“Building businesses are important; sustaining and moving them forward is even more important.” These were the opening words from Justin Asher, Chief Operating Officer (COO) from Picup Technologies and Programme Director at the SMME Opportunity Roadshow that took place in Cape Town last week at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC).

During this leg of the Roadshow, entrepreneurs from across the Western Cape shared lessons and had an opportunity to network with each other to gain insights on how best to take their businesses to the next level. With successful Roadshows already completed in Gauteng and Port Elizabeth, the next one is taking place in Durban on 15 November.

Keynote speaker, Sihle Tshabalala, Co-Founder and CEO of Quircky 30 NPC and Quircky Innovations (Pty) Ltd enthralled the delegates and had them hanging on his lips with his quick wit as he shared his incredible entrepreneurship story. Tshabalala, a convicted felon, served eleven years in prison for business robberies and heists.  As an incredibly intelligent youngster, having started school at four and matriculated at the age of 16, he had no ambition to further his studies. He got involved in the wrong crowd and so was drawn into the life of crime. His entrepreneurial journey started when he was in prison, where he sold marijuana! He had quite a sophisticated supply chain, he explains. He says, tongue in cheek, that our prisons are full of entrepreneurs. Criminals have a natural talent for hustling, courage to take risks and they know how to network.  They have just chosen crime, which is the wrong product, says Tshabalala. When he was released from prison he taught himself three different computer languages in six weeks. Today he trains youngsters who have dropped out of schools, single moms and others who have no means to further their education how to code.  Tshabalala is now a thriving businessman on the right side of the law.

Other topics during the morning included an explanation of what the Competition Commission does and the fascinating work of the Sheltered Employment Factories who empower people living with disabilities to make furniture for both office and home use.  The support provided to entrepreneurs by the City of Cape Town, The Hope Factory and Thomson Reuters were also topics of discussion. Procurement, tendering, marketing and advertising also added to the dialogue.

“Through this SMME Opportunity Roadshow we are endeavouring to reach out to as many entrepreneurs that we can. Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and it is important that we give them as much support and guidance as we can,” says Robert Arendse, Managing Director of Cape Media, organisers of the SMME Opportunity Roadshow. “We are thrilled with the turnout and the networking platform that has been created to link businesses so that lessons learnt can be shared widely,” adds Arendse.

The final leg of the SMME Opportunity Roadshow is taking place in Durban on 15 November at the Durban ICC. For more information, visit http://www.smmesa.co.za or contact Bev beverley@capemedia.co.za | 021 681 7000

If you can’t be at the venue, don’t miss out: watch the live stream on http://www.capemedia.tv/. You can also join the discussion on Twitter @SMME_Roadshow #SMME2017 and on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/smmeor.