Mthente Research seeks Account Managers

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Account Managers


Mthente Research and Consulting Services (Pty) Ltd is a research-driven consultancy based in Cape Town.  We are seeking the expertise of two Account Managers with solid account and client management experience and knowledge of qualitative and quantitative research, to manage day-to-day contact with our clients & to co-ordinate all client projects & processes that deliver an excellent research product within timeframes and budgets.

Key Responsibilities

Business Management

  • To ensure successful delivery of all client briefs within timeframe & budget whilst delivering exceptional research products.
  • To manage processes, plans, schedules, resources, finance and presentations in order to deliver a high quality, research end-product.
  • Accept responsibility for all meetings relative to the research project, and accurate administrative recordings and filing thereof.
  • Ensure appropriate sign-off on all required project documents.
  • Ensure understanding of the effect of a deadline on the company’s and clients’ bottom line.
  • Ensure understanding of the relevant client contract and relevant legal/regulatory guidelines.
  • Work with a Senior Researcher to ensure the above by prioritising, delegating and managing each of the projects within the account team.

Client Service

  • To have a clear understanding of the client’s operational requirements and to deliver the project components to agreed plans.
  • Through close relationships with the client, to continuously provide updated information regarding status of the project whilst always managing the clients’ expectations.
  • Control information gathered from the client through accurate reporting, clear project documentation, and secure filing.
  • Ensure client and company are kept up to date with any developments on the project via attendance of meetings and regular communication.

The ideal candidate must be results driven with the ability to work both independently and within a team.  He/she must have a flexible approach to work, with a desire to learn and grow. Previous project management and research experience is an additional advantage.

Applicants must submit a covering letter and detailed CV to Lynn Oliver at lynn@mthente.co.za.

Closing Date: 30 August 2019

Beyond Passion, Resilience and Networks: Entrepreneurs and the role of Policy

The Department of Small Business Development (DBSD) commissioned Mthente to undertake a study that would investigate the effects of economic challenges and slow growth on SMMEs and Cooperatives. We were asked, among other things, to recommend policy responses that would support SMMEs and Cooperatives during periods of economic recession. One story of a passionate and resilient entrepreneur from Hout Bay provides insight into the kinds of issues faced by the small business sector.

I am often asked: What makes an entrepreneur and what does an entrepreneur need to build a sustainable enterprise? There isn’t really a short answer, but three of the most important ingredients are definitely: Passion, Resilience and Networks.

These are more than just words to put up on a wall. They translate into real emotions and approaches to business life, and can make or break promising enterprises. Nozipho Dube from Ecogift is an example of one such entrepreneur: she is driven by passion, strengthened by her resilience and empowered by the networks she has developed and drawn on.

Nozipho is a Cape Town entrepreneur, operating a CMT (Cut, Measure and Trim) business that employs 23 people full-time. She exemplifies the traits of passion and resilience, and recognises the importance of networking as the key to her success, but faces challenges in trying to scale and stabilise the business. 

Entrepreneurship is about finding the Passion

The idea for Nozipho’s CMT business was planted while working for Embrace Dignity, an NGO that assists women wanting to leave a life of prostitution.  It was this passion to help women get out of prostitution that was the first seed for her current business venture.  She developed a business plan around making school uniforms, as uniforms are easy to make, are standard and do not follow trends.  Her vision was to use the women the NGO was working with to manufacturer the uniforms and for the NGO to sell them, believing this was a way to ensure sustainable employment for these women. The business plan unfortunately was not realised.  It was, however, when the NGO later sent Nozipho on a visit  to visit UN Women that she really started to dream big.  Being inspired by the  women she met there she decided to review her life.  Nozipho picked up her school uniform business plan, tweaked it to focus on protective clothing, and established Ecogift.

The South African Government’s National Development Plan and the Black Industrialist Policy was encouraging manufacturing as a growth area, as this sector was identified as core to the overall industrialisation process to drive economic growth. Nozipho therefore felt she was on the right track with her plan to manufacture work uniforms.

Entrepreneurship is about Resilience

Entrepreneurship has become a sexy notion, inviting us all to become the next Richard Branson or Patrice Motsepe. But a business owner takes a lot of knocks, and being a successful entrepreneur takes a huge amount of resilience. Many hard lessons were in store for Nozipho.

“I grew up sewing, since the age of 7. I sewed with my mom.  She was very stylish and made all her own clothes.  So, I have sewing in my blood, and because of this I thought creating a business around sewing was going to be easy.  Boy was I wrong … I knew it was going to be hard, but I didn’t think it would be this hard. Doing this as a business, there are so many moving parts to it.”

Nozipho strategised that she would not open a factory until she had a full order book. She would outsource production for orders instead. The fledgling business got a break in October 2014 when De Beers Marine put in a large order for flame-retardant boiler suits. But then the manufacturer delayed production by a month. 

“This is De Beers. And this is my first order, and I must go and say, ‘I’m sorry, you’re getting your uniforms a month late.’ Because, you know, factories shut down in December. So that was hard for me. After that first experience, I just thought: ‘I don’t need this headache. I can’t wait until my order book is full. I need control. I don’t want the stress.’ So, in March 2015 I got my first premises and hired a supervisor to assist me with the production.”

Another order worth R250 000 was returned. This devastated Nozipho and she went into a slump. She had to dig deep and speak to herself: “It’s ridiculous for me to be lying here in bed at half past eight in the morning,” she remembers telling herself. “Nobody’s going to solve this problem. No-one’s going to do it for you.”

Her sense of responsibility toward her employees helped her to shake herself out and get going again. This was rewarded with orders being received from Sportsman’s Warehouse and Truworths.

Entrepreneurship is about building the Network and finding Money

“It’s hard to find money. It is hard, hard, hard.” Nozipho became a member of the clothing and textile cluster because she wanted to get closer to the retailers.

“I wanted to find out what they were doing, what was happening in the industry. And it so happened that I began to interact with them. So now if I don’t have an order at least I can pick up the phone and say ‘Do you have extra work for my factory?’.

“I’m also trying to collaborate with other women more and more. A lot of women actually helped me along the way – and men, too –  but there are many women who went all-out for me when I started the business.”

Because of a relationship with African Marine Solutions and De Beers, Nozipho feels that exploring the maritime space might work to her advantage. “I used to actually be a member of SAOAGA (SA Oil and Gas Association), so I think it’s time to renew that membership and start networking in that space.”

Another company loaned Nozipho a machine, delivered it at no cost, and allowed her to use their mechanic to set it up, despite not doing any work for them in the end. For Nozipho, it’s an approach built around assisting others to stabilise in the industry, which in turn grows the industry itself. She has tried to access government funds and grants but notes that such applications are time consuming to complete. “When a small business faces cash flow problems, there is an immediate need for money. If you wait for loans and grants through government agencies, your business would already be dead when the money finally arrives.”

Entrepreneurship and Policy

So how does Policy response impact an entrepreneur like Nozipho? Has the Black Industrialists Policy helped, for example?

Despite ISO9001 certification, and three years in business, she says: “I’m not feeling it yet. It’s been a real struggle. I think I can understand why. You have to prove yourself to a point before people can start to say ‘Okay’.”

Nozipho’s current goal is securing that elusive big order. It’s a catch 22, because funding is a huge barrier. But she also understands that you have to create your own opportunities. This year, she’s started looking at tenders. “It’s hard to find the money if you don’t always get the work. I’m just at the point where I think I’m ready to take the business to scale, so I’m looking for a long-term contract that will give me that stability.

“If we could figure out a way of scaling – that is the answer, because then we can also become more efficient. To do workwear with fourteen people – we are only half of a line, but to expand to a full line, we need the orders.”

A way forward

Nozipho’s story illustrates the challenges that small businesses face – with key limitations being around the access to finance and technology.  It is the partnerships and networks that they forge that assists with access to cash for operations, technology and growth. For Nozipho these relationships have been developed with big businesses through their value chains, which have opened doors for her, offered her financial support and guidance. This is what small businesses need.  It is this that assists them through economic crises and hardships. 

For government it is important to identify the root causes of small business constraints and develop policies that focus on encouraging resilience. Policy interventions need to focus on the features that make small businesses vulnerable at all stages of their growth.  These policy interventions need to focus on including quicker and easier access to finance, the provision of information and networks, funds to invest in technology and innovation, and overall skills development. If this investment is made during the stable periods, our small businesses will be more robust to confront the challenges of economic downturns.

Vacancy: Operations Manager

Mthente Research and Consulting Services is looking for an experienced Operations Manager who will be responsible for the overall management of Mthente’s research and consulting projects.  This will be achieved by designing, implementing and managing internal processes and systems that will drive organisational performance and efficiencies, allowing for the delivery of high-quality research products on time and within budget.

Key Responsibilities will include:

  1. Managing and monitoring of all projects through the programme cycle, including the coordination of projects and their interdependencies.
  2. Defining, developing, implementing and managing operational systems and processes, including governance controls.
  3. Managing project budgets, including the management and utilisation of resources across projects.
  4. Managing risks and taking corrective measurements to ensure project delivery and revenue maximisation.
  5. Managing client and associate communication and relationships.
  6. Managing Mthente’s intellectual knowledge and project documentations, including key databases.

Key Skills:

The Operations Manager must have strong practical experience in project and operational management, which has been gained through managing complex research projects, preferably within a research consulting environment.  He or she must have the following attributes:

  • Excellent knowledge and handling of project management methodologies and techniques.
  • Excellent operational management skills.
  • Excellent knowledge of budgeting and resource allocation procedures.
  • Advanced IT skills, especially Excel and the ability to manage large data sets.
  • Research reporting and analytical skills.
  • Ability to work positively with a wide range of individuals involved in the delivery of Mthente’s research projects.
  • Strong leadership and management skills, with advanced communication abilities.
  • Innovative approach to work and problem solving.
  • Entrepreneurial drive and self-motivation to grow the profile of Mthente.

The idea candidate must have a post-graduate degree, preferably in the areas of Management, Research Psychology and/or Monitoring and Evaluation.  It is imperative that the applicant has a minimum of 8-10 years operational management experience.  Previous management experience in a research consulting environment and/or owning a business will be an advantage.   

Please send a full CV and a covering letter highlighting ability to meet the requirements of the job to lynn@mthente.co.za

Closing Date: 8th July 2019.  If you have not heard from us by the 31st July 2019 you can assume that your application has not been successful. 

Nomvano Jim

This is my story: Nomvano Jim

I was born in Rustenburg in the North West Province of South Africa, but I stayed in the Eastern Cape with my grandfather’s sister whom I referred to as “makhulu” until I was 9 years old. I then came to Cape Town to live with my mother and seven siblings in Khayelitsha. I attended Ikhusi Public Primary School and Luhlaza Senior Secondary School.

I did extremely well at school and received several awards for academic excellence. I fell pregnant in Grade 11 as I knew very little about love and boys. Through peer pressure and naivety, I ended up having a baby at the age of 19.

I was determined that a baby was not going to stop me from finishing school and realising my dream of becoming an independent business woman. Despite missing the first couple of months of my Matric year, I returned to school at the end of the first term to write my exams and worked hard towards finishing my Matric in 2013.

My interest in attending university began when two people from the University of Cape Town (UCT) came to my school to identify 10 students who had excelled in their studies, so that they could become involved with a project called Wannabe at Humanities. The focus of this initiative was to encourage learners from townships to apply to study at UCT. I was chosen to be part of the project and I submitted my application to study Humanities. My application was accepted, and I enrolled at UCT in 2014 and graduated on the 6th April 2018 with a Bachelor of Social Sciences with three majors: Industrial Sociology, Gender Studies and Social Development. I was the first person in my family to both pass Matric and to attend university!

After my studies I decided I needed to gain work experience and to spend some time with my young daughter who I had seen very little of whilst studying. I sent my CV to many organisations but had very little response back from them. I could not sit around doing nothing and I needed to earn some money, so I started teaching English to foreigners. I was excited when Mthente called me and invited me for an interview and offered me the position as a workplace intern. This is the beginning of the next chapter of my life and the next step towards realising my dream. My story shows that through hard work, patience, knowing what you want in life and through perseverance anything is possible.

Abaphumeleli

Abaphumeleli – Orphanage

Mthente ended off the year at Abaphumeleli Orphanage in Khayetlisha with a Christmas party for the children

firefighter

Assisting our City Heroes – Fire Fighters

Mthente and staff reached out to our firefighting heroes during the 2015 Mountain blazes through an on-spot fundraiser in response to calls for donations via the media. The collection drive raised R2,000!

Baitul Ansaar Child Care Centre

Baitul Ansaar Child Care Centre

In partnership with AMKA Products, Johnson & Johnson, and the Cape Town Social Responsibility Drive Team, Mthente raised R8000 and reached out to the Baitul Ansaar Child Care Centre for a second year running to donate household and sanitary items to the Centre.

Baitul Ansaar Child Care Centre

Nal’ibali Reading Club

Nal’ibali Reading Club Philippi – PRAESA

In the spirit of the words of #Madiba “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” (Nelson Mandela), Mthente spent Mandela Day reading to and interacting with children from the Nal’ibali Reading Club in Philippi. To add to this fun some colouring was organised for our younger leaders in the group. Staff and friends generously donated snacks and craft items to for the children in the group. Thank you guys!

 

fundraiser

Staff Fundraiser for One of Own

The Mthente staff has decided to begin 2015 on a thoughtful and caring note by assisting a colleague-in-need to get an eye test done and subsequent to that, to purchase much needed spectacles. This was a warm hearted and covert mission by the Mthente staff which brought tears of joy and gratitude to the grateful Vuyani. In total Mthente staff & the company contributed R8,260.00!