The small business ecosystem is buzzing with conferences and seminars aimed at equipping small business owners with the knowledge they need to take their businesses forward. These events usually host a line-up of extremely successful business owners running big companies – most of whom are a world away from anything related to small business. Although these events can be informative for attendees, the formalities tend to make it hard for attendees to connect with the speakers as well as network with their peers.
In contrast, ‘Yoco Meets’ is a different take on the traditional conference. Their unconference style make them informal, relaxed and more focused on giving attendees control. Your normal conference makes it almost impossible for small business owners to connect and learn from each other and these bi-monthly events are giving the control back to you.
The most beneficial part is the intimate setting. In a room of 30 to 50 entrepreneurs ideas bounce around in a free-flowing way…
Yoco Meets’ un-conference style has five guidelines:
#1: The theme is the foundation for the session
#2: Whoever shows up are the right people
#3: Whatever happens is fine
#4: Whenever it starts is the right time
#5: It is over when it’s over
The purpose of Yoco Meets is for entrepreneurs to network, offer guidance and ultimately create contacts and potential partnerships. The first session of the year in Cape Town was aimed at small business owners operating in the townships and in informal markets like Khayelitsha, Nyanga and Gugulethu. We also hosted business owners operating in Goodwood, Constantia and the Cape Town CBD. Some of the attendees included:
- Gcobani from Barista Cups (Yoco Merchant #2 124), a coffee company based in Nyanga.
- Katya from Smak Delicatessen & Restaurant (Yoco Merchant #832), a restaurant based in Bree Street.
- Toka Sithole from Chillers (Yoco Merchant #17 997), a pub and restaurant based in Khayelitsha.
Tapping into the why?
Why did you start your business?
This question revealed many similarities between the attendees. Some of the responses included:
“To give access to people without resources.”
“For the legacy. It was first for survival. Now, it’s to create a legacy.”
“To be able to create job opportunities.”
“To build capital.”
“To be different, to prove to myself that I am capable of creating something that is mine and making a success of it. And mostly to give my family financial freedom.”
As the session progressed these motivations started making it clear that township entrepreneurs are not dissimilar from their urban business peers.
Tapping into the what?
What challenges are you facing?
The attendees at the event were businesses across different sectors – textiles, technology, retail, hospitality and leisure. However, these differences collapsed when conversation turned to the challenges they faced.
“Lack of knowledge.”
“Fear of safety in the township – a high crime rate.”
“Barriers to entry and high costs to expand.”
“Funding and finding the right partnerships and having the right team to support me.”
In a community of like-minded individuals it becomes much easier to face up to these challenges, unlike in your normal conference where the big business speakers probably never have to worry about things like ‘a lack of knowledge’.
The entrepreneurial journey can be quite isolating, but it does not have to be.
The best thing about Yoco Meets
The most beneficial part is the intimate setting. In a room of 30 to 50 entrepreneurs ideas bounce around in a more free-flowing way. The relief of being able to talk with people like you, venting and asking for advice allowed many attendees to come out of the session feeling connected, motivated and refreshed.
But don’t take our word for it, sign-up for the next Yoco Meets below and experience the community vibes yourself.