Entrepreneurship In Action

The Hope Factory

On June 4th The Hope Factory showcased the way it is contributing to entrepreneurial development at its annual Stakeholder Appreciation Day.

The Hope Factory is an established Enterprise Development organisation associated with the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA). It mentors and trains potential black entrepreneurs to develop life and business skills in order to create new businesses (Socio Economic Development) and equips black entrepreneurs with skills to grow their existing businesses (Enterprise Development).The event, held in Johannesburg for the first time this year, was an opportunity for funders to experience specifically how their Enterprise Development (ED) contributions are making a difference in the lives of entrepreneurs.

At the function, the various investors were able to meet the 22 entrepreneurs selected from the greater Johannesburg area who are part of The Hope Factory’s newly-launched Johannesburg Entrepreneur Support Programme. These small business owners displayed their products and services in a mini expo and had the chance to interact with representatives from the organisations who have helped to fund their development through their contributions.

According to Annie McWalter, CEO of The Hope Factory, many ED initiatives focus only on top high-growth enterprises, which may benefit a limited number of people. She says, “We believe in a multi-pronged approach which focuses on the emergent entrepreneur and different levels of small businesses.”

“Starting and growing an entrepreneurial business is a difficult and often lonely road. Our programmes all include a large mentoring component where we walk the business journey with our entrepreneurs. However, these programmes would not be possible without the support of our funders who give their enterprise development funds to support this work.”

Over the past 12 years more than 1000 people have completed The Hope Factory’s programmes thanks to enterprise development investments from numerous companies nationally. According to previous research undertaken over a 3 year period, more than 76% of these Hope Factory graduates are still financially sustainable.

International scenario expert Clem Sunter, the guest speaker at today’s event, believes that encouraging and developing entrepreneurs in South Africa is vital. He says, “If we can create a culture of entrepreneurship in South Africa, underpinned by a supportive environment, we could see the formation of one million new businesses by 2020. This in turn could help to create five million new jobs. The work that The Hope Factory is doing – in helping start-ups to develop and grow their businesses – is a good example of such a supportive environment.”

Karl Kumbier, Chief Executive Officer of Mercantile Bank, one of The Hope Factory’s funders says, “We are delighted to be associated with The Hope Factory as, like them, we also believe that entrepreneurial development is vital for the future of South Africa. This was one of the key reasons why we signed a three-year agreement with The Hope Factory in December 2012, to be their exclusive banking sponsor for their Johannesburg programme.

“The Johannesburg programme will primarily focus on operating entrepreneurs, giving them guidance and support to help them grow their businesses. This has great alignment with Mercantile’s target market of owner-managed businesses. Our contribution will not only be financial in nature, but we will also provide support in terms of guidance from a group of internal content experts. For the Bank, this affords us a great opportunity to support an initiative that not only creates awareness of the brand and what Mercantile Bank is all about, but also allows us to make a lasting difference to the lives of the entrepreneurs we help develop.”

“By investing in The Hope Factory, you are assured, through our past track record and through consistent management and monitoring by SAICA (South African Institute of Chartered Accountants) that your investment will result in empowered, productive entrepreneurs,” concludes McWalter.