All4Women Entrepreneurs is a monthly feature where we put the spotlight on amazing female entrepreneurs starting businesses in South Africa. This month we spoke to Anele Mkuzo (who started an entrepreneurial consultancy) to find out how she did it.
Entrepreneur: Anele Mkuzo
Company name: Zinde Zinde t/a African Entrepreneurship Initiative (AEi)
Industry: Entrepreneurial development and consultancy
Year started: 2015
Entrepreneurship can be a rewarding and exciting journey, but it is also hard work. Entrepreneur and academic Anele Mkuzo is using her educational background and entrepreneurial experience to guide young entrepreneurs through the pitfalls and setbacks of starting a business.
Starting Zinde Zinde
In 2015, Anele founded Zinde Zinde t/a African Entrepreneurship Initiative (AEi): a consultancy that advises, educates and trains young entrepreneurs.
Funded solely on contributions from a corporate sponsor, AEi offers businesses and government the opportunity to contribute to educating and training young entrepreneurs. This makes it possible for Anele to run her business and provide expert training and guidance without charging the young would-be entrepreneurs who come to her for help.
Focused on township and peri-urban youth, Anele says spending many years in academia made her realise the value of learning and how so many young people didn’t have such opportunities because of their financial and social circumstances.
“I worked at a business school for a long time involved in entrepreneurial development. As I worked, I understood the importance of a support system and learning. I also saw that that support system and those opportunities didn’t exist for young people in the townships and peri-urban areas. As a young person myself, I felt that I could do something to change this and provide the support and opportunities to learn through consultancy,” explains Anele.
With a solid background in education and training and experience from the corporate world, Anele felt she had a strong foundation and the means necessary to help young people build their entrepreneurial projects.
Leaving academia to work on Zinde Zinde t/a African Entrepreneurship Initiative (AEi) didn’t move Anele out of the teaching environment, but rather allowed her to extend the reach of the knowledge she wanted to share and include young people who do not have access to formal tertiary education.
Not afraid to face a challenge
Anele is renowned for her academic success and celebrated across Africa for her work in the field of entrepreneurial development. She was named in the Mail and Guardian Top 200 Young South Africans in 2016 and as the Fairlady Women of the Future Rising Star in 2017.
Even while earning accolades in her field, Anele says she is not immune to the challenges faced by entrepreneurs and business owners.
“As an entrepreneur, one must accept that there will be lots of setbacks – some greater than others. Some you have control over and some are beyond your control. A setback that stands out for me is new business development. It’s a challenge that most SMEs struggle with, especially in the beginning.”
Although finding new business and taking hold of new opportunities is an obstacle all new businesses must face, Anele thinks that a willingness to adapt and identify different opportunities within your field of expertise can expand your business base.
“If you manufacture couches, then when all your potential customers have bought couches, you will not have a business unless you diversify. Making couches is great, but be willing to provide other goods and services that your potential customers need. Now that they have couches, you should offer to repair couches and reupholster them too – expanding your customer base and your opportunities to do business,” says Anele.
Why South Africa needs institutions like AEi
Anele stresses the importance of market research before starting a new business. In a developing country like South Africa, the market for an entrepreneur development consultancy like Zinde Zinde is undeniable.
“Young people are encouraged to venture into entrepreneurship, but they aren’t given the support they need; academic institutions are still inaccessible to many and cannot offer individualised opportunities to learn to those who do have access,” she says.
Although there is an obvious need for the type of specialised education, training and guidance Anele provides to underprivileged youth through Zinde Zinde, she feels that the impact of her work is not easily measured.
“Sometimes the impact is not immediately identifiable or quantifiable. But with every individual that goes through our programmes we hope we spark a newfound curiosity for the entrepreneurship path they’ve chosen,” says Anele.
Policies governing business in South Africa are also another challenge that Anele says stand in the way of growing business.
With so many odds against young entrepreneurs in South Africa, Anele knows that mentorship and sharing of information is vital for the growth of young business in South Africa.