Nhlanhla Mthembu has a dream to change the world one conference at a time with his business venture, Bizdev Concepts. He has a passion for social development and education, and Bizdev is chasing that passion with stealthy determination.
Coming from a conference coordination background, Nhlanhla had all the skills required at his fingertips for Bizdev. “I used to coordinate events for up to 2000 delegates. It was hectic but I loved it,” Nhlanhla talks about his previous position. After a few years his sister approached him with the opportunity to be a marketing manager for the logistic business she freshly started. “When the recession hit in 2008, we started interacting with other small businesses to create a network to secure clients.” It is through this networking that Nhlanhla realised there was a need within small businesses for basic business training.
“When I realised these businesses severely needed training, I started doing what I did best, organise conferences.” In the beginning conferences ranged between 50-200 delegates from the neighbourhoods of Alexandra, Tembisa and Soweto. The focus of the conferences were that of basic business skills in HR systems and marketing. “I realised they still craved more so we grew to topics of social entrepreneurship and innovation.” Nhlanhla started incorporating NGOs and non-profit organisations, focussing conferences on innovation, collaboration and a sharing economy. “I wanted to build a big community around the common interest of social development,” Nhlanhla explains.
“The big difference between co-ordinating conferences for clients and creating conferences is that I suddenly became a researcher, content developer and editor.” Bizdev Concepts, however, has now evolved to the point that Nhlanhla only needs to manage the conferences. These conferences have even grown to the point of creating conferences especially for international delegates. But Nhlanhla’s dream doesn’t just end there. He wants to expand to owning conference facilities around the country, building training facilities around disadvantaged communities that will allow entrepreneurs access to innovation training.
Bizdev Concepts is famous for three signature conferences, namely Disrupt Africa; focused on disruptive innovation in Africa, Change-Makers Rendezvous; focused on social entrepreneurial innovation and Juniors Innovation Conference; a conference for grade 10 to first year students about the importance of entrepreneurial development and innovation.
“After joining MEDO, my mind was opened,” Nhlanhla explains, “I never saw the potential for myself to scale to the size I have grown my business. I always saw myself in the community, I just never saw my possibilities.” Apart from the growth Nhlanhla experienced in Bizdev, he is now also looking forward to the possibility of training entrepreneurs himself to help them realise the potential for growth.
“I believe I wil stay here at MEDO for life. I want to remain incubated, it’s good to remain in an environment with other entrepreneurs at a creative level. Here we are constantly innovating, constantly discussing, and as an entrepreneur I feel I need to be in such an environment.”