About eight years ago, a colleague and I attended the opening of a township-based internet training centre; it sounded like something different and we were interested in hearing more. It was a small gathering, with only a few members of the press, and we were able to chat personally with the founder, who inspired us with his story. Today, there are few people in the entrepreneurship space, if not African context, who are not familiar with Luvuyo Rani – a South African visionary and award-winning social entrepreneur; co-founder and managing director of Silulo Ulutho Technologies, an internet café turned one-stop-shop IT franchise company with 36 branches and growing.
We got to chat to Rani again this issue, focusing on his funding journey in particular, and I was struck by his comment that “innovation was key from the start”. He said that he realised that few township teachers were in a position to buy computers outright, and so he would encourage them to get together to form a type of stokvel, and within six months each would have their own computer. “It was peer-to-peer lending in true African style,” he says. Also in this issue, Tracy Scott defines innovation as thinking differently… changing your world view to approach problem solving from a broader perspective. While Rani may not have viewed his insight as “rocket science”; presenting an alternative solution to his audience’s affordability may well have just been a game changer for his business’s growth. Innovation is a word that’s bandied about far too much, but getting to grips with how you can practically achieve a more open mindset, as well as encourage it within your team members, is critical in today’s competitive marketplace.
As always, we have a range of articles to help you with the day-to-day management of your business, from setting yourself up for e-commerce, putting the spotlight on modern SME payment methods, to doing your own performance review, and making the most of training opportunities. We also have some exciting opportunities across our feature sectors which include B2B and home services, as well as the growing ice cream industry… need I say more?
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