The second Yoco Meets of 2023 saw a community of Durbanite small business owners gather to swap tales of tenacity and learn from those forging the way ahead, potholes (literal and figurative) and all.
Balmy weather and bunny chow aren’t the only reasons we stan Durbs. KZN small business owners can confidently claim the title of Mzansi’s most tenacious entrepreneurs, growing their businesses in the face of adversity that sounds like the plot of a doomsday movie narrated by Morgan Freeman. Floods! Looting! L@#dshedding! Eye-watering inflation! Humidity! (jks, we ♥️ some tropical vibes).
But DBN’s small business owners? They’re good. In fact, they’re not only good – they’re thriving. And they owe it all to their communities.
Our main man aka MC, Mashudu Modau – entrepreneurial innovator of note – sat down with Amy Gardiner of @humblecoffeeza, Ryan Duvenage and Dustin Weber of @thebondshed_events, and Zinhle Msweli of @my.basketshop to chat about how small businesses and community go hand in hand. (Plus, like, a boatload more – get all of the intel by watching it here.)
To catch you up on what went down, here’s a peek into some of the highlights of the night.
*Answers have been abridged.
Mash: What does community mean to you? And what does it mean to your small business?
Amy: We wouldn’t exist without ours. Community plays a pivotal part in every single facet of your business, from your suppliers to the team itself. And in a small community, I think the impact of their support is really visible, and that’s important because hopefully that can then inspire and fuel the growth of other small businesses.
Ryan: Yeah, absolutely, it’s very much the same thing. We wouldn’t exist without the community around us. We are connected on different levels as well. There’s the micro-community made up of people in our very building, the businesses around us. And sort of moving out from that, the Durban events community – which we’re intimately a part of – all the way up to a national level. Community is the essence of what we are.
Zinhle: Without the community, we are nothing. Our baskets are made by the grannies in our community – so our product is born out of our community.
Mash: In a world of constant and consistent distraction, where everyone is trying to build something, and there may be many other businesses that look similar to yours – how do you stand out from the noise and build your community?
Zinhle: You need to really love what you’re doing because if you don’t, you won’t have the energy needed to build your business or your community. When you love what you’re doing, you’re automatically creative and looking for ways to engage your community. My community [of customers] is online, which meant that I had to learn how to use Instagram and Meta. So I bought an online course and some books during lockdown and taught myself how. And it grew from there.
Ryan: As a small business owner, you need to be personally invested and you need to know every facet of your business. You need to work with your staff and teach them how to have the same passion as you do. That’s super important because no one’s going to love and care for your business as much as you do. In terms of standing out from the crowd, we’ve done things a little bit differently in terms of venues; we collaborate with people, and we don’t box people in here, this is a blank canvas. We work with a lot of different people who all have their own unique visions for their events. And I think that’s what sets us apart from a lot of other venues out there.
Amy: A huge part of our success is due to the staff who work at Humble Coffee. I’m very lucky that I have an amazing team, (and they won’t mind me saying this, that we are all just an eclectic bunch of weirdos), and we all just work so well together. I truly believe that when people genuinely enjoy what they’re doing, it’s really obvious to customers. Someone might forget about the cappuccino that they’ve just had, but they’ll remember the experience. That’s what sets us apart in our context.
Sho – inside info that’s more valuable than a generator – and that’s just a sliver of what went down! Resist the endless scroll (I see you!), and hop onto our YouTube channel for a full run-down.
(Then meet us on socials to share your take on the power of community in driving small business success)