Bathabile is a ball of energy. Humble. Passionate. A woman on a mission.
Bathabile and I met in 2018 on Facebook. We both share common interests like what can we do to grow South Africa’s economy through small businesses. Her current focus is on Township Economy and Franchise. Her roles include being a mentor and the current Youth Ambassador for NDP. She also owns a few franchises of her own.
Please give us a background on where you grew up, your education and what led you to entrepreneurship?
I was born and raised in the Free state, QwaQwa, with my parents and my older sibling. I have a National Diploma in Tourism Management, a B-Tech in Business Administration and Project Management from University of Johannesburg, and a Management Development Programme (MDP) from Unisa Business School.
Growing up, I have always aspired to be a business woman. I was inspired by the business women who would receive awards at initiatives like Community Builder of the Year. But the standard and norm of the society forced me to start at the employment level. This changed when I worked for the government and I saw a lot of policies that support youth entrepreneurship. After intense research, I chose to focus on the franchise industry. I embarked on this journey towards starting a business and found that it was accommodative to my needs. Having never run a formal business before, I needed something that had systems in place for me to acquire skills as well as funding for franchises – even though government initiatives to support black entrepreneurs is what drew me closer to the decision in the first place. 5 years ago, the NEF offered me funding to start my first franchise.
When did you start the entrepreneurship journey and how did you overcome the challenges of making it?
I started at a young age. In grade 1, I used to stay with my grandparents in Kroonstad and we would sell homemade peanuts at school. My grandpa was a full-time bicycle mechanic and he would also run his to own workshop at home, fixing anything from bicycles to prams and stoves. He could fix anything to do with metal and welding. He inspired me and since then, I have always tried my hand at various informal businesses like cleaning photographs for my school peers and friends (a skill I picked up from my dad who used to run a photo clinic business). I sold chips, outsourced my computer desktop (given to me by my brother) for a fee to students that needed it for assignments and I once even initiated a beauty pageant and was the official photographer at the event.
Even after starting full-time employment, I continued to run informal businesses on the side; selling holiday vouchers, bedroom accessories (curtains and duvets sets) and coordinating events.
After few years in corporate, I decided to leave and take on entrepreneurship in a full-time capacity. I acquired my first franchise business five years ago and I am now a multi-franchisee for national brands in the food industry.
The challenges are still there but I have managed to overcome them through perseverance, hard work and dedication. Knowing that it has been done before, I tell myself that I too can do it. I am a firm believer in nothing is impossible. Here is the first paragraph from a book foreword that I love. It motivates me: “Our future – make it work. South Africa belongs to all its people and the future of our country is our collective future. Making it work is our collective responsibility. All South Africans seek a better future for themselves and their children. The National Development Plan is a plan for the country to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030 through uniting South Africans, unleashing the energies of its citizens, growing an inclusive economy, building capabilities, enhancing the capability of the state and leaders working together to solve complex problems”.
Since reading this for the first time, I tell myself every day that I want to be an entrepreneur so that I can contribute to change in our country. I realized that regardless of the resources I have, I can still make a change. I embarked on a program to educate grade 11 and 12’s on the opportunities to further their studies through government resources by relating my own story of being from a disadvantaged background where my dad was retrenched from work in 1990 and only my mother worked as a farm school teacher.
About three years ago, as my exposure and experience increased from running a franchise business so did the idea of contributing more to change in our country. I saw how the model to contribute, not only to employment, but also for development of other businesses, provided great opportunities. The eco-system that the model has championed is so powerful. It produces sustainable business, gives access to market and access to finance by just the simple element of establishing one small business in a formal system.
You became the NDP ambassador for Youth – please can you tell us what that entails?
I feel like I have finally found a purpose and a way to contribute to society. I am pioneering Township Economic Transformation which I believe has so much potential to contribute to the high youth unemployment rate through sustainable township businesses. The initiative started about 7 years ago after the National Development Plan was launched by the commission. I got inspired and challenged to get involved.
The programme is envisaged to be delivered in the form of incubation hub which will be developed at townships. The main purpose of the hub is to offer entrepreneur’s the space to trade their business formally with appropriate infrastructure to support their trades so that they have access to more markets that they would not reach from their homes. It also overcomes the issues of hygiene and security around trading from home which impacts the growth of the businesses.
You are a passionate franchise owner and you have spoken about growing the township economy through the franchising – what is your vision of township economy, youth and franchising? Where do you see the township economy going?
The franchise model which mainly operates in the retail industry has potential to create a minimum of 10 permanent jobs from one business. The other added benefit of franchised businesses is that they are the most fundable businesses. Due to their model and track record, they are considered low risk businesses. I am one of the beneficiaries of National Empowerment Fund (NEF) and I now own 4 franchised businesses that employ over 52 youth and supports around 60 other small and big businesses monthly.
The NEF are not the only franchised business funders. Small Enterprise Finance Agency, Old Mutual, Masisizane Funding and commercial banks like ABSA also offer funding.
There are also many programs contributing to better jobs, better infrastructure development and the growth of small businesses in townships. With the right partners, the contribution to youth unemployment can be over 3%, These stats support the 6 million jobs target.
Franchising is seen as some as an obstacle due to the upfront financial commitment one has to make. What can you advise people who want to do this – especially youth in the township environment?
In business you are able to negotiate at a reasonable level. For the benefit of both parties, go into the partnership even if you are sacrificing some resources at the start. I learnt this from personal experience and it has helped me land the many opportunities I had. The other important element is looking at what is suitable for you. Not all of us can start with a big brand like KFC, which costs a small fortune. There are many affordable franchises which have less upfront requirements and financial contributions like laundry, beauty and stationery. I share many tips on entering the franchise industry on my Facebook page: Nothile Consulting – Mentorship in Franchising.
Do you offer any training for future franchise owner?
Yes. I run a mentorship program where I transfer the skills of starting a business in a franchise industry. The program covers everything from basic research to finding the most suitable franchise for you, from writing a business plan with a fundable forecast to training in my stores to physically show the potential franchisee the back office runnings of the business. It’s a very hands-on business so I like to prepare the individuals for that.
Where can people get hold of you if they want to know more about this?
Email : email@example.com On Twitter and Facebook, my handle is Bathabile Moreki