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Mpumalanga Tourist Guide Receives SAB Foundation Award

Kanyamazane resident, Netto Maluka, was one of seven small business owners recognised at the prestigious SAB Foundation Tholoana Awards in Johannesburg on 5 June. Maluka, who owns Mbombela Experience, a Nelspruit based travel and transport company, received the Superstar Award for his tremendous participation since joining the programme in July 2016.

Bridgit Evans, Director of SAB Foundation, said, “One of our priorities is to provide opportunities for people in the rural areas who do not have ready access to support offered by those in large cities.” She praised how Maluka took his business to the next level by making optimal use of every element offered by the programme. “He communicated enthusiastically with his mentors and fellow participants, especially at workshops, where he was always eager to contribute to discussions and try out new concepts,” she said.

His mentor, Ntando Maseko, spoke highly of Maluka: “Netto is a great individual to work with, always open to new ideas with a great ability to take the discussion forward and act on it. On tour he entertains his clients all day long with complete commitment and enthusiasm. his spirit of Ubuntu is infectious. His cultural tours of the province, provided by experienced local guides. Netto secured a deal with Nando’s to transport their workers after work. At first, he used one vehicle but now uses two as they loved his service. This enabled him to employ another driver.”

Maluka was delighted with his business’ growth, and especially the growth of referrals. He said, “This was our main focus in mentor sessions, coupled with an effort on social media. This has brought me international clients from America and Europe. As of June, Mbombela Experience will be receiving guests from China too!”

He also put into practice the benefit of networking, creating a terrific opportunity to work with a fellow participant from Mpumalanga, Lindiwe Mashinini. “At the vision workshop, I learned about her business and was excited by the chance to collaborate with and support a fellow entrepreneur in the programme. Joli offers bottled water, with branded labels. This was a much-needed product for my business and it has worked perfectly so far,” he said.

For Maluka, the high point was the calibre of the facilitators at the workshops. “I’m glad I could participate in a forum where the facilitators don’t just say, ‘Go do it!’ They nurture you to be the best entrepreneur you can be and not just your own hustler. They give you the knowledge and skills for running a successful business,” he said.

Mbombela Experience employed only three people at the start of the programme. “We now have six permanent jobs and three freelancers,” said Maluka. “So much learning took place, but especially valuable was learning how to make an appointment and how to approach conduct a meeting with a client.” He expressed the hope that other entrepreneurs in Mpumalanga will apply for the programme in order to create much-needed jobs and stimulate the region’s economy.

Fetola CEO, Catherine Wijnberg, who is the implementing partner of the Tholoana programme commented on the potential to effect positive growth with committed engagement from corporate South Africa. She praised a 261% increase in his income over the 20 months of mentorship, skills training, workshops and financial support.“The possibility of building a better economic landscape ensures that small businesses like Mbombela Experience can take their seat at the table and participate fully in nation-building.”

Eligible small business owners may apply to the Tholoana Enterprise Programme in August. To register your interest before then email tholoana@fetola.co.za. Details are available at the SAB Foundation website – www.sabfoundation.co.za.