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Celebrating Mandela Day at Mirwa Pizza House in Partnership with African Bank

Mahlatse Tolamo-02

Mahlatse Tolamo | July 18, 2023

Mandela Day was officially declared by the United Nations in 2009 and this is a day aimed at honouring Nelson Mandela’s legacy and values through volunteering and community service. This year’s theme is ‘It Is in Your Hands’ which Is a call to use your hands to do good in the world. This theme is mainly focused on working together to end hunger and mitigate climate change by planting trees and food in local communities, cities, gardens, and pavements.

Millions of South Africans celebrated this day either by providing the homeless with food/clothes, planting trees to help reach the one million planted trees goal set out by the Nelson Mandela Foundation or cleaning up their communities. We usually do not celebrate the day as a team, however this year we decided to do things differently. Our vision is to power the next generation of entrepreneurs, and this means cultivating a supportive environment for their growth either through programmes, events or simply being accessible to entrepreneurs when they need to strategize.


Prior to our programmes launching, we usually do a needs assessment to understand the gaps and growth opportunities as this will assist in creating a growth map. Additionally, our team does site visits of the premises that SMMEs operate from to ensure that this is aligned with the growth map that is being developed.


We recently launched a female-focused entrepreneurship programme which is powered by African Bank, aimed at empowering female entrepreneurs with the skills and knowledge that is necessary to start, manage and grow successful businesses. African Bank prides itself in supporting underserved SMMEs in the township, peri-urban and urban to grow their revenue streams and restructure their business operations with the goal of firstly diversifying their services; secondly, participating in the mainstream economy and lastly yet importantly, forming part of their procurement value chain.  

To celebrate Mandela Day, 22 On Sloane and African Bank spent the day at Mwari Pizza House, founded by Ms Tshepiso Sibisi. Tshepi is one of the Female Entrepreneurship programme participants and her business launched in 2018. Prior to selling her first pizza, she conducted market research in her garage by giving people samples of her pizza to understand the audience to create flavours that are most liked.  In the same year, she officially sold her own pizza and following this, there were a few key achievements namely: 


  • Grant funding from GEP of the value of R40 000 for purchasing equipment and creating branding.  
  • She won R20 000 from the SABC SMME Pitch Competition  
  • She was the QWB+ Allies Pitch winner.


It is evident that she has achieved a lot in a short period of time given the circumstances and it is worth noting that SMMEs are more resilient as they experience quite a few challenges, one of those being access to markets and funding. The funding pool for tech-enabled businesses is wider than SMMEs who are not tech-enabled which also indicates how African Bank is actively supporting SMMEs to sustainably integrate in the mainstream economy to get access to funding and markets. 


Post our team’s site visit to Mwari Pizza house, it was discovered that the business premises required refurbishment so that they can attract customers.  Together with African Bank, we leveraged Mandela Day to assist Tshepi refurbish her premises which somewhat assisted with the costs related to this so that she can focus on operational gaps. 


This was an important activity as firstly it was a team-building effort for both African Bank and 22 On Sloane so that we understand the importance of the work that we do in supporting SMMEs. Being on the ground with SMMEs makes one appreciate the efforts they make to grow their businesses and the type of support they need. In as much as this was a team-building effort, this was also a moment of reflection in honouring Mandela’s values of working together to achieve one common goal, SMMEs will also understand the importance of leveraging your surrounding resources for your growth.  


I will end this with a quote from Nelson Mandela ‘Remember to Celebrate Milestones as you Prepare for the Road Ahead’. This quote speaks to corporates, enterprise support organisations and SMMEs that growth only occurs when we celebrate the milestones we have achieved which will inform our growth and impact map.   


Mahlatse Tolamo is the Manager: Stakeholder Relations | GEN South Africa Managing Director 


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