Help 50 South Africans Build Small Businesses

 
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MEP graduates after completing training
MEP graduates after completing training

 Through this year's South Africa Mobile Entrepreneurs Program (MEP), OGE has trained 215 aspiring entrepreneurs, street vendors and informal small business owners in entrepreneurship, technology and Internet safety skills.  Here's a look at the results the entrepreneurs achieved after completing intensive in-person training, receiving advice and tips via text message and exercising new skills:

  • 75% of participants have created a business plan or improved upon their existing business plan
  • 72% of MEP participants, who own businesses or have started businesses, have established an online presence for their business.
  • 65% of MEP participants have created marketing plans
  • 53% of MEP participants are incorporating the use of social media into marketing plans 
  • 72% of MEP participants have created and are accessing a LinkedIn profile for online professional networking 
  • 100% of MEP participants learned how to conduct online research to increase business knowledge and access information about government or private funding, or additional support through local entrepreneurship-focused organizations; 83% are utilizing this skill to advance their business. 
  • 100% of participants have increased their cyber security awareness
  • 100% of participants have learned how to recognize common threats targeting small businesses such as information theft and fraud
  • 100% of participants have learned how to protect their small business and personal ID

Thanks to our Global Giving donors for supporting MEP to empower high impact entrepreneurs across Johannesburg!

MEP participants, Forum4Change with James
MEP participants, Forum4Change with James
Through its Mobile Entrepreneurship Program (MEP), OGE has delivered entrepreneurship, technology and Internet safety training to 215 aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners in the Johannesburg townships of  Ratanda, Daveyton, Thokoza, Ivory Park, Orange Farm and Meyerton. 
Over 65% of participants come to MEP lacking basic digital literacy skills.  Training in basic technology equips them with the skills needed to set up and use an email address for their business communication needs, create an online presence for their business, learn to use social media for marketing as well as create an online professional profile to build their network.   
With a new program focus on cyber security for small business owners and entrepreneurs, participants are learning best practices for protecting personal identity and preventing common threats targeting small business owners such as information theft.  Local Trainer, James Sekhonyane leads participants through online and research-based activities during each workshop to learn and practice basic technology and Internet safety skills.  OGE is also expanding upon its South Africa Beehive Internet safety content (contributed by the Symantec Corporation) through a monthly article series focused on entrepreneurs and small business owners as first-time Internet users, which, in addition to entrepreneurship-focused resources, are sent to MEP participants following workshops through email and SMS.
The emphasis on technology and Internet safety skills complements MEP's intensive training on hard business skills in financial literacy and marketing and soft skills in leadership, presentation and networking.

Gugu, a 34 year old woman from Daveyton, runs a business selling handbags in her neighborhood.  Through MEP, she broadened her basic business marketing know-how by learning new and effective strategies for communicating her offering to her market. Other entrepreneurs, like Gugu, are excited to utilize social media tools to expand their marketing and reach.

Given from Ivory Park owns a car wash in his neighborhood, where he has seen similar businesses enter the market. MEP helped him prepare to compete with other local car wash businesses.  "The MEP training has helped me to identify my financial needs and prioritize so that I can save for my business in order to be competitive."   

All MEP participants receive weekly text messages to support their growth and guide them through the adoption and application of technology skills essential to starting and improving their businesses. 

OGE is grateful for the support it receives from Global Giving donors to continue MEP!

Local Trainer, James Sekhonyane leads MEP workshop
Local Trainer, James Sekhonyane leads MEP workshop
        One Global Economy (OGE) is gearing up to launch this year's Mobile Entrepreneurs Program (MEP).  In February, OGE will launch the program in 6 rural townships throughout Johannesburg, (Heidelburg, Daveyton, Ivory Park, Thokoza, Meyerton and Orange Farm) to train street vendors, informal small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs in technology skills and the soft and hard skills needed for business incubation and micro-enterprise development.  With support from Symantec Corporation and Global Giving donors, OGE plans to serve 200 participants and incorporate a new focus on cyber security and Internet safety best practices for small business owners, as well as develop partnerships with local organizations to connect participants to a variety of opportunities and resources.  
 
        Training on cyber security and Internet safety best practices can build entrepreneurs’ cyber security awareness, and empower them to protect their businesses from common threats such as information theft and fraud. Small businesses often encounter cyber security issues because they cannot afford state of the art software to protect themselves from loosing information to hackers and competitors. Many participants in the program lack the information to make decisions about and implement adequate security plans.   South Africa’s recently approved National Cyber Security Policy Framework was developed in response to the rise of cyber crimes over the past few years that have had a detrimental effect on the economy and target vulnerable populations such as emerging business owners.  
 
        OGE is excited to launch this year's program in the coming weeks and offer a new training topic in addition to digital literacy, leadership, professional and entrepreneurship skills building activities and support participants' growth through text messages!
Meyerton MEP Graduates
Meyerton MEP Graduates
By the end of the 2013-2014 Mobile Entrepreneurs Program (MEP), One Global Economy (OGE) engaged over 400 aspiring entrepreneurs, street vendors, and small business owners.  The program reached 8 rural townships and communities in Johannesburg and Durban, the highest number of communities OGE has served in a given year, many of which do not have access to training opportunities in entrepreneurship, technology, and financial literacy skills.
 
In addition to delivering its intensive training workshops, MEP offered all participants virtual mentoring through SMS. Through text messages, the local trainer reinforced learning, and disseminated tips and information to track progress and success, engaging in 2-way communication at times, to coach entrepreneurs on specific topics. Text message content corresponds to both workshop material and concepts learned, as well as desired results in business planning, financial literacy, and technology skills application, providing participants with guidance at every stage in starting and growing their enterprise.
 
After the last round of workshops this summer, OGE evaluated the 375 participants, who remained in the program out of a total of 400, and their achievement of the desired results.  Program activities have contributed to the following results:
 
1) 60% opened a bank account 
 
2) 91% created a business plan 
 
3) 29% increased their savings for business growth by 25% 
 
4) 11% monitored bank accounts online and/or through SMS alerts 
 
5) 22% accessed 10 government and/or private local services for education and/or financial support using the Internet 
 
6) 10% increased profits by 20% 
 
7) 14% increased new business opportunities by 15% 
 
8) 40% established partnerships in a joint business venture
 
9) 25% found a job opportunity online.
OGE hopes to work in partnership with the Symantec Corporation for its 2014-2015 program to incorporate a focus on cyber security for small business owners and entrepreneurs.  
Meyerton asipring women entrepreneurs
Meyerton asipring women entrepreneurs

The Mobile Entrepreneurs Program (MEP) engaged more aspiring entrepreneurs, street vendors, and small business owners this past month through intensive training workshops in entrepreneurship, financial literacy and technology skills in the Johannesburg townships of Ratanda, Thokoza, Orange Farm, and Meyerton, bringing the total number of people served through the 2013-2014 program year to over 375. In between educational workshops and activities, Local Master Trainer, James Sekhonyane led group brainstorming sessions focused on discussing relevant topics in entrepreneurship, such as how to convert community challenges into opportunities for small business creation, defining essential characteristics of an entrepreneur, and best practices for collective fundraising and improving financial literacy.  

In Thokoza, MEP engaged 23 young aspiring entrepreneurs, of which 80% were women, who were eager to start their own businesses after celebrating Youth Day in South Africa.  The women were empowered through sessions focused on key challenges such as how to find start-up funding.  33 year-old Moureen came to the workshop with the goal of developing more formal business skills for running her 'spaza' or 'tuck' shop, a small neighborhood corner store selling items ranging from food, drinks, cooking supplies and airtime for mobile phones. After learning practical skills she could apply toward improving her business, Moureen felt confident that her shop would "operate more efficiently and productively," going forward.  "I learned the importance of taking inventory and calculating all my expenses to be able to cut costs.’’ she said. 

In Orange Farm, the workshops inspired Maria to take charge of her current financial status and start a food stand, where she plans to treat her customers, "with the utmost care and professional service, so that they can have the best food experience." Another trainee, Matshidiso, who seeks to expand her beauty parlor services to serve residents within Orange Farm and surrounding areas said, "I’ve recently started my business and customers complain that my prices are a bit high. However, through the training, I learned the importance of building a good, solid brand and to not compromise quality at any cost.”
Jutaita is a 46-year-old woman from Ratanda, who has aspirations of running her own tea and coffee shop.  At the workshop, Jutaita focused on learning how to define her target market to ensure its success.
One Global Economy seeks to continue offering the program to empower more South Africans with skills-building training through partnering with Siyafunda Community Technology Centres, which have enabled the expansion of the program to new centers and townships.  In Ratanda, there are not many opportunities for entrepreneurship education.  There is only one government program reaching the community. With MEP serving the township at least three times per year, the program receives large groups of motivated and enthusiastic participants every time.  MEP first came to Meyerton in the Spring.  After the success of the first workshop, a second one was planned to engage a new group.  Because of its central location, MEP has the opportunity to reach not only residents of Meyerton, but also residents of surrounding communities, who do not have access to such training opportunities, who hear of the program and sign up to attend. Andreas, a community political leader of Meyerton said, “If most of my fellow community leaders and members attended this programme, we will definitely see a huge change in attitudes, and positive things will happen in our impoverished community."  

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Project Leader

Alyssa Perez

San Francisco, California United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Help 50 South Africans Build Small Businesses