Cape Town – The boldness with which she speaks, and the wisdom that comes out of what she says, makes one realise that every dream in life is possible as long as one is committed and prepared to work extra hard to achieve that goal.
It is the element of non-hesitancy that exists in her and makes it possible for her to not draw back but to keep focused on the success of her consultancy company, Perpetua8 that she established in 2018 in Johannesburg.
The 34-year-old CEO, S’onqoba Vuba is clearly one of South Africa’s strong young black women who, over the years have become a force to reckon with.
Perpetu8, she says, is a consulting business that specifically focuses on small businesses in South Africa and key markets in Africa.
“The purpose and the reason why it exists was born from a desire and a need to see more small businesses scale, to see more businesses become the next discovery or the better discovery or the next company that everyone would most probably look up to
“So it’s really about supporting and scaling businesses on the African continent and being able to be part of that journey with the SME,” says Vuba.
And how is this achievable?
“How we do that is through two forms. The one is through strategy consulting – where we make sure that this business has a sound business model and a scalable strategy. And we often look at also how we can use technology to enable that business to be more scalable.
“The second thing we do is implementation consulting. I actually don’t like consultancy because I often feel like they give you advice but then you have to go away and do the hard work. So in building Perpetu8 as a consultancy, it was absolutely important for us to be building an implementation basis on which once we have helped you figure out your strategy, we roll up our sleeves and help you implement the solutions that are needed in your business in a way that we can bring professionals who are qualified to do the work but do it in a way that is affordable because money is always an issue in small businesses,” she says.
Polish and refine
She says they do it in a flexible way such that if one needs an accountant in their business for 1 or 2 days, a month, it’s made possible and it’s arranged so that they only pay for that service.
“If say you just need someone to come in and develop an app for your business and we can get you a developer for a three-month period, then that’s all you pay for instead of having to hire the people full time. So that’s what Perpetu8 does. We focus on how to scale African small businesses to become the future medium and large enterprises that create jobs and that contribute to economic growth,” she says.
And how much do the SMEs pay for the services?
“It ranges because we do quite a number of projects. So on the strategy consulting side, it literally could be as little as a couple of hours of work, which is like less than R10 000 for the time that was spent helping people polish or refine their strategy. Or it could be a little more because they don’t have a strategy and we are starting from scratch.
Formal and post-revenue businesses
“And then with the implementation consulting side, it also ranges because it depends on what the SME’s needs are. We’ve done projects for less than R5 000 and we’ve done projects for over R100 000, particularly where it could be more complicated. So it ranges based on what the need is for the business. And as for the cost, we always try and make sure that it’s aligned with the SME’s budget and that we give them the best solution and the best professionals to work with,” she says.
Perpetua8 partners or works with formal and post-revenue businesses.
“They don’t have to be profitable but they must have some sort of product or service that they have tested on the market that someone is willing to pay for. That revenue may be R500 or R100 million but for us, it’s post revenue or formal businesses. We look at whether it’s a business that can grow and create employment,” she says.
To date, the company has worked with over 200 small businesses and has built up a database of at least 2 000 professional individuals and companies that are ready to work on projects.
Passionate South African citizen
Vuba holds a degree in Risk Management from Wits University, among other educational qualifications, and these have empowered her to become what she is today.
“I am a very passionate South African citizen who wants to see us doing things better and I try to get involved in things that can drive that outcome,” she says.
“I think our generation is a weird one because I don’t think we fully realise all the things we can do and also all the things we can achieve. If you ask me coming out of university or even when I started working, I never would have been able to predict my trajectory after 10 to 11 years of working. I think I’ve superseded whatever plan I had,” she says.
Vuba says she sometimes looks at her achievements and gets surprised and shocked, and yet again, feel “grateful that I’m in a world and country where I’m privileged enough to have those opportunities. So I think gratitude is a big thing”.
But what sort of privilege and opportunities did she have that led to her success at a younger age?
“The privilege for me came about as a form of education. I was raised by a single mother who is originally from Mpumalanga. Before I turned one, she moved us to Joburg. I spent my first informative years in Thokoza at the height of the ANC (African National Congress) and IFP (Inkatha Freedom Party) fights. So it was a very violent time,” says Vuba.
She remembers how her mother, who to this day is a sales agent, managed to use her income and commission to put two kids through school and help them acquire quality education.
“I don’t think at the beginning it was privileged but I think that some of her sacrifices made that privilege possible, which was being able to access quality education, which if accessed… could be a game-changer for your life and that’s what opened doors for me to get scholarships to even study at a university which never would have been possible, to get a qualification that never would have been possible, to get into job roles and opportunities and options that never would have been possible,” she says.
The dream for Vuba is to see a Perpetu8 presence in at least 2-5 other territories on the African continent.
“The dream would be to have satellite teams in Nairobi, Lagos and so on – where we work with awesome African businesses that are well-positioned to scale and grow. We want to partner with those businesses and help them grow. Maybe we may end up being investors in those businesses that we help grow,” says Vuba.
Written by Betha Madhomu