How the Tholoana Programme transformed my business

Itumeleng Matshego, a past participant on the SAB Foundation Tholoana Programme, reveals how this programme prepares entrepreneurs for the real world.

By Itumeleng Matshego

It seems like yesterday when I first got a call from the SAB Foundation Tholoana team and had my first interview.

The call clarified details about my business and what it does – I remember trying to give as much detailed information as possible. Then in May 2016, I was informed via email that my application had made it through to the second round. Fast forward to July 2018 when I got a confirmation email that I had been selected as a participant in the SAB Foundation Tholoana Enterprise Programme – the  TP08 team!


Little did I know what lay ahead. Apart from the monthly myriad of business matters that needed attention, I had to focus on making sure that I completed tasks that were assigned to us by the various program managers. From monthly reports, surveys, mentor sessions, media commitments, telephonic updates to workshops – there was so much I needed to stay on top of.  Not only was I tempted to complete tasks without much effort, but I knew that this surreptitious behaviour will be of no benefit towards my business, which at this stage had shown that there were many issues that needed to be addressed. From the financial health, pricing, marketing, compliance, distribution, personnel, contracts, policies, and leads – it was a mammoth task.

After a year in the programme my attitude towards the programme was ambivalent. One minute I would be praising it as a brilliant programme, the next criticise it for the amount of tasks I was expected to complete. However, one of the most crucial resources that the programme provided me with is my business mentor, Suneil McLeod.

My mentor was very erudite, witty, and a great conversationalist. He was keenly interested in my business and its success. In times of severe pressure he was able to motivate me by refocussing and introducing a deceptively simple concept of finding my sweet spot, which encompasses a balanced life. This broke down the barrier that had existed between business, family, health and spirituality. To this day, I continue to keep in touch with Suneil.

By the second year of the programme I had put in place various systems that were introduced to me during the various workshops that had taken place. For example, a fully-fledged Financial Management System (FMS) along with a Quality Management System (QMS dramatically improved the agility of my business.

Prior to these, like all other small business owners, I was more focused on the financial injection that the programme would bring, however, it soon became apparent that money alone was not going to be the silver bullet that was required for the survival of my business. Looking back, I can now confidently say that there are many components, nuts, and bolts that go into building sustainable businesses and mine is living proof.

I was one of the hundreds of applicants that were accepted into the SAB Foundation Tholoana Programme. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity that should not be underestimated!

Not only are you equipped with various skills, tools, and resources that will certainly grow your business if used correctly and consistently, but there is a team of enthusiastic individuals from the Fetola family (the implementing partners) who are there to give you all the support you need. Some of whom you might not interact with outright, but everyone is vested in making sure that every business in the programme is a success.

Throughout the programme there will be times when you might feel inadequate especially when you compare your shortcomings against those of fellow entrepreneurs in the programme, however, that should not deter you in your quest. Never lose hope and continue to have that laser focus.

I urge any entrepreneur wanting to take his/her business to the next level to apply before the cut-off date of 26 September.

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About the Author

Itumeleng Matshego is the founder and MD of Legratron Electronics. A tracking Solutions Company that offers innovative, customisable tracking and monitoring solutions to its customers. Itumeleng has over 12 years experience in the IT & electronics space spanning from retail, finance, telecoms, and academia. He holds an Engineering degree and is currently studying towards the completion of his Masters Degree. Itumeleng is often invited to speak about innovation and has been featured in various publications. Itumeleng has been able to achieve these exceptional accolades through sheer determination and perseverance.

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