Why I chose to enter

Divesh Ramdhass, owner of Pharmacy at Spar Northway and 2013 competition entrant, shares some information with us about his business, insight into the pharmacy industry and discusses why he decided to enter the competition.

Briefly describe your business and the industry you operate in?

Pharmacy at Spar Northway was opened in December 2012 after being in operation for seven years as an independent stand-alone pharmacy, Northway Family-Care Pharmacy.

The pharmacy is community-based and focuses on the procurement, storage, compounding, counselling and dispensing of prescription drugs to patients. Always keeping our patients’ best interest at heart, we ensure that our services are completed with care and accuracy.

Another division of Pharmacy at Spar Northway sells over-the-counter medication to patients. Our specially trained staff make certain that all patients are advised on how to use the medication, what it is needed for and what the adequate treatment would be.

Other additional services we offer are through our in-store primary health care clinic facility which offers specialist health checks, such as blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol monitoring, drug screening, prostate irregularity checks, as well as weight reduction programmes.

Where did the business concept originate from and when did you start your business?

Pharmacies operate in an extremely demanding marketplace, where competition can be described as vigorous. The days of the independent retailer are numbered, and as a professional I was not willing to compromise my profession.

This led me to the decision to remarket and reintroduce my pharmacy to the community. My business concept comprised of a fresh and modern approach to a pharmacy that attracted not only those in need of medication, but also targets those in search of future health. The concept was to change the dull and boring image of the pharmacy by implementing a bright and vibrant atmosphere that would motivate the community to make use of.

Have you always aspired to start your own business?

The aspiration to open my own practice stemmed from the love that I have for my profession. I love being a pharmacist and that motivated me to start my own practice. I firmly believe that being a good pharmacist is dependent on your ability to maintain a good relationship with your customers, as this allows you to understand their needs, their conditions and makes treating their ailments much more effortless.

Briefly describe some of the challenges that you have experienced as an entrepreneur?

Being an entrepreneur is fraught with difficulties. At tertiary level you are trained to become a professional, but most entrepreneurs are never given any formal education on managing a business.

In the pharmaceutical sector where medical aids force members to get their medication from specific service providers to eliminate any short payments, decisions have to be made to ensure patients stay rather than stray. At the end of the day a good caring attitude ensures that my patients return to my store.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

No road is a smooth journey. In order to make your business a success you must keep your head up and follow through on your business plan, no matter how bleak your situation may seem. Believe in yourself and your employees, for that alone is motivation to keep your business momentum going. Make sure that all decisions are made carefully.

Why did you decide to enter the Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® competition?

This competition serves as a reminder that nothing is impossible. As my wife quotes to me “nothing is impossible… it’s all in the word… I’m possible”. This motivates me to achieve even further heights. The competition reminds of the importance to maintain the standard of my practice and think beyond the boundaries of my business. In addition, it gives me the exposure to drive my business forward.

Why would you recommend that fellow entrepreneurs get involved with initiatives such as Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year®?

Our country lacks the passion of entrepreneurs. Such competitions instil a sense of passion and motivation in those who have the skills and knowledge to become entrepreneurs in a country in dire need of their skills.

It encourages more and more people to take their ideas and skills to institutions such as Sanlam and Business Partners Limited, who can assist them in cultivating those skills and ideas into a required resource and service that South Africa desperately needs.