Social entrepreneurship start-up project: South Africa

(Tullia Capovilla-Aime) #1


I’m trying to investigate how I can obtain financial assistance for my South African “start-up” project.

I currently live in Johannesburg, and would like to create a social/sustainable project which would entail working with the local community. In short my objective is to manufacture, and promote locally derived products, to both a local, and international clientele.

I welcome any suggestions, expert advise, or contact details of any organizations you know would be willing to contribute to my project.

Thank you in advance for your assistance & all the best!



(Joyce Manichand) #2

Please check




(Tullia Capovilla-Aime) #3

Hello Joyce,

Thank you for responding.

I’ve checked the website, & from what I understand the company appears to be more of a supplier or providing various types of entertainment services. Is this correct? or do they provide other support to start-up companies in other ways?

Kind Regards



(Mark Trotter) #4

Hi Tullia

It is an interesting proposition, a couple of years ago I worked with an international charity to look at starting three projects in South Africa and Malawi. Getting the levels of investment required wasn’t the problem it was all about the historical consistency of independent projects and finding the right structure to remain internationally accountable whilst working locally.

So how much are you looking for, what sort of investment do you need and are you looking at international investment funds for sustainaility in the short term moving to a social market structure? If you are happy to answer those questions I may be able to help with some of the research materials I discovered for the charity I was working with. The outcome was funding was available for Malawi but due to the political pressures the project never started. 12,000 US dollars was the initial investment followed by cash injections of 10k per annum for three years the money was there.

Take care



(ian amor) #5

H i Tullia…
You may be interested to use a platform which will be launched later in the year…it is free and can give you ability to market globally…We will also be providing free mentoring and free marketin information ( it is currently at beta stage )
It has been designed specifically for the poor …but any one can use it…see the free starter link for
basic information on joining…

We would suggest you use free resources to start…you dont need money you need a list of customers…

Best wishes on your enterprise… ian ceo


(Robert L. Jones, II) #6

Hello Tullia,

I worked on a similar project about 5 years ago in Joburg. We were trying to help the Shona stone sculptors cut out the middle men who were abusing the situation and paying next to nothing for beautiful art they would sell for 300-800 times what they paid the artists. We also trained several groups of beach merchants in Kenya and Tanzania so they could make T-shirts based on local computer-generated designs instead of having that income go to non-African creators. We also have trained photographers who are slowly, but surely establishing themselves as serious competition for the cards that are produced in Europe. We got some assistance from the SETA programs. I don’t know what they’re doing these days, but back then it was difficult getting them to invest in anything that did not relate to security. We had extreme difficulty although the patrons of our projects included Bishop Tutu, Welcome Msomi and others. Even though Mandela endorsed our Soweto Centenary project, we ended up self-funding this effort in partnership with Vista University.

I don’t know how much time you have spent living in Joburg, but getting financial help proved very difficult. That’s the main reason I moved to Cairo. Here, as poor as Egypt is, we don’t have nearly the funding problems we had in SA.

Let me know more about your project and I might be able to steer you to (hopefully) the right people.

Robert Jones


(Ida Horner) #7

Hi Tullia,

As commentators have said funding is a real nightmare to come by. You may want to cheque with the folk at the US African development fund, if they are present in your country. They may be able to help.

Ultimately you need customers and not funding. If you are given the money on a loan basis which is more likely, you need to repay it! Therefore it’s is more important to come up with a product or services that others are willing to buy at this stage!

Good luck



(Paul M) #8

Here in Zimbabwe we are faced with that same predicament of lack of funding for our social projects . Everything else has been set in place but whats lacking now is the funding .For now we just doing simple marketing of local farm/community produce with better funding more can be gained by our society . Any international organisations which you think can come in handy ?


(Liz Muggeridge) #9


what kind of business are you looking to start, I am looking for a partner to start a high quality arts/furniture business sourcing products from ethical businesses in Africa


(Tullia Capovilla-Aime) #10

Hello Ian,

Thank-you very much for the information on the marketing platform.
I shall bear it in mind for use at a later date.

Very best Regards



(Mark Trotter) #11

Hi Paul

I am interested in your post can you explain the structure of the social project and what help you need from funders?

I am a fund raiser in the UK who isolates funders for certain types of project but they invariably are looking for a little more as Ida indicates in her post.

Let me know because if we can create a simple pathway with a real mearuable output for a Zimbabwe project then I know it will be of interest here.



(Tullia Capovilla-Aime) #12

Hi Liz,

Thank-you for your comment.

My original idea was to start a cosmetic company company using organic ingredients derived from the rural areas. However given the recent xenophobic attacks & general security issues in Johannesburg, I’ve had to re-think whether this will be a viable project for me. I’m still trying to get to know the country, & understand how things work over here.

Which country were you looking to work in, & are you already based in Africa?
From the little I’ve seen South Africa offers beautiful craftmanship. Were you interested in specific types of furniture?




(Liz Muggeridge) #13


yes I share the same concerns about SA, I am thinking about moving back there too. I am currently working in Lesotho and hoping to start high quality craft development training and then I would then market the products in SA, the UK, US etc. if this works I would want to expand into other countries. It would be good to find a partner who is on the same wavelength to work with on the marketing side.

where are you from?



(Tullia Capovilla-Aime) #14


I’m Italo/Jamaican, but lived for more than 10 years in the UK, where I completed all my studies.

Are you originally South African then? Did you move away due to the political/social situation?

When you say craft training, are you looking to open a craft school/ workshop?

Yes I think that there is a market in EU for African derived products, however it’s a case of finding the right outlet & niche. The UK in particular is the most open EU country to ethnic goods, however due to the “cosmopolitan” environment which the UK has to offer, it’s not easy providing “original” products because lots of other ethnic groups are doing the same thing. London especially is full of shops selling ethnic products, so the product really needs to stand out & be very original.



(Marc Habets) #15

Dear Tullia,

I work together with Joyce but we organize the first exhibiton for doing business with Africa; Let’s meet Africa and Do Business. My company OAVM is involved in several projects in South Africa. There will be a trade delegation coming to the exhibition form South Africa and we organize an information session at WESGRO at 17 September. Companies who have an export license can get their investments refunded by the EMIA subsidie arrangement through the DTI. Please email me at so I can send you more information and we can see how we can work together on this.

Kind regards,



(upendra kumar singh) #16

Dear Tullian

first of all I thanks you for your noble initiative. I can help you to achieve your goal. I am a Development Professional of India having more than 18 year experiences in Microenterprises & Micro finance . If you need any advice /suggestion you could contact me with out any hestitation.



(Ben Wynne-Simmons) #17

Hi Tullia,

I am a trustee with TradeRelief (more details on us can be found at We provide loans to small businesses in the region of $1000 to $5000. The terms are flexible to help development. If your project were to be commercially self sustaining then we may be able to help you. You can email me at and if you’d like to talk further we could use skype.

On another note, we are looking for partners who could help bring small businesses to our attention that are in need of assistance. If you know of any businesses that would be suitable please do not hesitate to get in contact.

Kind regards