Entrepreneur uses her skills to help SMMEs during lockdown

PAYING IT FORWARD: EntrepreneurZandile Sifika gives back to struggling SMMEs that are affected by the Covid-19 global pandemic Picture :SUPPLIED

Eight years ago, local entrepreneur Zandile Sifika kick-started her accounting practice and her recent success has allowed her to help other SMMEs struggling due to the ongoing lockdown. “On my first day of opening my business, a client paid R1,500 into my account. Being fresh from my second maternity leave and hesitant about starting out on my own, this small amount was the reassurance needed to convince I was on the right trajectory,” said Sifika.

She now employs five people at her firm in East London, but she hasn’t forgotten that first gesture of trust. Sifika is paying it forward by assisting other SMMEs in the Eastern Cape navigate the arduous process of accessing government funding and tax breaks during
the current Covid-19 crisis.

“Most of our main operations have stopped completely because of lockdown, as our clients depend mainly on government jobs and contracts.

“But as the head of an SMME myself, I realise how important it is for me to help others get through this crisis,” she said.

Sifika said assisting SMMEs fitted in to her overriding goal of creating employment and helping small businesses to grow, so that they could play their part in growing the economy.

“Small African businesses have shown me so much support and I am where I am today because of the support that my friends and family have given me.

“It’s only right that I should help them with the skills I have,” said Sifika. Speaking to The GO! & Express, she said she never thought seven years ago she would be a director of her own accountancy firm, let alone in a position to help others.

After her second child was born, her husband encouraged her to start her own firm, and helped land two private clients.

“I enjoyed the possibility of earning more income with flexible hours, but I feared that it wouldn’t be stable.

“But when I got back to work, my job wasn’t as fulfilling anymore, I needed a change.

That’s when I decided to register and open my own practice,” Sifika said. “Running a business is not as easy as people think. You work very hard for your money and you are the last one to get paid.”

Despite the hard slog, Sifika is proud her effort has resulted in providing a monthly income for six families – including her own – and has now set her sights on opening a branch in Mthatha.

“I have a personal relationship with all of my clients and they can call me directly, which gives them a sense of security.” Although Sifika’s business is taking a heavy blow due to the Covid-19 crisis, she said she welcomed the challenge.

“It’s sometimes tough and scary to be the captain of your own ship. But then I remember that I can work flexible hours and I don’t have to be away from home or my girls for more than a couple of days. “Most importantly, there is no ceiling to what I can achieve,” said Sifika.

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