start sewing by hand, this has not hindered her as she continues to work and has also reached out to us for assistance with purchasing the sewing machine. The cake baking was also affected by power cuts that the area was experiencing and to curb this she learned how to bake her cakes using a pot and a gas stove, next level innovation.
Healthy Drinks & Rental Business: Kelebogile Makhwelo
Kelebogile Makhwelo expanded her spices and earrings business to now making and selling a lemon herbal drink which has gained popularity in her community. The product she now offers has grown and has helped her make great progress and generate income, she sells the lemon herbal drink at R10 per 500ml bottle. She says COVID-19 has gotten people to take extra health precautions hence the introduction of her product. She made profits of R3000 which she used to expand her business reach even further, she used the money and bought a shack which she rents out and makes R500 a month from it, she plans on buying another shack soon which she will also be renting out.
Continuing Support For Our Entrepreneurs
The national lockdown meant that we had to suspend face-to-face training workshops. We immediately started providing support in the form of live WhatsApp Live Chats and one-on-one phone check-ins sessions that were structured in a way to share health and safety information about the Coronavirus, as well as sharing ideas, information and resources to help them navigate the space. During the live chats and check-in sessions we encouraged entrepreneurs to share information related to interventions available for small businesses, which they did. We also compiled a list of all the relief funds that were available for them to apply for their type of business, and have assisted four (4) entrepreneurs submit applications. The assistance offered included airtime/data to access forms, helping them understand the forms, and proof-reading of applications for submission. Additionally we regularly share online training programs and platforms that are available for participants to upskill themselves while their businesses may be idle.
We are very proud of their entrepreneurs and their ongoing commitment to charting their own way and succeeding through enterprise.