Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA) rolled out its Bizniz in a Box initiative in 2016 as part of the company's Youth Empowerment Programme. It involves the selection of talented young people who are then trained in marketing, sales, stock management and finance as well as given access to funding to start their own container business - a business in a box.
“Aspiring entrepreneurs in South Africa face a number of challenges, including a lack of funding and skills, fierce competition from bigger companies and regulatory challenges. These common hurdles have resulted in high failure rates for small businesses,” says Tsholofelo Mqhayi, head of enterprise and community development at CCBSA. “Through the Bizniz in a Box process, we’re helping young people set up and manage thriving businesses in their communities.”
What sets the programme apart is its incremental process of helping young entrepreneurs operate their own businesses through on-the-job training. The benefit of this approach is that they are assessed on their actual performance in a live environment, rather than in a classroom set-up only. It also gives candidates a true taste of what it is like to operate a micro-business independently.
Participants attend an Entrepreneurial Bootcamp where they are given the basic business skills they need to manage their Bizniz in a Box. Prospective entrepreneurs complete a National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Level 2 accredited programme and demonstrate that they grasp and understand basic financial principles.
They are then allocated a fully-stocked container shop and operate the store for a period of two months. During this time, they need to use their own initiative to promote the store within the community using direct marketing, promotions and other tools. Once the two-month immersion process is complete, the entrepreneurs who meet predetermined performance criteria graduate and proceed to the next phase, going operational.
Repaying capital teaches valuable financial lessons
At this stage, entrepreneurs begin the exciting task of managing their allocated store. This allows them to gain valuable micro-enterprise-related experience under the guidance and support of CCBSA, business development support consultants and mentors. They must then start making monthly repayments towards the start-up capital outlay of the store and inventory. Once the total repayment process has been completed and the entrepreneur meets the predetermined performance criteria, the store is officially handed over to them.
“Bizniz in a Box works on the basis that the youth repay a portion of the capital cost of the store,” says Akona Sishuba, enterprise development project manager. “The money that is repaid is invested in future rollouts of the project, enabling more youth to be supported in their quest to become entrepreneurs.”
Exposure to the programme offers an opportunity to young people to own a micro-business. They are also encouraged to start thinking about other opportunities outside their shop, such as opening up a franchised business.
CCBSA has also committed to exploring and developing a micro-franchise programme supporting township retail development leveraging Bizniz in a Box, as well as the Owner Driver programme, which develops logistics entrepreneurs. These will be used to collaborate with the Tshepo 1 Million township economy programme, a partnership to coordinate efforts between government and the private sector to help create opportunities for 1 million youth in the province.
“Given the current economic landscape, prospects for growth and development are limited,” says Sishuba. “Through the Bizniz in a Box programme, youth candidates will be given an opportunity for self-employment, helping to secure their own livelihoods and support their families.”