Siyazizwa credits new-found strength and resilience to Seriti ESD programme
Siyazizwa Investments Holdings, an artisan training provider, is a more resilient business since completing the Seriti Enterprise and Supplier Development (ESD) Programme, and is now geared for growth and profitability.
Siyazizwa Investments Holdings is a SETA-accredited artisan training provider that is based in Sasolburg, in the Free State Province. The company was established in 2012, and is currently run by Managing Director Ricardo Hood, who recently took over the company from his father. The company employs eight people and provides training to companies such as Seriti Coal and Sasol, which conduct annual skills programmes for members of local communities. Typically, these initiatives see 20 people receiving practical training in the fields of mechanical and electrical engineering, over a six-month period. The company’s revenue model is project-based and cyclical, meaning that it secures contracts at the beginning of the year and implements them over six months. Thereafter, the company starts planning and strategising for the following year’s cycle. Siyazizwa recently acquired another company, which has allowed it to expand into small-scale engineering and manufacturing work. The company’s accreditation and equipment allow it to take on small projects, but it plans to eventually scale this up. Importantly, this created an additional revenue stream for the company.
The years 2020/21 proved to be a huge challenge for Siyazizwa Investments Holdings, with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown. Its project-based revenue model became unsustainable and the company recognised that it would have to unlock additional revenue streams to remain operational. With plans to expand into manufacturing and engineering work, Hood realised that the business would benefit from upskilling its staff in order to unlock more opportunities from corporates within the B2B manufacturing and artisan training spheres. The business was also struggling financially, as its project-based revenue model required it to stretch its cyclical earnings over an entire financial year.
Siyazizwa Investments Holdings applied and was selected to participate in the Seriti ESD Programme in 2020. The programme identified Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) in the specified local communities in which Seriti Coal operates. Zevoli Growth Partners was appointed to develop and implement the ESD programme, in line with Seriti’s commitment to support local SMMEs in acquiring essential business skills needed to expand their operating capacity. The ESD programme was a capacity and capability building and mentorship initiative, held between February and July 2021. The structured mentorship and training programme were aimed at helping SMMEs improve their operational efficiency, expand market share, grow strategically and align to a level of sustainability. Several problem areas within Siyazizwa were identified, most crucially the company’s inadequate levels of financial controls and its lack of skills to effectively manage cashflow. The company is also structured with market penetration in terms of attracting students for artisan training, as well as market access to more corporate opportunities in the training and manufacturing areas. The company received extensive training in marketing, financial management, sales and people management, and was equipped with a project management software system. Training was conducted through the ESD programme’s Mentorship and Coaching, Business Growth Learning Programme and Digital Marketing modules.
Siyazizwa reports that it learned about labour and workplace practices and procedures that enabled it to put relevant policies in place. This led to an improvement in its human resources and hiring procedures, enabling the company to identify and secure better quality candidates. The company has also been able to tighten its financial controls and manage its budget better since completing the programme. The training it received in marketing has enabled the company to effectively leverage social media to reach its desired target market. Importantly, it is now able to submit better proposals to secure work and was also able to extend a contract with an existing customer that seemed unlikely to be extended last year. The company is also confident that it will secure at least two new corporate clients in the short term. Hood credits the Seriti ESD programme with making Siyazizwa more resilient as a business and feels that the company is ready to grow.