On Saturday 25 August 2018, aspiring entrepreneurs based in Gauteng can look forward to a workshop which will share the ins and outs of what it takes to succeed in the fuel retail sector.
Presented by the PetroCONNECT Academy, the workshop is aimed at arming new entrants to the market with practical insights into the industry, and is the second in a series of workshops taking place across the country in the coming months.
The series of workshops is the brainchild of businessmen Sbonelo Mbatha and Mark Harper. The duo co-founded PetroCONNECT this past year with the vision of offering practical interventions that can help solve and streamline the challenges most stakeholders in the energy industry face at the moment.
One of those challenges has been the failure rate of new entrants into the fuel retail sector specifically, and in answer to that PetroCONNECT founded the PetroCONNECT Academy as part of their service offering. The Academy aims to not only support the professionalisation of the industry through training and education programmes, but through mentorship initiatives make the sector more accessible to those entrepreneurs who show they have what it takes to succeed.
Once the 2018 workshop series has been concluded, the PetroCONNECT Academy will launch programmes that include theoretical training, on-site practical internship programmes, industry readiness programmes and courses which will empower new entrants to approach the industry successfully.
“The wider energy industry is one of South Africa’s key economic drivers, while the fuel retail sector specifically has grown considerably. It is, in fact, one of the few sectors to weather the downgrading, Rand volatility and negative growth rates the country experienced the last few years,” says Mark Harper, co-founder of PetroCONNECT.
“That makes it one of the more lucrative and most rewarding sectors one can enter as an entrepreneur. However, it is a very specialised sector governed by highly technical legislative and operational requirements, and we have found that there are a lot of misperceptions about what it actually takes to succeed. Just as lucrative and exciting as it can be, the challenges one faces as a service station owner if not prepared for those challenges, can really mean the difference between succeeding and failing.”
Sbonelo Mbatha, also a co-founder of PetroCONNECT, explains that the intention of the workshop is to arm new entrants into the market with a practical understanding of the industry: “Despite being one of the very few industries that can claim to be recession-proof, the fuel retail industry is faced with a number of challenges in terms of sustainability, transformation, ownership and day-to-day operational requirements. And someone who is not prepared for what they will face upon entering the market, can find it very difficult to navigate their way.”
“The idea then with the PetroCONNECT Academy and our workshops is to help a generation of talented new entrants approach the market with the hands-on skills and business acumen required by the sector, and so contribute to the overall success and sustainability of the fuel retail industry as a whole.”
The co-founding team of PetroCONNECT have first-hand experience in the numerous challenges posed by the sector, and have a very clear and practical understanding of the pressures faced by those working in the industry. Subsequently, the PetroCONNECT Academy workshops share detailed practical guidance, real world examples, and advice on industry best practice with participants.
Says Mbatha: “Through the Academy we give those interested in entering the market – and even those who are already in the market and considering whether they expand further or exit the sector – access to some very practical guidance, tools and a network of highly specialised service providers. Our hope is that participants will leave the workshops feeling empowered with a greater understanding of what it takes to succeed in this industry, and that they will then be equipped to make informed and educated decisions about their entrepreneurial journey.”
Both Mbatha and Harper are passionate about mentorship and skills development, and hope that with the PetroCONNECT Academy they can infuse participants with some of their own passion and excitement for the future of the industry.
“We want to walk a path with those who decide that the industry is in fact for them,” adds Mbatha. “Part of our offering at PetroCONNECT is to – once someone decides after the workshop that fuel retail franchising is in fact the right journey for them – help set them on a learning and mentorship journey with the PetroCONNECT Academy. We have in-depth insight into the pitfalls and challenges one faces on that path, and we want to share our learnings and expertise with those who are starting to set out on their entrepreneurship journey.”
Harper concludes: “Many of the most successful players in the industry have some truly inspiring stories to tell about the role mentorship and development played in their success. Many – including Sbonelo and I – would acknowledge that they owe their success to those individuals who were willing to mentor, invest time and walk the path with them. And that’s the essence of what’s at the heart of the PetroCONNECT Academy – to empower talented entrepreneurs with the experiential and hands-on skills they need to become qualified in successfully running their very own fuel retail business.”
The Gauteng PetroConnect Academy Workshop takes place on Saturday 25 August 2018 from 09:00 to 14:00 at Rhema Bible Church (Cnr Rabie and Hans Schoeman Street, Randpark Ridge, Randburg). Cost is R695 per person and includes refreshments, lunch as well as the PetroCONNECT Fuel Retail 101 Guide, which will act as a useful reference manual to participants after the workshop.
To register for the workshop, visit PetroCONNECT’s website (www.petroconnect.co.za/academy). The cut-off date for registration and payment is Thursday 23 August 2018. For more information or queries, interested participants can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 08611 PETRO (73876). Alternatively follow PetroCONNECT on Facebook or LinkedIN for updates on future workshops.
A workshop is scheduled for Cape Town at the beginning of October 2018, and further workshops for the remainder of the year will be announced in due course.