Growthpoint Properties, the largest listed property company on the JSE, created Property Point as part of its CSI programme in 2008. With the largest percentage of the property group’s CSI spend behind its name, Property Point’s mandate was simple: to develop sustainable businesses by making them ‘procurement’ ready. This not only supports local entrepreneurship, but job creation as well.
This week Property Point celebrated the graduation of its second round of ‘intake’ companies. “The 12 companies graduating tonight weren’t just chosen so we could meet quotas,” said Shawn Theunissen at the graduation ceremony held in the property group’s Sandton offices. “Our incubation programme is designed to take existing companies that have a track record and suitable references, and help them develop their business skills so that they can become great companies that provide South Africans with sustainable jobs.” To date the programme has created 216 sustainable and long-term jobs through Growthpoint contracts alone, a number that increases exponentially when non-Growthpoint contracts are included. Easy Security, one of the previous intake’s graduates, has grown from 150 to 700 employees thanks to the incubation programme, and Growthpoint is not owner Smart Kunene’s biggest contract.
Creating great businesses
There are qualifying criteria. First, the business must be in the property sector. Second, as a CSI programme, certain socio-economic indicators need to be met, but Theunissen is quick to point out that the businesses that graduate from Propertypoint’s programme are not simply ‘small, black businesses’. “We want to support the growth of black business in South Africa, but we would like to think that we are building the potential market leaders of tomorrow, today. That’s the bigger picture. Take for example a company like TMT Cleaning, which is a small business today, but we are hoping it will be taking on Prestige in five or six years’ time.”
TMT is a graduate from Property Point’s first graduate intake, and tripled its turnover since joining the programme. Mpho Sono, owner of TMT, had this advice to share with the graduates: “No one said business would be easy. But if you have the courage to start your own business, and then stick it out when you realise how tough it actually is, if you find new and innovative ways of dealing with challenges, and if you have passion and drive, you can succeed.”
Smart Kunene, owner of Easy Security and another past graduate, also gave the graduates a word of advice, and that was to follow the advice of business mentors and use what they had and were learning from Property Point’s various programmes and workshops. “You need to listen to advise and then implement it,” he said. “Never assume you know all the answers, or that your way is the right way. Ask for advice. Try others solutions to your business problems, and be willing to learn.”