Despite the challenges of COVID-19, SITA has continued supporting education and economic empowerment for disadvantaged groups in South Africa. This commitment is made as part of SITA’s corporate social responsibility strategy to support the communities wherever in the world it operates and of Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE)* requirements in South Africa.
Since 2015, SITA has invested in the acceleration, growth, and sustainability of 15 Small, Medium, and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) in South Africa, primarily for IT. Many have become suppliers of SITA. The aim of the business development program – managed by service-provider Raizcorp on behalf of SITA – is to increase the participation of black-owned SMMEs, both within SITA’s supply chain and in the broader South Africa economy.
Anesh Sukhnandan, Owner of AT Business Solutions and Laptop Distributors (PTY) Ltd, shares how the comprehensive support from SITA has been vital to the success of his business.
Tell us about your business
AT Business Solutions and Laptop Distributors (PTY) Ltd are laptop specialists. We have comprehensive laptop knowledge and expertise along with a world-class supply chain to support the specific needs of the South African market. We have reseller partnerships with Dell, HP, Microsoft, and Lenovo. All of this enables us to supply equipment that is fit for purpose, within budget, and on time.
What drove you to start your own business?
For a very long time in my life, I felt as if I was not living up to my full potential. I had also increasingly noticed how the rising cost of technology was limiting opportunities for individuals and small businesses in South Africa. So, I decided to do something about it. I set out to start my own business. That’s how AT Business Solutions and Laptop Distributors (PTY) Ltd was born.
How has the business development program aided you?
The business development program funded by SITA includes training, mentoring, financial support, and access to market opportunities.
The financial support I got from SITA came at a time when we were on the cusp of product shortages due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I was able to purchase, hold and supply stock when global supply chains were almost strangled. This kept me relevant and competitive in the new world in which we found ourselves. We gained new clients because their usual supply chains were unable to source what we had. During this period, we expanded our efforts and employed more staff.
In entrepreneurship, you have tangible elements like Financials, Sales, Marketing, Strategy, which I learned enormously from the program and continue to do so. However, there are the intangibles as well - the emotional and mental aspects of this rollercoaster ride of being an entrepreneur. The program really lit my path to gaining self-awareness - a lifelong exercise, for sure - to truly understand the voice within me and deal with my fears. I learned to live in the moment, and the rest will take care of itself.
What are the plans for your business in the future?
We are planning to cross borders into Africa. To provide the same value to businesses in Africa that we have provided for South African companies.
Do you have any words of advice for budding or fellow entrepreneurs?
For any new entrepreneurs reading this, please keep going, no matter what. When I first started, I got countless no’s. Perseverance is essential. Because, out of nowhere, you will be rewarded with something like what SITA did for me. I am a real living example.
* B-BBEE is a government strategy in South Africa designed to address the past inequalities of apartheid by increasing opportunities for black citizens to participate in the economy. To do business successfully in South Africa, companies need to demonstrate compliance with B-BBEE.