In July 2022, The Unconventional CA (UCA), through its association with I AM AN ENTREPRENUER (IAAE), got involved with the Telkom Supplier Development programme, helping 25 entrepreneurs grow and scale their businesses over 11 months. Together with our expert coaches and unique courses, we developed and helped entrepreneurs grow their business skills. Some of the individuals that we upskilled included computer programmers, database analysts, project managers and technology support.


The impact of ESD development in the ICT space

UCA and IAAE are specialist SME Development companies, and our main drive and purpose is to support entrepreneurs build and grow their businesses through impactful interventions. Which is what we did with the Telkom Supplier Development programme.

A misconception amongst many entrepreneurs is that they often feel like they just need funding to get them going. The truth is, it’s far more than that. They need skills in management, marketing, sales, finance and so much more. This is where Telkom asked us to get involved and help upskill the ICT industry – stimulating economic transformation and job creation, one entrepreneur at a time.

To start

We needed to assess the current skill, so that we could determine the specific skills each entrepreneur needed and then the implementation of the programme could start. The challenge with this in the past, has been keeping consistent progress and assessment updates amongst the coaches and individuals on the programme. The difference this time, was that UCA applied it’s methodology to the programme, which in turn, was transformed into a successful technology tool, allowing businesses, coaches, and entrepreneurs, to keep up to date on all progress, at all times.

We used our technology tool to run a diagnostic assessment for each entrepreneur. The results of these assessments quickly assisted us in highlighting the support and development that they required. Once we knew what we were dealing with, we pulled in our wide range of expert coaches, skills and resources, to create a successful and impactful ESD programme for Telkom.

For this specific programme we found that skills such as finance, sales, marketing, compliance, operations, and business succession, were needed. This is where we then brought our Circle of Life, to life.

Our Circle of Life

A few key ingredients to implementing a successful ESD programme with Telkom involved establishing clear objectives, assessments, targeted training and resources. Our mentors and coaches were accessible and had open communication with the entrepreneurs throughout the 11 months. Our technology tool made this easy. The Telkom Team were able to look at the progress throughout. We set performance metrics where continuous evaluation was made, to make sure the entrepreneurs were succeeding.

Another vital aspect in the success of this ESD programme with Telkom, was looking at the readiness of the entrepreneurs. Through one on ones with their coaches and the courses we implemented, they could understand what goes into building a business. It’s not just about making money. It’s seeing where their head space was, were they ready for business growth and did they have what it took to be a successful entrepreneur?

UCA believes that it’s not just about business. It’s about the mental and physical space that the individual is in.  

For these entrepreneurs to create successful businesses, we needed to make sure that their mind-set was right – did they have goals? What did they look like? Were they hungry to grow? What were their business challenges? Did they have solutions to overcome these? Could they build strong relationships? and did they have a network to work off? This is all part of the personal mastery.

Once the personal mastery was in place, then we could focus on the business mastery which is where most people go to first. But it’s about the holistic view that creates the real success because without the one side being fulfilled, the other side won’t be as strong.

In business mastery we focused on building the foundation of business through marketing, finance, strategy, system processes and business longevity. The outcome? Success, of course.

The Outcome

Once we had gone into detail, knowing what the Readiness Assessments scores were, it was easy for us to implement the right programme for everyone. Our specialist coaches helped these entrepreneurs with digital marketing and strategy, business planning and sales, responsibility and implementation of controls, financial analysis, and budgeting, costing, and pricing power, automating their systems, mindset and who they could utilise for their resources.

Our coaches are an integral part of the whole programme and the results proved this. Below is a screenshot of the Readiness Assessment Overview, before and after the 11-month Supplier Development Programme with Telkom.

Entrepreneur Readiness Overview

 Business Readiness Overview

In conclusion, the importance of ESD programmes in South Africa is undeniable. Working with companies like Telkom to create change, is what drives economic progress and it’s the driving force that fuels innovation, fosters economic growth, addresses social challenges, and empowers individuals.

How can you help?

If you’d like to be a game changer in the South African economy and contribute effectively towards ESD development of SMMEs, we’d love to demo our successful technology tool which makes running ESD programmes easy for the entrepreneur and businesses who are upskilling them.

You can email