“Songo” means ‘essence’ in IsiXhosa
In October 2018, we embarked on our annual campaign aimed at sharing the visions of the SME business owners of South Africa. With our video out in the real world and gaining traction, we wanted to add further value for our clients and small business owners in South Africa.
Often we find that in the process of turning dreams into reality, it goes with a journey. As business owners ourselves, we understand the challenges most entrepreneurs experience on their road to success and that they will encounter their share of roadblocks in the first few months. This proved to be right when 2500 South African Entrepreneurs were eager to share theirs.
Over the 6 months we joined them on their highs and lows to meet our winner, Songo Didiza, from Green Build Design Group!
Songo, the flagbearer for SME entrepreneurs, has built her business through aligning the public and private sector with government green economic strategies. Since she founded GreenBDG, they have assisted large multinationals on their broad-based environmental empowerment strategies.
Her enthusiasm and dedication to the planet, our country and the SME sector is true to the spirit of every business owner as she is personally driven to making a difference on a local and macro scale.
THE EARLY DAYS
We know that running a business is not a walk in the park and business owners sometimes find themselves uninspired and tired.
“Starting this business has taken a lot of strain – physically, mentally and financially. Initially I struggled with communicating our business model to potential clients and this also had a huge negative impact on our cash flow and my personal credibility. Started falling behind on my credit liabilities. It has been a tough couple of years but I am now starting to bear the fruits of that pain and sweat. And the sweet end of that story I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world because it taught me everything I had to learn about entrepreneurship.” – Songo Didiza
The key is to truly celebrate the successes and milestones in between the challenges. Most business owners are literally going from the one battle to the other without celebrating any victories.
“Some of the key successes have been the ability to develop tailor made solutions for clients. My highlight was being voted Energy Innovation of the Year by the Southern African Energy Efficiency Confederation.” – Songo Didiza
The largest part of the journey is often keeping your eye on the horizon. Sometimes you move forward, and sometimes backward – the most important part of living your vision is just to keep moving.
“My vision is to see Africa lead the rest of the world in sustainable energy innovation, and what excited me most is that this is already starting to happen in some parts”. – Songo Didiza
Songo has just returned from London where she completed the LSE course ‘Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the Age of Change’. “I gained access to a global network of entrepreneurs and knowledge tools. By the end of the course I had gained insights on how to scale-up our business operations in other countries outside of South Africa, which is very exciting!” Says Songo.
Since 2011, we have provided businesses with innovative, flexible and convenient alternatives to traditional business loans. Business owners still identify access to working capital as the single biggest challenge that they are faced with. Being responsible for 50% of the country’s GDP and contributing to over 65% of employment, we are devoted to partnering with small to medium-sized businesses to grow the South African economy. This is where we can help and we are proud to have partnered with more than 5000 SMEs in providing funding of more than R1.25 billion to date.