Diepsloot, a densely populated township in the north of Johannesburg, is often in the news for its high levels of crime, poverty and unemployment. After working with the youth there for a number of years through the Diepsloot Youth Programme, Mark Corbett (CEO of Century Property Developments) realised that there weren’t many job opportunities for the youth after they left school. Having bought the Riversands farm, located about three kilometers from Diepsloot, Corbett decided to create an incubation hub for small businesses within a larger commercial park – a development that has the potential to transform the socio-economic environment of the surrounding area.
Riversands Incubation Hub is the first phase of the Riversands Commercial Park and opened in March 2015. Headed up by CEO, Jenny Retief, the hub’s incubation programme nurtures majority black-owned small and micro enterprises by mentoring and supporting them to become fully-fledged formal businesses. The Hub is now home to more than 75 small businesses, with capacity for over 150 in total.
Riversands offers entrepreneurs a rich range of development and business growth support services that that they may choose to use to grow their businesses. These services fall into four pillars:
1. Premises – These range from 50m² to 200m²; they’re easy to access and with flexible lease terms that are small-business friendly.
2. Markets – Being at Riversands provides an ideal opportunity for entrepreneurs to leverage the market visibility and targeted market access. Regular Phusha Phanda Pressa sessions (which loosely translates to ‘push and hustle until you get there’) are a perfect example of this as they provide a vital opportunity for business owners to make themselves known to their fellow entrepreneurs and share whatever they are wrestling with, with like-minded individuals.
3. Admin & Business Support Services – Entrepreneurs may regard this service as their ‘core capacity extender’ because it allows them to add more capacity to the business and free their time to focus on revenue-generating activities. The services include management information, bookkeeping, company secretarial, admin services, HR and legal advice. The costs vary according to the nature of each service, and are heavily subsidised.
4. Growth and Learning – Many entrepreneurs face the dilemma of trying to work beyond their own capacity in order to grow their businesses. To assist in this regard, Riversands has a rich and wide range of coaching and mentoring services as well as workplace skills that entrepreneurs, their admin teams and staff can access. An example of this is the coaching sessions by Chris Smith. Chris is an internationally accredited Business & Executive Coach and entrepreneur from ActionCOACH – one of the world’s leading business coaching organisations.
The Riversands Incubation Hub believe that, ‘A good entrepreneur is dedicated to the business, is constantly marketing the business and delivering the product or service, keeps track of the numbers to ensure steady cash flow, and hires people to perform tasks that contribute to growth within the business.’
Besides the 75 businesses currently in the hub, Riversands Incubation Hub employs a further 30 people.
Riversands Incubation Hub has made it their business to support small business. They maintain: ‘There is no question that supporting small businesses grows the economy in a meaningful way. Small businesses are nimble and the money they make spreads within their communities, creating more prosperous families.’
Listen to 5fm interview with CEO, Jenny Retief
Small Business Friday is brought to you by the National Small Business Chamber (NSBC) and Nedbank (Title Sponsor) and encourages all South Africans to interact and support small business everyday; especially every Friday and even more so on Small Business Friday, the first Friday of Spring every year. This grows local communities, drives job creation and ultimately builds the nation. With your support small business will be able to employ more, therefore reducing rates of unemployment and harvesting the entrepreneurial spirit.