Cheers to the year of yes...
We are already in March. It is unbelievable how time flies when you are having fun. And we are having a lot of fun in 2021 after the dark and gloomy 2020. The President has just moved the country to Alert Level 1. Travel, especially international travel is expected to increase exponentially this year. This bodes very well for the economy, especially the tourism sector.
The Covid-19 experience has caused us to momentarily forget our purpose and lose track of the force that drives our passion and ignites our dreams. But the time has come for us to return to the race of excelling in black business and be the best we can be, in order to achieve all our goals. It is the only way.
The drive towards transformation and black excellence has not been easy last year, but as challenging as it is, we must persevere. As we enter Human Rights month, we, as black business, need to celebrate the victories of our people despite the enormous challenges and obstacles we were forced to deal with during the pandemic last year.
I strongly believe that we can achieve anything if we put our minds to it - all it takes is discipline, commitment, passion and integrity. What we plant in the soil of our businesses is what we shall reap when we celebrate the uniqueness of our various brands.
Due to Covid, so much has changed and we have missed out on so much. One thing that we here at BBQ has missed big time is the opportunity to celebrate black business like we have over the past 22 years, with our BBQ Awards. Due to Covid-19 restrictions we were forced to put our glamorous event, the BBQ Awards on ice, but we cannot wait for when it is safe again to roll out the red carpet and in true BBQ style, celebrate black excellence again.
In the meantime, join our team and our black game changers in our upcoming issues as we discover their great stories, their achievements and the obstacles they face in the business world.
Let us all truly be all that we can this year. Let us also remain safe, sanitize, maintain social distancing and get vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.
I am ready. Are you?
(BBQ Project Manager)
The success of Rise Uniforms lies in serving the community
Ntombie Nonxuba grew up in the small Eastern Cape town of Sterkspruit, where her father “traded in almost everything you can think of” while her mother owned a small business manufacturing and selling church and school uniforms.
After passing matric, Ntombie achieved a National Diploma in Clothing Management in 2000. From 2001-2006 she worked for a clothing manufacturing company as a trainee manager and was promoted to production manager. From 2006 to 2013, she worked for the Cape Peninsula University of Technology as a technology advisor. In 2009 she graduated with a B-Tech degree and earned her Master’s in 2010. In 2007, while still formally employed, Ntombie founded Rise Uniforms.
Ntombie explains the vision behind the company: “From a young age I always wanted to own a clothing manufacturing company, but when I realised that most young girls and women are unemployed and depend on social grants, I took the decision to revisit my dream as it will not only benefit me but also make a huge difference in the community. I remembered my mother saying that when you teach someone a skill, you feed her for life; when you hand out, you are not helping that person. Hence Rise Uniforms is based in the location because we want the youth and unemployed women to actively take part in growing the economy of the country.”
Rise Uniforms is 100% black female owned with a BBEEE Level 1 rating and currently employs 46 people from the township. The core business is to manufacture, brand and supply PPE, corporate wear and school uniforms. A breakthrough came in 2014 with a Pick n Pay contract to supply staff uniforms nationally. In 2017 the company received funding for expansion. A second contract with Boxer Superstores followed in 2018, and in 2020, the company was awarded Best Business and Best Women Owned Business of the Year.
In Ntombie’s view, what sets Rise Uniforms apart from its competitors is that their customers can get a uniform uniquely designed with their corporate identity in mind.
“We provide a one-stop shop for your corporate, safety, uniforms and PPE. Our clients can focus on their core business and let us deal with their employee uniform needs. We will design, manufacture, and supply you with a complete branded product at your doorstep. Furthermore, 90% of our raw material is sourced and manufactured locally. Your buying our products helps us to create more jobs and sustain current jobs.”
To overcome challenges such as access to competent staff, markets and public sector procurement opportunities, Ntombie advises entrepreneurs to focus on building a skilled team as soon as possible. Steady growth is preferable to an all-or-nothing approach: “Focus on one big client and implement systems so that you don’t make mistakes that will be replicated and destroy your growing business.”
The public sector is potentially hazardous: “Supplying the public sector requires one to have enough funding to cover upfront costs. Rather consider naturally growing your business and establishing your brand before getting into tendering for big contracts. “
To would-be entrepreneurs, Ntombie offers the following advice:
“Focus on making a difference. Build a business for the benefit of the community. Find a problem to solve through your business. Take your team with you, allow them to make mistakes. Never stop learning (be a student for life) and accept criticism: real growth comes from mistakes, failures and being open to criticism.”.
Introducing a fabulous transit oriented lifestyle
Imagine modern South African cities where the lifestyle of the people is built around how they commute. Imagine integrated cities with seamless public commuting systems equal or even better than that of international world-class centres such as Hong Kong and Toronto.
A transit oriented lifestyle – that is the dream and ideal of Tshepo Kgobe, Chief Operating Officer for Gautrain Management Agency (GMA). It is also the mission of the agency to, in its quest to achieve this dream, burrow itself into the lifestyle of the people of Gauteng – and eventually the rest of South Africa.
According to Kgobe, GMA is currently implementing an approved strategy (which is modelled on the system in Toronto, Canada) that will bring Johannesburg, and the broader Gauteng, close to this amazing dream.
“We have just started a process of implementing our new strategy, which will make the Gautrain even much more user friendly. It will have more amenities that will benefit Gautrain users.
“The opportunity to start developing the strategy and ultimately, the fact that it was accepted by the Gautrain Board as the way forward in terms of how the organisation will change, has been a pleasure for me to create. Now we are excited about implementing the strategy,” he says.
Kgobe, whose job is also to manage the concession agreement for the operation of the Gautrain and take care of the expansion and the extensions of the system on behalf of the Gauteng Provincial Government, says, with the way that the pandemic has changed the world, it is now even more important that commuting systems are expanded and extended with that in mind.
“This means having the amenities that people require at the station – it is called transit oriented development. When you develop in and around the station in such a way, it will affect people’s lives. When I go about and ask especially young mothers why they would not take the Gautrain, they always say that the school run is in the opposite direction. But what if you could have the kindergarten at the station?
“And as the child grows, what if we build private schools into the station? And as the plan grows further, we could have a high school there and even eventually a boutique university. The bottom line is: if children know that this type of transport is part of their day, they will eventually become long-time supporters of the business because they have grown up commuting with their mothers taking the system every day. It is a very comprehensive lifestyle shift,” he says.
In this same space, he passionately throws in the idea of doing business in such venues and he envisions modern stations where people would be able to have meetings in designated meeting rooms, and even have lunch right there – without even having to leave the station.
“In many cities abroad the reasoning is that people do not want to live more than ten minutes away from any station and therefore their development is built around their transport, rather than in our case, where our transport is chasing the development, like we have always built.”
“The good news is that for the first time we now have a combined public transport plan or a combined transport plan as a whole. The growing Gauteng Together Through Smart Mobility Plan 2030 is a centralising plan and it not only centralises public transport, but also centralises how goods move in and around the city, how freight moves in and around the city, how we build up our roads and how the roads and the public transport inter-relate in such a way that they make sense.
“Public transport and personal transport should not divert from each other and exist in competing modes. In fact, they should actually complement each other,” he says.
According to Kgobe the GMA has had this vision for a while now, but the Covid-19 pandemic (and the way it has changed the way South Africa does business) has highlighted the relevance and importance of changing our current ways and lifestyle – all in the name of more convenient and seamless commuting.
“The strategy has been reorganised by the GMA before Covid-19 hit our shores. However, it was only in the middle of the mess that I realised that our plans will be much more important beyond Covid than what we had anticipated. It was a decision that I had taken much earlier. Covid merely showed us that we needed to have something like that system in the long term,” he told BBQ magazine.
But, Kgobe says even the system in Toronto has had its challenges and the new Gautrain system will be no different, with sustainability being top of the list.
“When we look at sustainability, it is not only about us. It is also about the people who are currently the users of the system. They are not the original sort of primary customer of the Gautrain, which used to be the people who drive cars.
“We have 11 000 parking bays and currently, at most, only 9% of bays are being used per day. That means there are 10 000 parking bays not in use. We are now at 28% of our previous ridership and our clientele is now a different market. This new market that has emerged in Gauteng are the young professionals, the inhabitants of these three level walk-ups that are being built all over the place. These people still need to commute to the office,” he says.
Therefore, he points out, it is key for the sustainability of the Gautrain, that the company builds itself to form part of this new customer – and, Kgobe says it is key that transport has to transcend itself from the utility to where it becomes a lifestyle product in a world where people’s lives revolve around their transport system.
Touching very closely on the issue of sustainability, is the question of mentorship and coaching, which lies very close to Kgobe’s heart. He believes that this kind of knowledge sharing is instrumental in ensuring a strong and knowledgeable future workforce and through that, contribute to sustainability in the industry. Sustainability, he believes, should be a joint responsibility between government and the private sector and that both should come together to for instance underpin what the GMA is doing.
“There are small things that can be done at a company and at a personal level to ensure sustainability. We have ample transport, but our biggest challenge is the logic of management. If it is required that everyone have to be at work at the same time, we are looking at overcrowding our commuting systems.
“There are simple things and flexible working policies that can be created by businesses, which will allow us to flatten the peak. That should not only be relevant now when we have to practice social distance, but in the long-term it will allow us to have a much more efficient system,” he says.
The road ahead for most businesses in South Africa is predicted to be long and certainly not without challenges and the GMA is not excluded from that – especially considering that tourism and the world of travel have been one of the hardest hit sectors during the pandemic.
Overall, Kgobe says, like most, the business is struggling to get itself where it was before the pandemic. Currently it is operating at 28% of its previous ridership and naturally it has put a strain on the company’s resources. Going forward, with social distancing in the picture, commuting companies will need to work smarter in order to maintain a reasonable profit margin.
Kgobe says when looking at how to navigate the future of the GMA, they embraced modern technology to add value to their company, its offerings and ultimately its users.
“We looked at the advancement of our apps in such a way that people can book a seat and determine what level of social distancing they want and the app will advise which train will suit their specific requirements. We also turned to technology to, in the long-term, help reduce the level of overcrowding.
“The pandemic has, on the positive side, pushed us to innovate quicker than we had planned. It has made us think differently about how the user of the system actually behaves and how can we build our businesses in such a way that we add value.
“The Gautrain is a safe system overall, but when we had to reopen the system, I had to think at the end degree of the detail by which people would want to be safe travelling on the system,” he says.
According to the dynamic COO, the biggest lesson that he has learnt from the pandemic is that one should not think short-term. His advice is to resolve the current problems, but at the same time also to think about how to use whatever we develop now, to enable businesses in the long-term to manage and create sustainability and resilience – something that he admits they have never looked at in the past.
“Everybody looks at sustainability, but resilience is the ability for you to bounce back as quickly as possible. It is nearly a year since the virus started its path of destruction. Yet some of the businesses have bounced back to their pre-Covid numbers. That is resilience. And it is one of those things that we have to build into the long-term play for how the GMA and its system is run.
“The view of what work is and what the world of work will become has changed. It is no more about people acquiring the big qualifications. You still need those, but one of the most important things is business resilience. Managing your talent within your business is a life-long learning process and there is so much we can still learn.
“With life-long learning people can change their careers and make their own careers sustainable. It is not only about the sustainability of the businesses, but also about the sustainability of the people – the professionals behind the businesses. And it all ties in with life-long learning,” Kgobe concludes.
Your partner in providing key defence solutions
The Armaments Corporation of South Africa SOC Limited (Armscor) is an acquisition agency for the South African Department of Defence. Its mandate is to provide armed forces with the state-of-the-art defence matériel required to provide safety and security for South Africa, its citizens and the continent. The organisation plays an important role in providing the defence forces with proper resources to execute their duties efficiently and effectively.
Armscor provides defence turnkey solutions and its research and development focusses on producing cutting-edge technology products. Its technologies have evolved from the defence sector to both commercial and domestic sectors. It has capabilities and skills to meet the needs of the changing global landscape.
Despite the changing socio-economic climate, Armscor remains committed to support peacekeeping efforts that ensure peace and stability in African economies, and strengthen relations that further boost the continent’s development agenda.
It has a proven track record of delivering on its mandate. Armscor has extensive experience in product development, technology development, enhancement, sustainment and disposal of products. The organisation has world-class facilities that can be used by both local and international clients to test and evaluate the performance of their defence and security related products. Armscor prides itself on maintaining high-quality international standards through rigorous testing and evaluation processes on all its technology management projects.
Armscor’s CEO, Advocate Solomzi Mbada, says Armscor is committed to driving creativity and innovation in collaboration with strategic partners. In line with its strategic objective of trade both in the SADC and BRICS zones, the organisation also provides marketing support to the South African Defence Industry (SADI).
Armscor’s Core Business is acquisitions, research and development and naval dockyard.
“Armscor’s acquisition role includes requirements analysis, technology development, design and development of products and product systems, the industrialisation and manufacturing of mature products and product systems that fully meet the stated user requirements. It also entails procurement of existing and qualified products, as well as the acquisition of product system support for user systems during the operational lifetime of the systems,” according to Mbada.
The acquisition unit provides cost-effective and safe procurement of product systems and logistic support that creates defence capability. Some of the highlights include:
Research and development
Through research and development, Armscor is able to conduct defence research and scientific research, test and evaluation services, technology management, analysis and industrialisation and intellectual property management services. The organisation has the capability to perform an independent, centralised co-ordination and management role for technology acquisition and technology commercialisation.
Some of its research and development facilities include the Gerotek Test Facility, the Alkantpan Test Range, the Institute for Maritime Technology, Protechnik Laboratories, Hazmat, ERGOnomics TECHnologies and the Defence Decision Support Institute (DDSI).
1. The Gerotek Test Facility: This facility is located in Gauteng, about 20 kilometres west of Pretoria. Gerotek has the ability to test and evaluate the performance of vehicles in terms of speed, braking, fuel consumption, acceleration and power output. Mobility tests are conducted to measure off-road mobility, step climbing, gradient ability and ditch crossing. Furthermore, homologation tests are conducted to determine a centre of gravity, speedometer calibration, stationary noise and brakes performance. These state-of-the-art tracks are able to determine both endurance and reliability of vehicles irrespective of size. A wide range of test measurements such as strain, temperature, vibration, pressure and displacement can be supported from the instrumentation to data processing phase.
Gerotek is an ISO17025 international accredited test facility providing repeatable, scientific vehicle and product testing services to the industry. This is an indication that Gerotek is competent to conduct testing and results generated are valid and reliable. It is also evidence that this facility conforms to the international standards with regards to testing and sampling. The facility offers testing support services in the form of test planning, import and export of test vehicles and equipment, providing workshops and accompanying test teams. Gerotek test teams consists of highly motivated, qualified engineers and technicians. They possess many years of testing experience. Services offered include:
2. The Alkantpan Test Range: Located outside Prieska in the Northern Cape, the range is an end-to-end service for clients who want to test and evaluate their weapons and ammunition. It has six test sites and a demolition site suitable to accommodate various sizes of weapons and ammunition. The range is about 67 kilometres in length and 15 kilometres wide. It is located in a sparsely populated semi desert area. Alkantpan offers more than just ballistic test services. From the landing strip, ammunition assembly, firing sites to the end results of the test analysis – all is possible at Alkantpan. Alkantpan has firing sites designed to protect personnel and equipment against any catastrophic failure of the weapon or ammunition. Well-equipped assembly, machines and electronic workshops cater for most maintenance and repair requirements. Weapons, ammunition, spares and equipment can be stored under tight security according to clients’ requirements. The Alkantpan Test Range is a strategic ISO 9001 all-purpose ballistic test range for medium to large calibre weapons and ammunition. Various related tests are also catered for, like insensitive munitions, hazard classification, ageing and surveillance trails. Alkantpan also offers import and export assistance including end-user certificates, and can assists with transport arrangements as well as accommodation, vehicle rental and other logistical arrangements.
The instrumentation personnel provide a wide variety of measurements including:
3. The Institute for Maritime Technology (IMT): The facility is a multi-disciplinary ISO 9001 2015 division specialising in techno-military research and development, as well as specialised products and services. IMT provides services to the South African National Defence Force (primarily to the SA Navy), government departments, defence industry, the broader maritime community and other clients as part of its commercial initiatives. Through the combined expertise and dedication of professional staff, IMT today provides a techno-scientific foundation for the exploration, conceptualisation, improvement, modernisation, in-service engineering, and maintenance of systems that ensure that the SA Navy accomplishes its national maritime role and responsibilities in an optimum manner. The facilities at IMT include two large acoustic test tanks, acoustic and magnetic measurement facilities, radar and infrared evaluation ranges, small survey vessels, mechanical and electronic laboratories, as well as a library specializing in maritime subjects.
Some of IMT’s signature projects include:
marine wildlife. It creates a barrier that separates bathers from sharks without harming or killing them.
4. Protechnik Laboratories: This division is a strategic facility within the Research and Development Department at Armscor. It is an applied chemistry or biochemistry facility with a primary focus on chemical and biological research. Biomedical studies are undertaken focussing on characterisation and identification techniques for biological warfare agents. It provides technical support under contract to the South African Council for the Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction on technical aspects related to the implementation of the chemical weapons convention.
Specialised fields of research include:
5. Hazmat: Situated in Centurion in Gauteng, Hazmat manufactures and markets a comprehensive range of filter cartridges, canisters, half and full face masks to protect individuals against respiratory health hazards. It also manufactures impregnated activated carbon, which is used as one of the primary filter materials in the manufacturing of air-purifying respiratory filters. Hazmat has a state-of-the-art carbon impregnation plant that provides it with a competitive advantage in the manufacturing of respiratory filters. These products are suitable for both military and commercial sectors. Commercial canisters and cartridges are currently manufactured and benefit the workforce of companies and individuals in the mining, industrial, chemical, agricultural and private sectors. All respiratory products are approved (homologated) by the National Regulator of Compulsory Standards (NRCS).
6. ERGOnomics TECHnologies (ERGOTECH): This ergonomics consultancy has provided a comprehensive and efficient service in ergonomics and occupational health and safety, both locally and internationally, for more than two decades. ERGOTECH functions as a team of interdisciplinary qualified specialists with vast experience in applied ergonomics for military and commercial clients. People are the most vital component in any operation and therefore ERGOTECH aims to provide ergonomics solutions to optimise human performance, reduce work-related risks, and improve overall productivity.
The services provided by ERGOTECH are divided into three interlinked domains: research and databases, design and specifications and test and evaluation.
7. The Defence Decision Support Institute (DDSI): The institute renders defence analysis, engineering support, decision support, operational research and capability analysis services to defence practitioners in the Department of Defence and Military Veterans, focussing on the high system levels (level 5+) over the total life cycle of defence capabilities. The DDSI comprises a team of scientists, engineers and operational specialists that renders a broad range of services, described below. The scope of services includes, but are not limited to:
Making group schemes insurance simple
Founded in 2015 by husband and wife team, Keneiloe and Jerry Motea, Gavanni Group Schemes, a proudly black-owned administrative and consulting organisation, boasts years of experience in the funeral insurance administration industry.
Jerry Motea, the company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), says the plan is to become a superlative and unparalleled industry player, pioneering the group schemes administration industry by offering tailored products, services and support to their valued clients. He says that he is proud to have experienced personnel who are eager and ready to assist with factual advise and cater for each of their clients’ needs.
Partnering with industry leading underwriters, Gavanni provides tailored solutions to group schemes administration and underwriting in order for their clients to enjoy the benefits of personalised service and solutions centric relations, which are customised to each client based on their needs.
BBQ magazine caught up with Motea, who gave us the inside scoop on his company’s success story.
Where does the name Gavanni come from?
Gavanni is a family business. The name is a combination of our two sons’ names, Gabriel and Giovanni.
Please share with us the history of Gavanni Group Schemes. When was the company started and which areas in South Africa do you predominantly work in?
Gavanni was established in 2015. However, we did not fully find expression in insurance until towards the end of 2019, when we rebranded and identified our target market within group schemes and defined our market positioning. Gavanni is based in Greenstone, Johannesburg, with more than 200 clients nationwide in all nine provinces.
Why did you decide to start this specific business?
Traditional underwriters and administrators lacked providing tailored and personalised service. They make use of old school rate card underwriting with little to no personal touch. We believe that no two clients are the same, and so we are proficient in providing a tailored specific approach to each of our independent schemes. We started this business to provide undeniable professional service to what has been previously deemed the “informal business” of funeral insurance.
What is your company’s vision?
We want to pioneer the funeral group schemes insurance industry by rebranding the “hearse’s and bodies” to professional stakeholders and stalwarts that contribute handsomely to the long-term insurance fraternity. The intention is to establish a black, youth-owned insurance company that will successfully marry insurance ethics with our cultural ethos as a people of South Africa. We need to simplify insurance and make it palatable to the less-insured communities.
What gives Gavanni Group Schemes the edge?
Our young, vibrant and energetic team of dedicated individuals that go beyond the call of duty to service our clients gives Gavanni the edge.
What sets your company apart from its competitors?
We pride ourselves on delivering tailored support and a fresh, unparalleled underwriting experience.
Why should people choose Gavanni above another company?
We guarantee fast claims pay-outs, competitive rates, and advanced systems for policy and claims management. Furthermore, our clients can expect favourable client service support and skills development and training support.
Gavanni is a proudly black-owned administrative and consulting organisation which seeks to become a big industry player, pioneering the group schemes administration industry. How are you going to reach this goal?
We intend to always put our best foot forward in servicing our clients – big or small. By providing access to information and technologies that further enhance our service offering without discrimination of the size of the book, we will make our mark in industry. We will not compromise on any limitations in our products or services and we will go beyond the call of duty each and every time, without fail.
Who should be interested in your services?
Groups that will mostly benefit from our offering would include financial service providers, employers (HR and benefits personnel), funeral service providers, church groups and burial societies.
Please talk to us about the biggest challenges in your industry for companies such as yours.
One of the biggest challenges is educating policyholders and the general public of the importance of insuring themselves and their loved ones, should the inevitable occur. The larger South African population does not have access to a rainy-day fund of let’s say R10 000 in the event of the loss of a loved one, but getting cover from a local underwriting financial service provider or through their employer can ensure a dignified send-off in the event of death. In some cases a cash benefit is also included in the policy to help ease the burden of losing a bread winner.
What are the biggest benefits of group schemes such as what Gavanni provide?
Insuring and or underwriting your policyholders in a compulsory or non-compulsory friendly society, group scheme or employee scheme, provides you with peace of mind that your policy holders are covered in the event of death. It provides you with security against insurance risk at claims stage.
How has Covid-19 affected your business?
The pandemic has affected our business, more especially in the second wave due to the high mortality rate we have experienced as a country and against the insured. We were at the forefront of high claim volumes and had to beef up on service levels as well as infrastructure from our claims department, ensuring that we take heed of the call by the Ministry Of Health as well as Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs to empower our clients with the benefits due, so that they could afford a burial within the restricted timelines due to Covid-19. We have however seen a surge in interest of uninsured parties who now recognise the importance of funeral cover and scaled at tremendous volumes in line with such. We believe that by surviving the first and second wave of Covid-19, our business is stronger and more fierce in facing the inevitable head on.