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‘Hand-To-Mouth To Survive’: A New Entrepreneur Banks On Hope During Lockdown

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Ntokozo Hadebe had just started his business when South Africa went into lockdown. He is hoping he will be able to recover payments and keep his enterprise alive. 

Ntokozo Hadebe, an occupational health and safety (OHS) entrepreneur from Soweto, Johannesburg, only recently founded his own business, BNH Pty/Ltd, a consulting and training business concerned with the health, safety and welfare of workers. 

Little did Hadebe know that a killer virus would shut down South Africa. He had just opened shop, and the timing could not have been worse.

“Business had to stop all operations due to the lockdown. I had already invoiced clients and processed jobs that I had recently done. Going into lockdown, I had to put jobs on hold that were scheduled and paid for. I also had quotes awaiting approval and they too were put on hold,” he says.

Like many small businesses, the three-week lockdown in South Africa has affected his operations too; and he, like many of counterparts in business, are uncertain if the lockdown will be extended.

At this point, he is unsure of the business recovery plan of his clients, as that would inadvertently affect payments.

“Recovery is also going to depend on my clients’ strategies. After this crisis is over and business operations continue as normal, I am not sure if my clients will have a budget for me because of the financial constraints they may have incurred during this lockdown. This leaves me in a very tight corner for me to continue to provide my services,” he says.

Hadebe is using this period to strategize and find ways to help BNH recover because, “if there is no operation, there is no income for the business, meaning, I can’t grow the business going forward.”

He is currently surviving on previous payments but also mindful of cash-flow issues for running costs once business kicks off again.

“In a nutshell, I have to use a hand-to-mouth system in order to survive. At least I have settled costs incurred with my suppliers and other service providers, like printers. But for now, I have nothing else coming in at all.”

Hadebe had earlier been employed at a company but quit because he felt he wasn’t getting the support he needed and decided starting his own entity would satiate his hunger.

The lockdown is a harsh learning curve and he hopes he will become a tougher entrepreneur as a result.

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