2013 competition entrant, Magriet Smit, shares some information with us about her business and why she decided to enter the competition.
Briefly describe your business and the industry you operate in?
Word4Word is a company that provides educational tutoring to school children and underprivileged children. Word4Word has two sub divisions:
- Word4Word Reading Therapy Word4Word reading therapists are trained and equipped with our special Word4Word recipe: play therapy techniques combined with visual therapy techniques, perceptual techniques and a lot of love.
- Word4Word Projects – Word4Word tutors are trained and equipped with the Word4Word Reading Programme to assist children at projects like soup kitchens, safe houses and children’s homes.
Where did the business concept originate from and when did you start your business?
While working in my ex-husband’s optometry practice, I noticed that a lot of children experienced difficulty while learning to read. I was under the impression that there might be something wrong with their eyesight, but after a while, I realised that most were struggling with reading skills.
I started providing unique reading lessons at the optometry practise and realised that the children enjoyed this method thoroughly. I decided to start developing this reading programme in more detail after giving birth to my son as I had more time on my hands as a housewife.
Soon after I decided to launch the programme and started to teach other women how to work with the programme.
We now have functioning projects in the Western-Cape, Gauteng and Namibia.
Briefly describe some of the challenges that you have experienced as an entrepreneur?
In the beginning phases of the business, while I was still writing the programme, I experienced a lot of negativity from various parties, all telling me that the concept would not be a success. It was challenging at the time to fight all of this negativity.
Also, as a mother of a son in Grade One, who is just starting to read himself, I sometimes found it challenging to balance personal and work life.
Finally, starting a business, with no external funding, was very challenging and definitely not as comfortable as working for a salary.
Why did you decide to enter the Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® competition?
As part of my role in the business, I have to spend a lot of time tutoring ‘off-site’ at locations such as safe houses, farm projects, and Aids orphanages. During this time, I also realised the demand and potential for the programme, which requires additional funding. So if we should win the prize money, the plan is to expand and focus on educating more children in South Africa and Namibia.
Why would you recommend that fellow entrepreneurs get involved with initiatives such as the Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year®?
Being an entrepreneur is similar to living the biggest adventure ever. This adventure is however a combination of the fear, adrenaline and long lonely hours full of big decisions that will impact not only your life, but those close to you.
It truly is inspiring to know that there are companies like Sanlam and Business Partners that are not only passionate about my company, but about me as an entrepreneur too.
By getting involved in these initiatives, we learn that we are not alone out there. The more of us who get involved, the stronger our entrepreneurial voice is.