Lise Kuhle

Eco Smart Group (www.ecosmartgroup.co.za)
Out of the box skills centre, Corner Power and Refinery Roads, Germiston

What Does Your Company Do?

We are a social enterprise that upskills and mentors women through the businesses processes of our manufacturing business. We manufacture functional items, gifts and accessories for our own retail brand (shwe.co.za) and community development brand (Baroka Basadi) as well as manufacture housebrands for 3rd party clients. We believe that social enterprise can and should be seen as an opportunity for highly profitable business. The women we work with are profit driven, highly motivated individuals. We believe in social capitalism and ploughing money made back into social causes, improving the quality of life and opportunities, through education and resourcefulness for all South Africans

What is your Biggest Success?

1) Setting up the Young Mavericks programme mentioned above 2) One of the businesses we helped start did a turnover over the 2018/19 Christmas period of R75k and that women was an underpaid creche teacher (R2500/month) with no technical or business skills 2 years ago. The best part about it was that the majority of her turnover was achieved through sourcing her own clients and was not dependent on us. 3) Supplying our retail products to 50 stores in SA 4) Our turnover has grown by a million rand a year for the last 3 years. 5) I get to add value to a great many peoples lives everyday through very small actions which has made me grow tremendously as a person and an active citizen.

What has been your Biggest Hurdle?

My biggest hurdles are consistent with all the challenges entrepreneurs face, such as cash flow, access to markets, administrative support and not being able to afford (or not being able rationalise!) high end human capital from the onset. All the hurdles I have experienced have been mostly operational and have been risks on new products or processes that have not paid off. I have seen these (afterwards!) as great learning opportunities and luckily I have survived to tell the tale to other women and entrepreneurs.

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