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Laduma Thembe inspires next generation of SMME’s


Co-owner of Zai O.A.T Lodge in Jane Furse, Limpopo Province, Laduma Thembe, had a simple but clear message for the close to 100 SMME’s that attended the Limpopo leg of the SMME Workshop over the weekend.

He stressed to the audience the importance of adaptation in these challenging times, when operating a business, especially in the tourism industry.

The tourism industry has been one of the hardest hit by COVID-19, and as part of the ‘Summer Different’ campaign, SA Tourism, the Department of Tourism and Provincial Tourism Agencies, are conducting provincial SMME workshops around the country.

Thembe’s accommodation establishment, a 2019 Lilizella Tourism Award winner, opened in 2006 with five rooms and has since expanded to 28 rooms and renovations are currently underway for another 52 rooms, as Zai O.A.T Lodge leads the way in its recovery phase during the pandemic.

“The key thing is for people to make a genuine and honest introspection,” said Thembe.

“Lots of mistakes and weaknesses that businesses have, stem from ourselves as human beings. Do not ignore your weaknesses and address them.”

It was introspection and adaptation that got Thembe and Zai O.A.T Lodge surviving and thriving through the pandemic.

The establishment adapted to the environment by becoming a compliant and approved quarantine accommodation facility servicing neighbouring mines.

Sharing the stage with Thembe was seasoned entrepreneur and founder of the I AM AN ENTREPENEUR program, Andile Khumalo.

Khumalo kept the attentive and willing audience in check sharing information and tactics that will help them survive and enhance their businesses during the pandemic.

“Tourism is one of the biggest employers. It creates one of the biggest opportunities for entry level work so when that industry shuts down and people don’t travel and don’t go away obviously the impact is there,” commented Khumalo.

“The entrepreneurs do need to learn how to deal with this as it is unprecedented. There is a lot that we all don’t know and we are figuring it out. But if you can focus on sales, focus on clients and find ways to attract people to your establishments, you need to learn ways to find new customers and therefore I think these workshops are important.”

Khumalo will be a regular feature at the remaining seven workshops around the country.

“I want to hang out with the entrepreneurs. I want to go to every small business as I possibly can. I just look forward to immersing myself in each province and what that province has to offer,” added Khumalo.

The importance of having the workshop in the Sekhukune district which is home to 1,1 million people was further underlined by Mayoral Committee Member, Councillor Mamatete Lorraine Manganeng.

“The Sekukhune district has a largely untapped tourism potential based on its unique offering as a traditional and liberation heritage destination,” said Councillor Manganeng.

“The district has developed and packaged a tourism marketing destination based on three tourism routes, namely: Marota Route, Platinum Streams and Mafula a Matala.

Councillor Manganeng also thanked all involved for affording the Sekhukune district the opportunity to host this very important workshop.

The ‘Summer Different’ campaign moves to Mpumalanga this week, with the SMME workshop scheduled to take place in Nelspruit on Saturday.

 

Source: South African Tourism