Are you a social entrepreneur? Apply now for the business help you need

An 18-month Fetola programme helps 50 local entrepreneurs build successful businesses and become job creators in SA

The SEIL programme at Fetola is aimed at giving SA's budding social entrepreneurs the business help they need to succeed.
The SEIL programme at Fetola is aimed at giving SA's budding social entrepreneurs the business help they need to succeed.
Image: Supplied

SA’s 141,500 social entrepreneurs have given crucial support to the economy by creating nearly 600,000 jobs, with an estimated 76,000 more to come by 2030. 

Sadly, however, about 70% say they struggle to raise funding due to a lack of networks, and 40% don’t even know what type of funding to raise. What’s more, their choice of business model could affect the amount of funding they raise.

“These entrepreneurs need support and guidance if they are to succeed,” says Ashleigh Sibanda, programme manager: business incubation at business growth specialist Fetola

Together with FNB, Fetola is now accepting applications for its 2021 Social Entrepreneurship Impact Lab (SEIL) programme. Already in its second year, the 18-month programme helps organisations that are tackling social, environmental and economic issues in SA to make the most of their growth and investment potential.

These entrepreneurs need support and guidance if they are to succeed

More than 50% of social entrepreneurs have less than five years’ relevant experience before they start their enterprises, says Sibanda. Therefore they need mentoring and coaching from more experienced entrepreneurs who have negotiated the fundraising landscape. 

“In my experience, they also typically need help with refining their value proposition, testing operational assumptions, strengthening their business model and improving investment readiness,” she says. 

These entrepreneurs also need to learn business basics such as strategic planning, costing and pricing models, sales and marketing strategies, pitching, leadership and people management. 

“Most importantly, they need introductions to potential partners and finance providers. All too often these entrepreneurs are left to fend for themselves, making it unsurprising that 70% of small, medium- and micro-sized enterprises in SA fold within the first five to seven years.” 

Kusini Water

This range of support has already helped previous SEIL programme participants Kusini Water and Bella Legacy.

Since enrolling in the programme, Murendeni Mafumo, owner of Kusini Water, which makes more than 3-million litres of clean drinking water available to communities in need every month, has secured partnerships and contracts with DHL, the Oliver & Adelaide Tambo Foundation, the US embassy and DuPont. 

The enterprise’s innovative sponsorship and third-party funding model has allowed the team to scale up to more than 30 sites across SA, including schools, clinics and even a night shelter. Despite Covid-19 affecting some of its sites, the business boosted its turnover by 352% and increased its staff numbers by 500% in the past 18 months. 

Bella Legacy

In SA, roughly 3.7-million girls and women cannot afford sanitary pads – which is where Bella Legacy steps in to provide low-income earners and schools in poorer communities with affordable pads. 

Despite the Covid-19 crisis, founder Matefo Morakeng expanded her business. Working closely with her mentor, she started selling her products on large e-commerce sites such as Takealot and Loot. Bella Legacy sanitary products are also now available at select Dis-Chem stores nationwide, and Morakeng has entered into a partnership with the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital to supply sanitary pads to young girls. 

Apply now

During the initial 12 months of the SEIL programme, 50 social entrepreneurs receive targeted and practical business growth support and an introduction to investment readiness. Twenty enterprises are then selected from the group for a further six months of investment readiness support.

“As Bill Drayton, the person credited with first coining the term ‘social entrepreneur’ back in 1972, said: ’The life purpose of the true social entrepreneur is to change the world.’ Sometimes they just need a little help doing so,” says Sibanda. 

Applications for the 2021 SEIL programme close on Wednesday December 1 2021. Click here to apply, or here for more information.

This article was paid for by Fetola.