Gcobani Ndabeni

Gcobani Ndabeni“My name is Gcobani Ndabeni. I regard myself as a die-hard supporter of entrepreneurs, which I provide by being a fan, since I have great respect for entrepreneurs for being brave enough to risk their hard-earned cash by investing it in businesses where there are no guaranteed returns (to me this is remarkable); and by sharing my business knowledge and skills with them with the intention of adding value to their businesses and enabling them to succeed.

“I do all this because of the passion I have for small business. I spent 12 years of my life working in the SMME sector.

“I studied B Com at the former University of Transkei (now known as Walter Sisulu University) in Umthatha from 1995 to 1997 with the intention of becoming an accountant. Little did I know that my interest will later shift to entrepreneurship.

“After my studies I got work in Cape Town at a small business newspaper called Big News for the Business Owner, firstly as an administrator and later promoted to finance manager. It is here where the seed of entrepreneurship was planted as I was exposed to all the relevant information regarding the SMME sector of our economy.

“After 3 years in the job I took an opportunity to purchase shares in the company, which changed my status from being an employee to being an entrepreneur. This is when my actual business education started. I was appointed a director and given a responsibility to manage the finance and HR departments of the company.

“Since the business was still fairly new at that stage (about 5 years old) I practically learnt a lot about managing, restructuring and growing a small business — knowledge that you will never get from university! I also experienced the highs and lows of being in business.  This happened for a period of 5 years. For our business to reach 10 years it was a big achievement given the fact that statistics tells us that 80% of businesses fail in the first 5 years of trading and of those who survive 80% thereof do not reach 10 years. We therefore survived the Titanic.

“With all this business knowledge and experience I felt it necessary to share it with other aspiring entrepreneurs.

“Small business development was the next logical step for me to be involved in. To go that route I needed to further improve my business knowledge and therefore decided to move into business financing and I joined Business Partners Ltd as portfolio manager.

The aim mainly being to look at business from another angle where there is no emotional attachment. From this job I gained valuable skills and experience of evaluating entrepreneurs, their businesses and their respective industries for viability purposes. I got exposed to various industries. After 4 years of financing SMEs I was ready to make a move to the field of small business development. In 2009 I got an accreditation from the Institute of Business Advisers as a qualified business adviser and started working as a business consultant. I recently started doing business training as well.

In a nutshell, what I offer to clients is my 12 years insight on small business and also support through various interventions, including training, to enable them to succeed in business.