Eighteen entrepreneurs from Stellenbosch have successfully completed a five-part Google Workspace training series presented by MiDO Foundation in collaboration with Nedbank and Ranyaka Community Transformation.

The training will enable entrepreneurs to use Google Workspace applications effectively to manage and grow their business as well as improve client engagement.

The MiDO Foundation is the philanthropic arm of MiDO Technologies, a Stellenbosch-based company that specialises in providing digital literacy solutions in schools, the workplace, and for entrepreneurs. Ranyaka is a Stellenbosch-based urban planning social enterprise (non-profit) that works in seven provinces across South Africa and engages with communities in pursuit of holistic, sustainable, and positive socio-economic impact. Ranyaka is also the national implementation agent for the Nedbank Proud of my Town programme.

Three local entrepreneurs that benefitted from the training are Lerato Mthiya, the co-owner of a local fashion label called Yeyethu Designer Studio, Cassiem Arnolds, the owner of a pool servicing business that is based in Idas Valley, and Zane Fransman, the owner of Fransman Barbershop in Jamestown.

“I am a fashion designer from Khayamandi in Stellenbosch,” says Lerato. “However, I never got the opportunity to finish my matric. That did not discourage me from reaching my dream of owning a business, so after I graduated from the Paarl School of Skills in 2015, I decided to open my own fashion label with the help of my business partner, Bulelwa Tito. We started the business in 2017 and registered our company in late 2018, and we are still operating today producing traditional garments.”

The Google Workspace training sessions, says Lerato, have been eye-opening for him, especially since many business owners tend to pay more attention to the production side of the company and forget the key role that good administration plays in a business. He has already started using Google Docs to create client questionnaires.

“Knowing how your customers feel about your services is an important part of knowing where the business is lacking so that you can work on what to do, to give them better service. Even with the previous session, I was not aware that I could create a Google Calendar that my business partner and I could use to keep tabs on appointments with our customers.”

He encourages up-and-coming entrepreneurs to acquire digital skills and sign up for these sessions, especially now, with most things happening online.

“These skills will come in handy in getting new clients for your business and making sure your business runs smoothly,” he adds.

Cassiem, who is the owner of Arnold’s Pool Services, services swimming pools in Stellenbosch. After dropping out of school,  he spent six years at home without a job. His mom encouraged him to apply for a plumbing diploma at a skills development school.

“After graduating, I worked for a construction company for three months and decided to resign to start my own business. I am currently the only person in my business who does the swimming pool maintenance, plumbing, and all the technical work, but I recently got a lady to help me with the administrative side of the business.”

Cassiem learned about MiDO’s training sessions on social media and saw it as a great opportunity to grow his business as well as his networks.

“My experience so far with the training has been nothing but informative. For someone who started without any knowledge of Google Workspace, I have surely gained a lot of basic insight other than just Googling. The people offering the training pay attention to detail in making sure that we grasp everything they teach us. I am still learning and cannot wait to execute everything that I have learned in my business.”

One of the skills that Cassiem is currently using in his business is e-mail etiquette and it is working in his favour.

Zane, who is an owner of a local barbershop, says that the training was really good.

“I have worked on Google calendars in the past, however, I have always written down my to-do list on a piece of paper. It’s how I also set goals for my business. I wasn’t using all the Google calendar functions and was therefore not always taking action with regard to my task list. Now I use all the functions, which remind me of my daily tasks, goals, as well as events I need to attend. I’m really benefiting from making full use of the Google calendar functions as it helps me to take action.”

For more information about digital skills training offered by the MiDO Foundation, please contact Nadine Farao, Sales and Marketing Manager at MiDO Technologies at nadine@mido.co.za.