Learnership delivers far more than expected for SMME owner

EduPower’s unique learnership model helps business owner unlock growth potential

Nokwanda Sibisi has an immense determination to succeed and at just 27 years old, she already owns two small companies. However, she has realised that she has more to learn to fulfil her burning desire to grow her businesses, so she has enrolled for a learnership at EduPower Skills Academy, a decision that is already delivering positive returns.

“I applied and was accepted for a National Certificate: Contact Centre and Business Process Outsourcing Support NQF level 3 at EduPower,” says Nokwanda. “While the qualification is not directly related to my businesses and products, I am so happy that I made this decision as I am learning about small business practices that I can immediately apply.”

Nokwanda says her passion to be an entrepreneur was ignited when she was still at school. Originally from Estcourt, she lost her mother at an early age and was taken in by her aunt where she was raised with her cousins. “My drive comes from being told by my cousins that I wasn’t smart and that I would never succeed at anything but I am determined to prove them wrong,” she shares.

Building her Businesses

Drawn by the promise of bigger and better opportunities, Nokwanda moved to Durban after school, even though she didn’t have any family or friends living there. As soon as she settled, she started researching how to make perfume and her first business was born.

“I learned so much in a short space of time and my little business took off. It was incredible and I couldn’t believe that I was doing so well, but then COVID hit and almost overnight, the demand dried up,” she recalls. However, Nokwanda refused to give up.

She regrouped and started from scratch, using the lessons learned from her first company to start two new businesses, one that offers organic skincare products and the other detergents. She bottles and packages the products at home and either delivers her goods in person or uses a courier and collection system offered by one of the major retailers.

Small Business Development Unit

Nokwanda says that she couldn’t believe her luck when she landed a learnership at EduPower, as the Academy offers so much more than an occupational qualification.

“The Academy is very serious about developing its learners’ business skills and we work on these every day as they are integrated into the work experience component of the learnership,” she explains. “But the biggest help for me has been EduPower’s Small Business Development Unit.”

Unique among South Africa’s training providers, this unit is dedicated to helping the Academy’s learners set up and grow their own businesses and develop business skills during the 12-month learnership. Mentored by the head of the unit, Mcebo Gwala, Nokwanda says that EduPower has helped her to understand what it takes to build a successful and sustainable company. “While EduPower has given me a far better understanding of business, it’s the practical support that it has provided that has really given my businesses a boost,” she adds. “From assisting me with marketing and branding to attract more business to providing guidance on how to seek funding from financial institutions and agencies, EduPower has even provided storage space for my products.”

This assistance has helped Nokwanda build her businesses and prepared her for the next step, which will unlock even more growth opportunities. Nokwanda says that thanks to EduPower’s mentorship, her dream now is to take her small businesses to the next level and beyond by marketing and distributing to wholesalers. “Undertaking this learnership has given me so much more than I ever dreamed possible and EduPower has been the conduit that has made it all possible,” she concludes.

Stay informed

Get our monthly email guide for the latest B-BBEE thought leadership articles, reports and analysis.