Business magnate, Steve Jobs, said: “It’s not the tools you have faith in…It’s the people…”
The Domino Foundation realised its Enterprise Development Programme was a powerful tool to meet critical needs exposed by last July’s civil unrest. Small and micro enterprises desperately needed assistance to resume trading. Domino Foundation and Domino Business Development adapted the programme, and the latter’s Khulisa Business Development Programme for Small to Medium Enterprise Development (SME) to meet the contingency plan.
Domino Foundation, CEO, Shaun Tait, commented: “We worked with the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, VumaFM and Tencent Africa to support these SMEs. Through assessments, site visits, mentor-coaching and financial grants, we aimed to get businesses trading as quickly as possible.”
The programme used leads from the community and other NPOs in affected communities. Ten businesses were identified as potential recipients of grants of between R20,000 and R50,000.
Pre and on-site assessment, Domino Business’ Mickey Wilkins explained, validated the businesses as legitimate enterprises. The damage and what was needed to resume trading as soon as possible were assessed. Validations, timelines and projected areas of expenditure were signed.
Funds were released in two tranches. The first permitted businesses to start re-establishing themselves. With invoices paid, stock ordered, agreed repairs completed and security in place, the second tranche was released. Mentoring sessions and surveys over 6 months ensured ongoing development.
Recurring themes called for ongoing mentorship and a development programme. Some asset-rich businesses located in high-risk areas were uninsurable. and owners had little understanding of insurance. Domino’s business-training workshops provided information and network-support bases.
The programme grew into 10-weeks of coaching/mentoring with focused videos and professional think-tank input-sessions. Steps to be taken emphasised grant-income-generation and investment. A workbook series was developed for the entrepreneurs to reflect and update on the changes to their businesses.
The ability to pivot was critical in the process. Mentoring helped owners rise to new entrepreneurial levels, identifying unsustainable business operations, jettisoning muddled business practices, unclear target-market understanding and unhelpful branding.
At the end of 2021, Old Mutual contacted the Durban Chamber of Commerce about the group’s support grants project. With Shaun chairing DCC’s NPO forum, Domino’s relationship with the Chamber was strong. The DCC knew of businesses struggling long after the unrest eight of which received Old Mutual grants.
Many immediate needs had been met, but Domino saw the violence had severely traumatised entrepreneurs. Before payment of the second tranche, Old Mutual added the Centre for Mental Wellness’ 3-day trauma-processing workshop to help entrepreneurs deal with personal trauma and its impact on their businesses.
Domino is looking for partnerships to extend the project so more SMEs can re-establish themselves and come back better-equipped to face the future.
Photograph: Gavin Simpkins, Theo Brown and Mickey Wilkins, facilitators of the Khulisa SME Relief programme.