Trying a New Venture 9

To those interested,

Throughout the years, I’ve learnt a lot. Every time I made a mistake or wrong choice I took the positive. That’s how you learn, making mistakes – if you don’t make mistakes how can you grow? My motto in life is “you can”, try everything (except Bungi Jumping and Sky Diving).

I have attached some photos of my New Venture (biggest one ever) I took on in 2007. I started a NPO Training Centre for the unskilled and unemployed people in the Lwandle and Khayelisha communities. Did all the right moves, had highly qualified Facilitators and Assessors, applied for Accreditation, funding requests to Government Bodies and entities for SED contributions, everything. Eight months later I had to close the doors because no-one joined the party. Sitting alone with a Registered NPO and R500 000 debt.

Moral of the story? First get the money in the bank before trying anything.

I have done many other ventures with great success, but got bored easely, simply because there was no challenge in it. It’s the first time that I have found my match! Skills Development within organisations and throughout South Africa. Keeping the statistics in the background (not even realistic figures), it’s amazing how the scares and critical skills grow and the money coffers of the departments of government even grows bigger.

A simple example is that the basics of terms spoken by the Acts differs from Government Departments, i.e. Black is black within DTI but not with DOL. Women is a designated group within DOL, but white women is not recognised by DTI. With the Seta’s you can train anyone, but with DTI only black employees are recognised. This all mean that you have to run two seperate training budgets within you company if you go the Seta route and become BBBEE Contributor.

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9 thoughts on “Trying a New Venture

  • Amanda van der Merwe Post author

    Dear Rose,

    You must never give up on your dream. My experience I shared was just a guideline to other’s dream. I have learnt a lot from this, but never gave up.  I am actually busy with a Learnership Project, where I use last year’s matriculants for a Business Management Learnership, making them more marketable and work experienced.  The way I went about it this time was to first put my business into a Black Women Owned Company, selling 31% to my black colluegue that’s been with me for the past 7 years.  Then I listed my company as an Enterprise Development Beneficiary. Taking the 2 or 3% NPAT donations from measured entities, funding the Learnerships and also placing the learners for a year with the participating entity for a year.  That means not only do I make 10 Learners marketable, the measures entity also scores on the Skills Development Element.  By doing this I add 25 points to the QSE scorecard or 21 points to Generic scorecard.  A win – win situation.  What did I learn from my previous venture? I have the money in the bank first, now I am in the process of persuing my passion.


    I am also glad that I can be of assistance to those that have the same passion as I have:  To help others help themselves.

  • Rose Mageza

    Hi Amanda,

    It is now 3 years later since you shared your bad experience and i only got to read about it now. Thank you for sharing your story. I have an NPO that was registered lat year december for youth development and im in the process of getting accreditation for it. I’ve spent my own money trying to push something e.g petrol money ect. From today i will be more  carefull not to start anything without the money in the bank first.

    It’s sad because i have so much passion about wanting to help the youth around Giyani in Limpopo province as most of them lack so much. I will though stay positive and keep pushing. Maybe one day the door will be opened. So far it has been that the funding period has been closed ect….. thanks again for your story.  

  • Wendy Ewurum

    I’m currently looking at doing something similar for rural development but Amanda thank you for your story because it’s just motivated me to look for funding first and secure it. Thank you because I have a learn’t a lesson from your mistake and will not have to go down the same path. I’m really sorry that it is a case of who you know and not what you know. So many suffer as a result.

  • Amanda van der Merwe Post author

    Hi Thembi,

    I can show you 4 boxes full of applications which includes Municipalities, DOL, Council of Cape Town, Eskom, Telkom, Nedbank, Woolworths, Services Seta, ETDP, Helen Zille, Thabo Mbeki, and many more I can’t even recall, even the Lotto! They either don’t bother to reply or I’m too late or they can’t because I’m a start-up business (high risk) or, or, or….

  • chettur rajagopal

    Amanda ! Given a chance I would vote you as the ” Woman with Grit ” for the year award. beleive me, I went thru a similar crisis, when I read the book ” The Secret ” By Rhonda Byrne, and I have never looked back !! maybe you should try it !! All the best ever…N .. Happy Easter !

  • Amanda van der Merwe Post author

    MMM, what actually went wrong Edwin, is people don’t put there money where their mouths are. You don’t need Market Reseach and SWOT analysis if the writing is bolded in black on the board. South Africa is in desperate need of skills!

  • Phoebe Nimmerhoudt

    Hi Amanda. I know the feeling of ventures failing but remain hopeful that the seed sowed will blossom into a beautiful flower at the right time. So keep the dream alive….all R500,000:-) I have walked the road and cannot really say that things have changed but am still dreaming about the success. I am now back in the workspace and will approach my dream from a different angle this time round.
    Yours in spirit

  • Alan Hammond

    Hi Amanda, that is a terrrible story, but its so good that you tried. You should be proud of yourself for taking in the initiative. So annoying that we live in a country where there is so much money around but it doesn’t always get to worthy causes like yours!