The success of the OBC brand can to a considerable extent be attributed to the untiring efforts of our hardworking family of franchisees. We genuinely appreciate that but, being caught up in the daily pressures resulting from managing a rapidly growing business, we may not always adequately communicate it.

We have now decided to change that by creating this series of articles. We’ll introduce one established OBC franchisee each month and recognise their accomplishments.

We are fortunate to have many franchisees in our family who deserve to be featured. Inevitably, this posed the question, “who should be featured first?” After much deliberation, we settled on Anathi Ntshebe, our Sterkspruit franchisee.

Although he is a relative new member of our family, we selected him because the perseverance he has shown in his quest to become an OBC franchisee will serve as an inspiration to us all.

Anathi was born and grew up in Sterkspruit in the Eastern Cape. After completing his university studies, he was admitted to a franchisee cadet programme offered by NAMAC, a now defunct subsidiary of the dti. In addition to exposing him to the necessary theory, Anathi received work experience at three reputable franchisors.

One of these franchisors was Cash Converters. Working there helped Anathi discover his love for retail and he decided there and then that one day, he would set up a retail store in Sterkspruit that would serve the community he grew up in.

Unfortunately, setting up a retail store takes lots of cash and Anathi didn’t have enough. Undeterred, he embarked on a successful career in banking. Life as a banker didn’t appeal to him all that much but he was determined to build up capital by diligently saving money, topping his savings up with the expected pension pay-out and use the resulting sum to realise his dream.

Initially, Anathi wasn’t quite sure what kind of retail store he wanted to own. He had enjoyed his time at Cash Converters but knew that this concept wouldn’t work in Sterkspruit. It was when he entered an OBC store for the first time that he knew that this was it. From then onwards, he spent at least two Saturdays a month visiting his nearest OBC store, just to take in the atmosphere.

Five years later, Anathi approached OBC Franchising for the first time but was reluctantly turned down because he did not have sufficient capital. However, Anathi wasn’t prepared to give up. Impressed by his persistency, OBC’s head office team put him in touch with SEFA. Unfortunately, the gap between his savings and the minimum contribution required to qualify for SEFA funding was too large and SEFA initially rejected his application. Once more, Anathi persevered.

Previously, Anathi had approached various funding institutions with a request to help close the funding gap, with the Black Business Supplier Development Programme operated by the Department of Small Business Development among them.

OBC and SEFA approached them and succeeded in securing a grant on Anathi’s behalf. This made the deal bankable for SEFA and the rest, as they say, is history.

In March 2019, after working for Nedbank for 13 years, Anathi left the corporate world to realise his dream. He received three months of intensive training at OBC Head Office and at various company- owned stores before receiving the keys to his own OBC store in Sterkspruit. Anathi was in seventh heaven, especially because it soon emerged that Sterkspruit had the trading potential he was hoping for.

Having access to an ultramodern store that offers a wide range of chicken, meat and other food essentials in an attractive setting and at affordable prices appealed to the local community. They supported the store from day 1 and trading has remained brisk ever since.

Anathi sees the franchise arrangement with OBC as an invaluable asset. The way he sees it, receiving initial training and support was only the beginning. Having access to OBC’s significant intellectual property is an important plus as is the fact that OBC’s marketing campaigns bring feet through the doors of his store but there is more.

Anathi considers having access to a team of experts who provide advice and practical assistance where needed to be the most important benefit of being a franchisee. “No matter what the problem is, all I need to do is pick up the phone and say, ‘guys, this is what happened, how do I fix it?’ and they will suggest a solution that actually works” he tells us.

Currently, Anathi operates the business single-handedly seven days a week. He accepts that eventually, he will have to employ a store manager, but he feels that he isn’t ready just yet to take this step.

When asked if, looking back, he feels the slightest regret about having left the relative comfort and security of the banking world and city life, Anathi’s answer is an emphatic “no.” For him, happiness is to operate his own OBC store and being of service to the community he grew up in.