Entrepreneurs business concept leadership

High inflation, volatile commodity prices and extended loadshedding are key drivers behind South Africa’s sputtering economy. Business sentiment is at an all-time low, notwithstanding 0.6% growth in GDP in the second quarter of 2023.

Forecasts are not much better. As reported in the Mail and Guardian, the South African Reserve Bank expects the economy to expand by just 0.7% in 2024.

Even the good news is tepid. Employment figures did improve in Q2 2023, but by a nominal 5%. The chief economist at PwC is predicting a 2% drop in repo rate by the fourth quarter of 2025, bringing rates in line with 2019 levels.

By all indices, business activity in South Africa will continue to be constrained in 2024 and the foreseeable future.

Where traditional business sectors remain subdued, innovative entrepreneurs find a way, disrupting industry and making their own, new opportunities for business growth.

Here are six businessmen and women in South Africa who are making names for themselves locally and abroad.

Kelebogile Molopyane – CEO of Africa Beyond 4IR   

Kelebogile Molopyane – CEO of Africa Beyond 4IR   

Source: Drone Council SA.

“Everything is possible but only if you think so. Lift others as you rise and see what becomes possible.”

Entrepreneur and published author Kelebogile Molopyane is passionate about educating, empowering and enabling future entrepreneurs. Her day job as the CEO of AB41R dovetails with her co-directorship of the Drone Council of South Africa. Both entities are focussed on exposing young people to 4IR technologies – animation, virtual reality, gaming and drone technology.

To date, Kele and her digital incubation hub have bagged the 2021 Institution of the Year Award, the CWENA 2022 African Disruptor of the Year in 4IR Award and GrindstoneX in 2023.

Dumi Mahlangu – Founder and MD of Chepa Streetwear   

Dumi Mahlangu – Founder and MD of Chepa Streetwear  

Source: Twitter.

“I encourage you to create something and trust in yourself. When you do that, other people will buy into your vision and trust in it too.”

Trend-setter, fashionista and business strategist Dumi Mahlangu took a punt on himself – and it’s paying off. In 2018, the BCom graduate in economics left a cushy job in investments to set up Chepa Streetwear, one of the hottest new fashion brands in South Africa.

Today, the online fashion emporium employs 20 people and delivers countrywide. Dumi credits his success to creativity, hard work and self-reliance.

Thapelo Nthite – Co-Founder Botlhale Al

Thapelo Nthite – Co-Founder Botlhale Al

Source: News24.

“The vulnerable feeling of stepping out of your comfort zone is the birthplace of innovation.”

With a degree in mechatronics and an MSc in electrical engineering in the pipeline, it’s a wonder Thapelo Nthite has the time to do anything but study.

Together with a team of bright sparks, he co-founded Botlhale AI in 2019. The multi-award-winning software is shattering the English-only barrier by delivering the basics of information and communications technology (ICT) in all official languages.

To date, the team has been invited to join the Grindstone Accelerator programme and, in 2023, the AI and machine-learning platform won the DataHack 4FI Innovation competition.

Thandi Hartmann – Founder of Blushproof

Thandi Hartmann – Founder of Blushproof

Source: LinkedIn.

“It is a sustainable product South African women must have, especially those living in rural areas.”

Thandi Hartmann wanted to make an impact on “period poverty” – the time lost to young women who couldn’t afford or access sanitary pads.

In 2020, she took the plunge and started Blushproof, a company that sells South African-designed and manufactured sustainable “period panties”.

Hartmann’s start-up was invited to participate in the Grindstone X Accelerator programme in 2023 and is currently selling more than 1,000 units per month.

Tebogo Petlele  – Founder and CEO of Seponono

Tebogo Petlele  – Founder and CEO of Seponono

Source: Seponono Africa.

“Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.” 

Community activist and entrepreneur Tebogo Petlele is a qualified occupational therapy technician. Her love for the African “doek” catapulted her into her latest endeavour, Seponono Africa.

The brand of colourful and quintessentially African headwraps is designed for individuals and as corporate gifts. Clients include the World Economic Forum, Tsogo Sun, Mahakwe Tours, Standard Bank and Techno Serve.

Tebogo has achieved international recognition for her leadership qualities and entrepreneurial skills. She’s a top 10 finalist at Grindstone 2023.

Sammy Mhaule – Founder and CEO of Kicks Sportwear

Sammy Mhaule – Founder and CEO of Kicks Sportwear

Source: IOL.

“We are all capable of dreaming and chasing our dreams. Young people need to understand that they only need to start.”

Sammy Mhaule is a born entrepreneur. He started his journey at the age of 14 selling ice-cream to local kids. After studying engineering, he had a stint in real estate in the UK before returning home to start his most successful endeavour, Kicks Sportswear, in 2021.

The African-manufactured sportswear company won the National Startup Champion Brand at the 2022 South African Small Business Awards.

How BizFunding can assist South African entrepreneurs

At BizFunding, we know the biggest challenge entrepreneurs and start-ups face in South Africa is acquiring capital to grow and sustain their businesses.  Without steady cash flow, even the smartest ideas can’t come to fruition. 

One solution is to leverage an existing purchase order or tender to raise working capital. We’ll provide the funds required to fulfil the order or complete the tender. Only once the job is complete and the client has paid, you pay us back.

Tender and purchase funding by BizFunding is a quick and convenient way of capitalising a business and contributing to South Africa’s economy – without requiring a huge amount of finance upfront. An easy online application, same-day funding approval and discreet “no-credit check” business funding transaction ensures capital is available within 72 hours.

If you are a business owner on the road to success, or need funding to help start new projects or purchase orders, we can help you!

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