Johannesburg, 2 June 2017 – The Riversands Incubation Hub philosophy is shaped by the scale at which Riversands Hub operates: our goal of independent businesses, sustainability for the businesses that come through our programmes; and by our belief that South Africa has unique challenges and market opportunities needing fresh delivery methods and product design to unlock value. Conventional methods of entrepreneur selection and business idea evaluation may miss these opportunities.
Another factor is that there is a lot of support available to black-owned businesses that have already achieved a measure of success and an initial track record. Although we also serve that segment, we particularly seek to grow it. For this reason, we serve a broad continuum that includes new entrants and tiny survivalist businesses with potential for growth, through all levels of maturity and sophistication to those who have already achieved success and are looking to break through to the next level of size and operational maturity.
In a nutshell, we believe that independent sustainability for a business can only be achieved if it comes from actions driven by the business owners themselves. We provide an enabling platform for entrepreneurs with a wide range of business support services and it’s up to each entrepreneur to decide what their business needs. We don’t ensure any business’s success and we don’t spend vast amounts on gatekeeping and selection, instead we focus on providing opportunity and access to what is typically needed to make a business succeed. Entrepreneurs then self-select themselves to success or failure by their actions. We inculcate this in our entrepreneurs from day one. Crucially, we also provide an entrepreneur friendly eco-system within which to pursue that path.
Riversands helps reduce the penalty of failure
Risk, and the very real possibility of failure, is inherent to entrepreneurship and to innovation. It is the response to failure that distinguishes the real entrepreneur. Does it destroy one, or can one learn from it, pivot, re-group as needed and move forward once again stronger than ever? A crucial value of Riversands Incubation Hub’s offering is that our services reduce the penalty of failure, both financially and psychologically. There is no long term lease to factory premises, the offering is agile to scale up and scale down, entrepreneurs draw on learning from Riversands Business Academy and the peer learning from fellow entrepreneurs. Back office support helps build early warning systems and maximise returns and market access support raises market visibility and helps access new clients and market segments.
In his article, Friends and friction: Business lessons we can learn from trees, Muzi Kuzwayo, founder of creative agency Ignitive struck a chord with me that resonated strongly with our philosophy. One of the business lessons he draws from nature points out how trees cut back on leaves during winter when resources are scarce. Our offering allows that: businesses can use our Back Office Services such as financial forecasting to alert entrepreneurs when “autumn” is coming to their businesses, look at costs and rapidly cut back on fancy offices or downsize factory space when the business is under pressure, redefine the business’s offering as needed, make use of Riversands Business Academy to learn how to market the business and bring spring back again, and then scale up rapidly to deliver summer’s harvest for the business’s clients. The agility of Riversands’ offering makes that possible.
It’s truly encouraging to see our entrepreneurs embracing this approach and philosophy. The campus is operational 24/7, with individual SMEs defining their operating hours to suit their own particular businesses. You will often see entrepreneurs burning the midnight oil in testament to their commitment and determination to succeed.
By Jenny Retief, Riversands Incubation Hub CEO