Allan Gray launches R750,000 fund to invest in young entrepreneurs at ALA

May 17th, 2011

Thando Mhlambiso, on behalf of Allan Gray, has announced the creation of the Allan Gray Venture Fund of R750,000.  This fund will allow student projects to apply for funding from an “investment committee.”

The cornerstone of the two-year ALA experience is the Culminating Project, in which each student builds a business or innovative social venture and gains valuable hands-on experience as an entrepreneur. Each of these young entrepreneurs discover a range of adverse issues that they will face in the “real world:” leadership, team management and funding. The last issue, funding, is one that the Allan Gray Venture Fund will address, allowing studetns to explore other chaellenges more deeply.

Members of Allan Gray will actively participate in the management and oversight of the fund: They will visit the Academy to evaluate student pitches and business plans, select recipients and determine the size of seed and later-stage investments, and sit on the boards of funded companies to provide operational guidance and support.

Student businesses and projects are run as realistically as possible, with oversight from a board of directors and professional auditing of their books. Many of these student businesses have been hindered by their success. Without access to VC funding, these businesses have run into problems with supply, cash flow and myriad issues that any entrepreneur would recognize.

Held to high standards, the students need to prove not only viability, but responsibility before any funds are released to them, and must track and account for all funds used in a professional manor.

Some Current Student-Run Businesses

Agro Experts
An on-campus chicken farm which aims to save money for the Academy while offering locally farmed, fresh food to the student body.  

AgroExperts has made quite a few strides this year. The school administration added to the students’ initial equity injection of ZAR2500 (obtained from winning Entrepreneurship competition and fundraising) with ZAR4000 investment. These funds were channelled into the construction of the chicken house, which has been completed, instigating the commencement of business for AgroExperts. The total of 24 layers from Kiepersol poultry farm have been brought on campus and the team enjoys an average of 10 eggs per day. Finally, a few contracts have been signed between our current and prospective customers with the help of the CFO and the entrepreneurship department. The team continues to seek for new ways of persifying the business so as to increase revenue.

GigaVault
An on-campus bank which provides financial services (including loans and savings accounts) to the student body and other student run businesses. GigaVault has created a cashless electronic economy within the campus.

GigaVault began its second financial year eager to launch new products after an overhaul of the cash disbursement business model. They developed a pre- purchase package which required strategic partnerships with other businesses on campus. After rigorous analysis of the ALA economy revenues from the package were invested in perse portfolios. To-date GigaVault has sought to redefine its business model with a backbone in Commercial Banking. The GigaVault team is excited to develop sophisticated loan structures that will revolutionize the business environment on campus.

Chani’s Café
An on-campus eatery that offers higher end snacks and light meals.

This year at Chani’s café has been a very exciting for the business. The first term, we zere fortunate enough to employ 10 students from the ALA class of 2012 and introduced them to the different aspect of the business.  We launched a new service named Fortune 300 in October 2010. This is a pre-paid package that would satisfy the customers in terms of food from the café and hair services from Midas Touch with the coordination and customer relations from GigaVault. We offer ice cream on Saturdays; eggs and bacon for breakfast on Sunday and burgers on Monday. This generated enough profits for larger operations. Entering the second term, Chani’s put more energy and focus on weekly operations, opening the café every fourth night thus providing students with an environment in which they could relax, socialize and most importantly enjoy great food. Chani’s sold chapattis, cakes, hot dogs, pizzas, and cakes ¬¬– all cooked by the employees.

Footprints
An on-campus creator of clothing and memorabilia related to African Leadership Academy.

The last fiscal year has been an enabling period for business. This is due to the increased number of external events being held on campus that have served as a larger pool of Footprints’ customers. We have successfully launched two new products in the market, branded water bottles and magic mugs, and we are on the negotiation table for a USD4,000 loan to expand the business. An automated sales system is under construction and the business’s website will be launched before the end of term with full online sales capabilities.

We are confident that the ingenuity of our students will generate attractive profits over time — profits which the fund will then reinvest in the business ideas of subsequent generations of young leaders.



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