Inspired by her passion for development and entrepreneurship, in 2019 she decided to leave her full-time employment to start a business that set to pave a runway for small businesses to take-off. Her 10 years of experience in advertising and business development was a perfect foundation for her business idea.
The aim was to give a platform where entrepreneurs could meet potential customers and network with other fellow entrepreneurs. It took months of planning and organising – with multiple hurdles along the way but Gcina Madonsela pushed on. The focus was not quantity but more on quality and synergy – having people that needed each other to increase value for all participants. In February 2020, Small Business Runway (SBR) hosted its first business expo at Gallagher Conference Centre. It was a phenomenal success – from the calibre of guest speakers, stakeholders, and exhibitors. Just as the business was celebrating being on the right path, having had successful workshops during the expo and facilitated significant trade for small businesses who’d exhibited – COVID hit the world!
“It was such a blow!” Gcina recalls. “The question now was how do we continue to add value under these restrictions that were not only unpredictable but also had such devastating realities for the very entrepreneurs we were working with?”
The 1800+ entrepreneurs who’d attended the expo were in desperate need for support. Gcina tapped into her network and started hosting live sessions on Instagram with guests like business expert, Vusi Thembekwayo, economist, Ndumiso Hadebe and many more. During these sessions it became apparent that entrepreneurs needed coaching on activating sales using social media, Whatsapp and email. SBR started offering weekly business Sales & Social Media coaching for entrepreneurs via Zoom.
The business has since grown, now with three key components…
Through Business Runway Academy, training is offered to people who are unemployed and are interested in starting a business. Trainings are packaged as a series with a focus on how to set up specific type of business, if it’s setting up a home-baking business – an entrepreneur already thriving in such a business puts together a How-To training series, guided and produced by the academy. Trainings are available for SBR members on www.businessrunway.co.za . The academy also offers their members access to coaches and mentors to guide on issues such as marketing, sales and finance.
SBR advocates for automation and digitisation in small businesses. They collaboration with IT Varsity helps them activate this business unit.
Some entrepreneurs have the talent, technical expertise and products but are challenged when it comes to finding clients and/or collaborative partnerships. Small Business Runway helps their clients with access to potential customers.
One such SBR client, is Lebo Morgan, founder of Modice Creation who, after an introduction facilitated by Gcina and her team, became a supplier to Kiddies Republic .
Morgan, an entrepreneur who started out making clothes from her bedroom, remembers how she was in total disbelief when she got a call from a person who introduced herself as a buyer from the Drip Group and said she’d seen her presentation during the SBR expo a couple of weeks before.
Small Business Runway offers opportunities for networking and teaches entrepreneurs to leverage their social network in a healthy and mutually beneficial way. Leading by example, as that’s SBR has been with its long-standing partner, IT Varsity, founded by Bilal Kathrada.
Through this partnership SBR is able to offer IT related training to its members – from coding, app development to creating a fully-fledged e-commerce website. As such, in line with their advocacy for digitisation, as from February 2023, members (customers) of Small Business Runway will be accessing its various services via an app – which will be available on Playstore and Applestore.
Gcina sees entrepreneurship as a movement and an answer to South Africa’s economic challenges. She cites lack of collaborative effort between government and corporate to mitigate challenges for small businesses – such as availing venues for development programs and being proactive about minimising red-tape to allow easier access to procurement opportunities.
SBR advocacy is propelled forward daily through it various services as well as the weekly SBR podcast, hosted by Gcina where she features and profiles small business owners. The podcast is available on https://www.youtube.com/@runwaypodcast/videos
Ndumi Hadebe is the author of Handle Black Tax Like – Setting Boundaries, Improving Relationships and Achieving freedom.
With more than a decade of corporate experience and another as an entrepreneur, she lives her passion through her coaching business, Kwande Consulting – where she and a team of specialist- coaches support corporate teams and executives with coaching programs that are geared towards bridging efficiency and productivity gaps.
She’s also a facilitator and speaker on topics such as Boundaries = Self-Love, Boundaries for Productivity, Boundaries for Goals and Handling Black Tax Like a Pro. www.ndumihadebe.co.za