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Small Business Boost

On 19 February 2019, Marloes Reinink graduated from the J.P. Morgan GIBS Small Business Boost Programme – a 10-month business management scholarship at GIBS, specifically focused for businesses in the green economy. Here, Marloes shares her experience.


Starting in February 2018, a group of fifty entrepreneurs who are active in the green economy – from green building solutions and renewables, to waste recycling and natural skincare – came together at GIBS to be educated on essential business skills. The programme aimed to promote business growth and job creation for small companies operating in the green economy.

Many entrepreneurs (including me) start a business without these skills and use trial and error to get things to work. Most people on the course own businesses that have been running between 3-8 years, and everyone found the topics taught during this course absolutely vital.

There was a day on Innovation strategies and how to think outside the box, with the help of tools that identify where in your business you can innovate on processes, products or services. And we were very entertainingly taught about negotiation skills, including the local LOBOLA negotiation Framework (developed by Dr Andy Brough):

  1. Listen & Learn
  2. Outline the parameters
  3. Build a positive climate
  4. Open Communication
  5. Look for Options
  6. Agree on the Agreed

For me, one of the most useful modules was on Financial Management and Marketing Strategy. I have always procrastinated analysing finances as this process does not get me very excited and it often seems too complicated. But Brian Simelane, our lecturer who also runs his own businesses including Learning Sims, managed to keep us engaged and mesmerised for 3 days. I was also fortunate that the mentor assigned to me, Vernon Leas, is a specialist in Financial Management, so I learned a lot and am not so scared of numbers anymore!

The marketing course, taught by Ian Rheeder, who runs the marketing business, Markitects (it’s worthwhile checking out some of his YouTube videos), was entertaining and insightful. Did you know that Brides and Architects are the easiest target groups for Facebook advertisements?! So, if you are an architect and you see Solid Green ads passing by, you know that I have managed to figure out how Facebook ads work.

As the final assignment, we had to develop a business plan, which I used as an opportunity for GreenED, my new venture. Nokwazi Mzobe (Matoyana Consultants) gave us all the right materials and tools to get cracking with the business plan, including a detailed look into the Business Model Canvas, which is a super tool for anyone who wants to start a business.

All in all, it was a great experience; my fellow GIBS small business boosters were great company; and some useful business links were created. I can definitely recommend contacting GIBS about their programmes if you are interested in gaining some useful business skills!

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