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FUND-RAISING IS ONLY THE BEGINNING OF SME JOURNEY, SAYS CEO OF WETILITY

Opinion | 14 May 2023


Most budding entrepreneurs have an eagle eye on the prize, to secure the requisite funding to see their vision come to life and their business become a tangible reality. What many don’t anticipate is that the journey remains challenging once that funding is secured. Unfortunately, many don’t make it through that initial funding phase for that exact reason.


Knowing what you want, and planning for it, is crucial. Some small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are happy to remain sustainable as a small business for the foreseeable future. However, if there is a need and desire to scale up, then it is vitally important to plan and prepare.


That was the situation with our solar solutions scale-up business, Wetility. We have secured funding on several occasions over the past years and Wetility is currently on a significant growth trajectory. This is, in part, thanks to the support and guidance we’ve received from global funders who are embracing our vision of providing uninterrupted, affordable clean energy in a million homes within the next five to 10 years.


Securing funding is a major milestone and should not be seen as a small feat, by any means. Many small businesses don’t get there. However, it is important to remember that the real work begins after the funding is secured. The next step is to scale up your SME, which means expanding the business’s operations, increasing your customer base, and boosting revenue. This can be a daunting task and one that should not be underestimated.


Scaling up an SME requires careful planning, execution and monitoring. There are some key strategies that can be explored to help scale up your SME after securing funding.


Develop a growth strategy

The first step is to develop a growth strategy. This involves identifying your business objectives, setting targets, and defining key performance indicators (KPIs). Our growth strategy at Wetility is based on a thorough analysis of the market, our competition and our customers.

At the moment, we are seeing the solar market booming because load shedding continues to bite. In this environment, we are differentiating ourselves from the other solar energy providers by being innovative and putting the needs of our customers first.


This means that we are focused on driving innovation to provide value to customers while at the same time lowering costs to make solar energy accessible and affordable for as many people as possible.

A well-defined growth strategy helps to make informed decisions and prioritise your actions as you scale up. We have been lucky to have received coaching and support from a range of stakeholders to build, form, and revise ours. As such, we have been able to ensure we have the resources we need available, including funding, human capital, and technology infrastructure.

Focus on customer acquisition


One of the key drivers of SME growth is customer acquisition. As you scale up, you need to focus on expanding your customer base.

When we started to work with the MultiChoice Africa Accelerator Programme, we already had a product and paying customers but were looking to scale up our operation, specifically to penetrate the domestic market. We have been working with the programme’s business experts to achieve our goals in this space.

We learned that it is important to look at your marketing and sales activities to help reach new customers and retain existing ones. Marketing and sales efforts should be aligned with the business growth strategy and target audience.


Building a strong team

Scaling up requires a strong and dedicated team – this means having the right people with the right skills to do the job. As our business operations expand, we’ve had to hire new employees who can help to achieve our growth objectives. It’s important to build a culture of accountability, teamwork and innovation to attract and retain top talent. We are at a point now where we have full-time employees and complement our workforce by outsourcing some activities to access a larger talent pool to give us a competitive edge.


Monitor performance metrics

Finally, it's important to monitor performance metrics as we scale up. This will help track progress, identify areas for improvement and make informed decisions. Performance metrics should be aligned with growth strategy and KPIs. Some common performance metrics to monitor include revenue growth, customer acquisition costs, customer retention rates and employee productivity.


The next step

Scaling up an SME after securing funding can be challenging, but it’s also an exciting opportunity to take the business to the next level. Our plan is to successfully scale up Wetility to achieve our business objectives which are driven by the aim of providing energy independence for everyone.

We reached the MultiChoice Africa Accelerator Programme’s final stage of pitching at the Dubai expo in 2021 with big ambitions. The kind of investors to which we were exposed might not otherwise have looked at the company. We knew what we wanted, had the plans in place and knew we needed to make the most of the opportunity we had been afforded.


This helped us self-introspect and really question how we position our company and where we want to take it to as we progressed along our entrepreneurship journey.

Vincent Maposa is the CEO of Wetility.


‘Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER’.


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