Small Business Owners in Townships and Greater Cape Town Awarded

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Nicholas Xhonxa, co-owner of the 100% black owned SSA Ads which started in Gugulethu and now operates from Bothasig, was named as the ABSA Top Small Business Owner Student with the highest mark overall after completing the sponsored nine-month Development Programme offered by the Small Business Academy (SBA) of the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) at a ceremony held today (18 November).

Gugulethu’s ATG Ekasi Handbags and Clothing co-owner, Thuleka Duze, received the Distell Award for the Business with the most Potential whilst Magdeleen Scheepers, owner of Mac Hair and Beauty Salon in Blackheath, took the SBA Mentors Award for the Most Improved Participant.

The ceremony saw small business owners from previously disadvantaged communities in the greater Cape Town area receiving their certificates for successfully completing the programme aimed at empowering small business owners to strengthen the sustainability of their businesses. Its major sponsors are Distell Foundation and ABSA.

Top student Nicholas says that building brands beyond advertising is the motto of his company. SSA Ads offers promotions, brand activation, brand development and the embroidery of clothing to the likes of SEDA, Oxfam-Nestafrica, Thoza Tours, Care Foundation Guild and Overberg Events amongst others.

“Our agency is owned by me and my brother, employ one sales consultant and use part-time staff to assist at events and with promotions. We started the agency in November 2015 after noticing a gap in the market. Many of the below-the-line marking and promotional campaigns are run in townships and that’s where we come in handy because we understand cultural dynamics of the townships.”

Nicholas has been involved in the world of business since 2006. Armed with a B.Com Honours, Nicholas has certainly put his knowledge of business management, business development and sales to his advantage in starting the business. “We are a fast growing company and although our major challenges are cash-flow, securing business from large corporate companies and competing within an industry that’s predominantly white owned agencies, we are more determined than ever to assist our clients to stand out from the mass.”

He says that the SBA programme has had a significant impact on their business. “We are more focussed now and have a greater understanding of new trends in business and how to continuously be one step ahead.”

SSA Ads hope to employ a graphic designer from a previously disadvantaged community soon and aims to grow the business to become one of the prominent role players in the advertising and marketing industry within the next two years.

Dr Marietjie Theron-Wepener, Head of the SBA programme, said that they are incredibly proud of each participant for furthering their knowledge, sharpening their business skills and becoming leaders within their communities.

“Small businesses play a leading role in developing our country. A recent study conducted by The Small Enterprise Development Agency highlighted that SMMEs are key drivers of economic growth, innovation and job creation contributing 42% to GDP in 2015 in comparison to 33% to GDP in 2010.

“But the same research also shows that not all SMMEs survive their first years. Typical hindrances include the inability to produce an acceptable business plan, poor market research, and lack of access to vibrant markets. With this in mind, business education is fundamental in sustaining these small business owners and education providers and corporates need to step-up their involvement to share their knowledge and skill set.

“By launching the SBA programme four years ago our aim was to fill the much needed gap for business education by engaging with small business owners, equipping them not only with knowledge but also exposing them to opportunities to engage with large corporates.”

The SBA Development Programme is sponsored amongst other by ABSA and the Distell Foundation and the nine-month programme teaches business administration, financial management, business plan writing and marketing amongst other. Throughout the programme the candidates are mentored by an MBA alumnus of USB, proving to be one of the most valuable assets of the programme.

Entries are now open for the 2017 intake and interested small business owners need to complete an online application form. Short-listed candidates will be invited for an interview and are required to complete an aptitude test. Visit for more information or contact Benjamin Matshoba at 021-9184379.

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