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The Box Project was set up to assist with the start-up and ongoing day-to-day operations of South African small businesses. Our Boxwood view is one of sustainable job creation, with the aim to contribute towards the entrepreneurial capacity of small businesses in and around Cape Town. Our goal is to draw on our combined skills and experience and utilize the networks and resources available to us to ensure these businesses are successful in getting up and running.

Our partnership with Phaphama SEDI is an important part of this project.

Phaphama is a non-profit organization that was started by a group of UCT students with the aim to increase the entrepreneurial capacity of small businesses in the Khayelitsha and Philippi area by connecting them with a consulting team of senior UCT students. Each entrepreneur is teamed for the entirety of the programme with three student consultants. These groups, comprising of diverse academic backgrounds and skill sets, mean that each business owner will receive consistent and specialised attention throughout the year, in addition to the overarching skills-building training they will receive in the module workshops.

Boxwood, after having experience as a consultant with the organisation, identified a need for seed funding and network exposure for the entrepreneurs enrolled in the program.

This led to an annual Lion’s Den event hosted by Boxwood. This year, twenty-three entrepreneurs submitted business plans and pitched their business cases and seed funding requirements for a chance to win their share of a R100,000 prize pool. The event kicked off with an inspirational talk by Boxwood Chairman, John Oliphant and the pitches were adjudicated by a panel of three judges comprising Boxwood CEO Rob Kane, entrepreneur Thembalethu Hadebe, and Phaphama Board member Pam Sneddon.

Once the pitches were concluded, the scores were compiled and the winners of the various categories were announced.

Amongst the winners were Loyiso Mbambo, co-founder of Mzizi-Roots, a premier private transport and tour company that specialises in chauffeur services for airport transfers, events and tours. With the prize money, Loyiso will be registering his business as a private company through GovChain and purchasing new business phones to ensure effective communication with clients.

Beauty Balangile, owner of Gia Grazie, won 1st prize for “best pitch” and 2nd prize for “overall business plan”. She offers a one-of-a-kind fashion experience that combines African heritage, modern trends and personalized designs. With her winnings, she aims to move to a bigger container in Philippi village. She will be installing shelving and rails to store her fabrics and equipment. She will also employ additional staff to assist her in the production.

The success of the collaboration between Boxwood and Phaphama SEDI is an example of a sustainable model for providing funding to promising small business owners and a small step towards fighting the unemployment battle in our country.

Give someone a fish and you feed them for a day; teach someone to fish and you feed them for a lifetime

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