Darlene Menzies, CEO of leading access to finance provider, Finfind, has been awarded the prestigious Special African Business Leadership Commendation Award. The award is in recognition of her outstanding achievements in Africa's business landscape, and contributions to Africa's economic development and postCOVID recovery.
The driving force behind Finfind’s mission to make funding accessible to SMEs, Darlene is a well‐known advocate and champion for the SME sector on the continent. She is a seasoned technology innovator, local and international speaker, and serial entrepreneur. During lockdown, Darlene intensified Finfind’s efforts to assist business owners by building COVID‐19 relief information and debt relief solutions into Finfind’s online portal. She also spearheaded the national COVID impact survey, supported by Government and big business, to provide crucial information to these stakeholders, to inform the recovery solutions needed for this vital sector during, and post, COVID‐19.
The African Business Leadership Awards attracted over 220 000 nominations from across the continent. From this wealth of nominees, only 17 winners were chosen for their unique contributions to growing African business and affirming the continent’s position on the global stage as an economic powerhouse in its own right. The other South Africans short‐listed as finalists included Maria Ramos, former CEO ABSA Group; Stephen Saad, CEO, Aspen Pharmacare Holdings; Phuti Mahanyele‐Dabengwa, CEO, Naspers; and Patrice Motsepe, Executive Chairman, African Rainbow Minerals.
In response to receiving the award, Darlene said, “I am honoured to be named among such esteemed company and am humbled to receive this recognition. I share this award with the forward‐thinking, hard‐working businesspeople across the continent who are growing our economies in the trenches every day. Entrepreneurship and innovation are the keys to increased job creation and economic development on the continent. I believe African innovators possess unique insights and ground‐breaking solutions that are able to address major global challenges in this digital age.”
As the CEO of Finfind and SMEasy, Darlene continues to offer valuable advice to business owners during lockdown, using webinars and thought‐leadership articles as touchpoints for sharing valuable insights. Finfind Chairman, Gavin Reardon, congratulated Darlene on her well‐deserved award, “Darlene is a champion for small business, and we look forward to her continuing to shape the access to finance ecosystem across the continent and other regions. Her expertise, thought‐leadership and proactive approach to business growth is very much needed in order to help close the nearly $5 trillion credit gap that exists.”
South Africans have embraced Black Friday, the traditional US Thanksgiving retail frenzy, with gusto. Over the past decade Black Friday deals have seen sales skyrocket for both brick-and-mortar retailers and their eCommerce counterparts with a 2019 GeoPoll study showing a 16% increase in reported Black Friday shopping between 2017 and 2019.
In 2020 online retailers can expect a bumper sales period over Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) as shoppers avoid physical retail stores and shopping malls over Covid-19 fears. Many cash-strapped South Africans will also be looking to capitalise on welcome specials and pre-Christmas deals over the period.
This represents a massive opportunity for online sellers in South Africa to step up and deliver to a market which, until the surge in Covid-19 online spending, was sitting at just 1.4% of total retail sales in 2018, according to World Wide Worx's Online Retail in South Africa 2019 study.
Taking a cue from the US - where big names like Walmart and Target have already said they will be closing their stores on Thursday, 26 November and are considering contactless pickup options, touchless shopping and in-store safety measures for the Friday - South Africans can expect a muted offering at malls and stores in 2020, and a stronger online push.
This represents a golden opportunity for South Africa's eCommerce players – both large and small, says Warrick Kernes, founder of the Insaka eCommerce Academy.
Certainly, the likes of Aluwani Thenga, Executive Head: Merchant Services Growth at FirstRand, believes that eCommerce in South Africa will be worth R225 billion by 2025 – a 150% surge over just five years, thanks to the impact of Covid-19. Data and insights company Nielsen is already pointing towards a profound shift by consumers towards eCommerce. Nielsen found in May 2020 that 65% of South Africans shopped less at physical supermarkets as a result of Covid-19 while, among existing online shoppers, 29% increased their online shopping and 21% continued as before over this period.
While Kernes urges online retailers to grab this moment and make the most of huge consumer interest and uptake, he also warns that success can only be achieved by planning with precision. "BFCM are no longer single-day events, they have become more of a week-long retail moment and my prediction is that, in 2020, we are more likely to see a full-month, Black Friday November," says Kernes. That means being on top of your game for a full 30 days, rather than a long weekend.
For eCommerce sellers keen to capitalise on the buying frenzy, Kernes advocates launching "BFCM campaigns a month prior to the big day at the end of November", as was the case in 2019 when big retailers drove the buzz around the legendary buying opportunity. "This level of planning will be essential in 2020 as eCommerce companies must do everything possible to stand out above their competitors and make the most of this sales-rich period," says Kernes.
Drawing on the insights from an Insaka Black Friday Workshop held in September for Insaka's Premium Members, Kernes stresses that planning, clarity of purpose and action are critical in the lead up to November. This view is shared by Jonathan Smit, PayFast MD, who believes the big BFCM spike will be even more pronounced in 2020. This makes preparation of the utmost importance to handle the "massive volumes" expected this year.
From managing client expectations to careful inventory management, getting a jump on early marketing, ensuring the robustness of your site and server, and bringing in temporary staff to help, it is critical that eCommerce companies put in the work now to ensure a smooth November. One particular area of attention for all eCommerce sellers must be to continually gauge the operational preparedness of their chosen courier network to ensure they have the necessary capacity to meet the hike in demand.
"We are facing a huge shift to online sales," says Kernes. "At a time when old school retailers are struggling to keep up with online sellers, and when many consumers will be actively avoiding crowded malls, it's essential that the eCommerce community puts our top tips into action to ensure a successful Black Friday."
TOP TIPS FOR BLACK FRIDAY
Brace for higher advertising costs – With big retailers focusing more heavily on online channels, smaller players must expect higher advertising costs in 2020. This makes it essential to be smart and innovative.
Build and warm up your marketing channels – "Start warming customers up now by telling them you'll be running BFCM deals and tease about those deals," says Kernes. "Lean heavily on remarketing, which is more cost-effective than many other options during a competitive time like BFCM."
Ensure your logistics are primed for action – "Couriers are already gearing up, especially after being put on the back foot earlier in the year by Covid-19. But, with a bigger surge in sales, they will be under pressure. So, communicate. Consumers are understanding that deliveries take a bit longer, but you can ease the process by understanding what couriers need from you and how to make their lives easier," says Kernes.
Be smart about promotions – According to PayFast MD Smit: "Doing promotions shouldn't mean that you lose money needlessly; it is a tool for ultimately growing your business in the long term, so ideally, try and break-even if you can when considering all costs."
Prepare your staff - Allen Jaffe, founder of eComplete, recommends: "Staff up on customer service agents and make sure you go the extra mile and work on weekends."
Communicate. Communicate. Communicate - Jaffe adds: "Monitor feedback on social media and be quick to respond." And, where necessary, "process refunds as quickly as possible".
Do a thorough debrief – "Black Friday is a big event, but online sellers also need to be ready for Christmas. So, it's important to do a team debrief after BFCM to see what worked and what didn't, and what stock sold and did not. There is no room to breathe until Christmas is over," says Kernes.
Lean on your community - When in doubt, remember the Insaka Community boasts more than 14 000 eCommerce individuals who understand the stresses and challenges associated with running an online business. Lean on them for guidance and insights when the going gets tough.
About Insaka eCommerce Academy
The Insaka eCommerce Academy is a place of learning and a place of collaboration where South African online entrepreneurs come to learn more about selling online and to join the Insaka Community, where the members work together to help one another achieve success online.
The country’s biggest provider of heart disease medication warns South Africans to cut back on salt, as it could have a destructive impact on their cardiovascular system.
Nicole Jennings, spokesperson for Pharma Dynamics, says South Africa has the highest prevalence of hypertension in southern Africa, which is estimated to be 35%.
“About 90% of patients are not adequately controlled. This includes patients who are undiagnosed, patients diagnosed but not treated, and patients who are treated, but not adequately so.”
Prof Pamela Naidoo, CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa (HSFSA) states that uncontrolled hypertension puts patients at an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure, pulmonary hypertension and kidney disease, which places an enormous burden on SA’s healthcare resources.
“There is a strong correlation between increased dietary sodium (salt) intake and elevated blood pressure. The South African and International Hypertension Guidelines recommend a reduced dietary sodium intake, together with a healthy diet and medication, as part of the treatment protocol for hypertension. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends no more than 5g per person of salt per day, however many foods exceed that and the WHO estimates that the actual global dietary salt intake is almost double this, which is of concern,” remarks Naidoo.
According to Jennings, thousands of lives could be saved each year if salt consumption was curbed to help prevent hypertension in the first place.
The appeal comes in the wake of Heart Awareness Month this September, driven by Pharma Dynamics and the HSFSA, to make the public aware of the real dangers associated with excessive salt consumption.
Jennings says eating too much salt can lead to hypertension (high blood pressure), which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. “Processed and packaged foods are responsible for most of the salt in our diet. Since people aren’t adding salt to these products themselves, they don’t realise how much salt they contain and the harm that it’s causing.”
Prof Naidoo reminds us that excessive salt consumption is known to drive hypertension. “Blood pressure that exceeds 140/90 is dangerous. We often advise the public to read food labels and to check for sodium levels, but in the rushed society we live in, many don’t take the time to do so and, when they do, it can be confusing,” she says.
In an effort to help the public to eat less salt, Pharma Dynamics and the HSFSA have launched a digital pocket guide that contains salt charts for various food groups, such as:
- grains and bakes
- savoury snacks
- spreads and dips
- herbs and spices
- meat and proteins, as well as,
- popular ready-made meals
The salt charts forms part of the popular Cooking from the Heart wellness and healthy recipe programme, which aims to get the nation eating smart for their hearts.
Jennings says most people already know that chips and roasted nuts are high in salt, but it’s the “hidden salts” in processed food that consumers aren’t aware of.
“The salt charts address this issue and serve as a visual online tool, which can be downloaded and saved to mobile phones to make heart-healthy food choices easier when shopping.”
The salt charts indicate which foods to avoid or limit based on the sodium (or salt content). Some of these include:
- cheese, flavoured cream cheese and cottage cheese,
- tinned foods, especially those preserved in brine,
- stock powders or cubes, soup powders or tinned soups,
- marinades or marinade powders,
- olives and pickles,
- processed meat, such as polony or baloney, ham, salami, turkey, sausages, viennas
- take-outs, like burgers, fish and chips, crumbed chicken, pizzas and Chinese takeaway
- seasoning salts, like barbeque or chicken spice, and salty spreads, including margarine, butter and meat spreads,
- cured meat and fish,
- instant noodles with flavouring,
- Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce,
- crisps, salted biscuits and crackers, as well as ready-made popcorn.
How exactly does salt intake influence blood pressure?
Jennings says there are a multitude of studies that show how limiting one’s salt intake positively impacts blood pressure.
“Clinical studies have shown time and time again that too much salt imbalances the Renin-Angiotensin-Aldosterone System (RAAS) – a hormone system essential for regulating blood pressure and fluid balance in the body. When the RAAS doesn’t function properly, it leads to sodium and water retention that increases vascular resistance and blood pressure, increasing the risk of CVD.”
Salt, which is also referred to as “sodium chloride”, consist of 40% sodium and 60% chloride. One teaspoon of salt is approximately 5 grams and therefore contains 2 grams (2 000 mg) of sodium.
A randomised clinical trial of hypertensive patients consuming 2,9 g of salt daily, following the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, had a profound effect in lowering blood pressure in just 30 days.
The DASH diet, which is high in lean protein, fruit, vegetables, beans, nuts, whole grains and low-fat dairy, is also low in salt and sugar, and is recommended for a healthy heart.
Jennings says dietary interventions, including sodium reduction, are extremely important in the management of hypertension. “Further research shows that reducing blood pressure by just 10/5 mmHg is associated with a decline in:
· all cardiovascular disease events by 20 %
· all-cause mortality by 10–15 %
· coronary events (heart attack) by 20 %
· stroke by 35 %
· heart failure by 40 %.
“Ultimately, it’s up to each one of us to stay on top of our blood pressure and to keep it where it needs to be by exercising and following a healthy eating plan. Knowing what food contains more or less salt, will help us to understand what is helping or harming the health of our hearts,” concludes Jennings.
2020 SME Toolkit-BUSINESS/PARTNERS Business Plan Competition reinstates physical workshop component
As South Africans adapt to life under Alert Level 1 of lockdown, local businesses look forward to a much-needed uptick in economic activity following the worst quarterly GDP collapse on record – a 51% drop, on an annualized basis, during the second quarter of 2020. This latest easing of restrictions, however, also brings good news for aspiring entrepreneurs who have a business idea but aren’t sure where to start.
This is according to David Morobe, Executive General Manager for Impact Investing at Business Partners Limited (BUSINESS/PARTNERS), who says that in-person workshops – with the necessary caution and safety protocols – will now be allowed to take place, in selected areas, during this year’s SME Toolkit-BUSINESS/PARTNERS Business Plan Competition.
“In our 10 years of running this competition, entrants have always found the workshops to be extremely beneficial, and the platform has launched hundreds of young entrepreneurs as a result. During these highly regarded sessions, participants are also able to meet other like-minded young people, exchange ideas, and get to start useful business networks.
“We were therefore obviously hesitant to take the entire competition online as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown, as this would not only deprive entrants of their full workshop experience but could also unintentionally exclude entrepreneurs who don’t have uninterrupted internet access,” Morobe explains.
With the reinstatement of physical workshops, Petro Bothma – the Group Enterprise Development Manager at BUSINESS/PARTNERS – explains that the competition framework has been revised. “To accommodate the workshops, we have ultimately extended the timeframe of the competition, so instead of running entirely online until November 2020, the competition will culminate in a national awards ceremony, which will take place during February 2021.”
One competition component that Bothma notes was never in question are the awesome prizes up for grabs. “Based on the business plans submitted, 10 regional winners will be selected in January 2021, and will each receive mentorship assistance from leading business experts to the value of R10 000. Finally, from this pool of regional winners, one overall national winner will walk away with a further mentorship voucher worth R20 000, as well as a cash price of R30 000.”
Morobe concludes by calling on all hopeful South African entrepreneurs who have not yet entered, to do so today. “With the workshops set to commence in just over a week, I want to encourage everyone who has ever had a business idea – even those who are not sure if they’re ready to take the leap – to apply and take part in this free competition. The platform essentially allows participants to take the plunge without being exposed to the full extent of real-life risks, but having access to a variety of recourses and expert support – so there really is nothing to lose, and everything to gain.”
To enter the SME Toolkit-BUSINESS/PARTNERS Business Plan Competition for Aspiring Entrepreneurs, please complete theonline entry form on the SME Toolkit’s website. Online entry is required before the closing date for Business Plans to be submitted, 23:00 on 30 November 2020. However, in order to take part in the workshops, an online entry must be completed by 31 September 2020.
After submitting the online entry, participants will receive an invitation to join the programme, and be asked to submit a registration form and a certified copy of their IDs. Once the documents have been received, participants will be issued a registration number and invited to join a closed Facebook group for group discussions and solutions to frequently asked questions.
Training material will be provided to each participant, as well as access to selected mentors to assist with questions resulting from this. To complement online support, workshops are now scheduled to take place during October, and Business Plans must be submitted by 30 November 2020. The 10 regional finalists will be announced in January 2021, and the overall winner will be announced during February 2021.
Competing for EUR 10 000, HiiL Bootcamp delivers stellar finalists
In its mission, the Hague Institute for Innovation of Law (HiiL) aims to ensure that by 2030, 150 million people will be able to prevent or resolve their own justice problems. As global economic inequality rises in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, HiiL launched a search for technology-driven innovations, which can prevent or resolve a pressing justice need.
This week, HiiL’s top eight Southern Africa finalists will participate in a Justice Accelerator Kickoff event and Bootcamp. Led by guest speaker, the Honourable Dunstan Mlambo, Judge President of the Gauteng High Court and Chair of Community Advice Officers South Africa, the Bootcamp will help to identify the top five finalists, which will pitch for a place in the HiiL Justice Accelerator and a once off, non-equity grant of EUR 10 000 on the 30th September 2020.
Themba Mahleka, co-head of the HiiL Justice Accelerator Southern Africa, says that the nominated finalists have all presented sustainable business models that show impressive growth potential and the ability to resolve justice issues that are relevant to a large number of people: “We are very excited about the calibre of our finalists this year. Our selection process is thorough and based specifically on the potential impact, scale, and sustainability for justice innovations.”
Mahleka says that this year’s Bootcamp will also focus on the impact of Covid-19 and access to justice for ordinary people across the region: “It is important to ensure that our sessions remain relevant to the everyday struggles of the country. Reviewing the finalists has been such a fulfilling experience as innovation for justice is alive and well, with many small businesses passionately supporting this vital need in society today.”
The eight finalists who participating are:
A digital legal consultancy, which is democratizing the law for everyday South African people and business owners by offering affordable, accessible digital legal services, products, and content.
Green Governance Zimbabwe Trust
A community organization, which provides innovative methods of access to justice for artisanal and small-scale miners in Zimbabwe.
A chatbot providing practical information on the law and legal processes disseminated via Facebook Messenger, together with access to affordable on-demand legal assistance.
A platform for the registration of appliances and devices, providing them an online identity to help with recovery if stolen.
A specialist in the provision of virtual legal services and documents for small businesses in South Africa.
A virtual legal platform, which specializes in reducing the cost and accessibility of legal services for ordinary South Africans.
Provides online contract creation, access to legal services, and educational material in multiple South African languages.
An online document creation tool, which focuses on saving time, money, and effort in the wind-up of deceased estates.
HiiL is supported in its work by the Dutch Postcode Lottery to run the Justice Innovation Programme in Southern Africa.