The Branson Centre is propelling
small businesses into
the big time...
Entrepreneur: Sibongile Thafeni
|"A bakery supplier that’s
giving power to the people..."
|Meet the maker:
When it comes to being an inspiring entrepreneur,
bakery industry maverick Sibongile Thafeni rises
to the occasion. She’s single-handedly taking on
the big monopolies in her industry, fighting the
corner of the small business person and creating a
She’s already won a competition aiming to
support and grow new businesses in Africa,
giving her R35,000 of business support and R75,000
of seed capital. Now it’s time to put that dough to
good use, growing her business and maximising
|The golden opportunity:
Small independent bakers in South Africa are
getting a raw deal from big established milling
companies, that hold a monopoly over the sector.
Sibongile is changing all that. She knows there’s
strength in numbers. So she’s formed a network
of small bakers. She then supplies and distributes
their key ingredient (currently flour, though later
she’ll widen her range). The network doesn’t
guarantee cheaper prices, but it does give small
bakers more buying influence and better service.
Ultimately, it gives smaller operators more power
to make decisions in their interest rather than
being at the mercy of the big millers.
The next stage for Kotulo Milling is to generate
income through two sources - the network
membership and the distribution of flour at a
mark-up to the members. Members can agree to
purchase a minimum quantity of flour to maintain
their membership in the network and continue to
reap the rewards.
Sibongile can set up storage facilities in the areas
where she will be operating. Her suppliers will
deliver to these facilities and from there she will
distribute to her customers.
Initially, she’ll use her own truck and other
subcontractors for distribution but, within a year,
she anticipates leasing trucks for the company
and employing drivers and additional distribution
She knows that delivering amazing customer
service is key to winning and retaining business,
so a call centre will also be established to look
after her customers, the members of the network
and the suppliers.
||Entrepreneurial spirit flows
in Sibongile’s blood
How it’s helping the community:
Sibongile is giving ‘power to the people’. Her
network is empowering small bakers to increase
their buying power and get a better service.
Moreover, Sibongile’s business is creating jobs
and boosting her local economy. In the next year,
with the right mentoring and financial support
she could employ a minimum of 10 people.
The future looks bright:
Sibongile’s vision is to evolve her business into a
large company that employs many people. She’s
passionate about creating an environment where
staff can continuously challenge themselves and
take the company to new heights.
Her customers stand to benefit too. She plans
to grow the company to a point where her
customers purchase more than a hundred tonnes
of flour per month. She will then have the option
of choosing to establish her own milling plant or
continuing to negotiate with suppliers, but from
a position of real strength and influence.
|How can you help:
Sibongile would appreciate advice on a number
- Establishing trust with suppliers and
customers and as an established company,
despite currently lacking a fixed office and
- Meeting demand, as she has already begun
taking orders before discussions with
potential suppliers have been finalised
- Ensuring cost-effective distribution
- Ensuring effective recruitment and
- Ensuring effective operation and
management systems for her business’s
- Have some tips? Then emai them to: email@example.com
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