Gauteng Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  02 Aug 2011

RECRUITMENT: Talent Africa Gives Hope to Post-recession Start-ups


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Executive search and recruitment are tough sectors to be in when corporates move from growth to expense management, freeze headcounts and simply sweat existing assets … but that has not inhibited the emergence of a new industry leader, Talent Africa.

The Hyde Park-based business has exceeded all its self-imposed growth targets since launch two years ago in the depths of recession.

Since then the business has repaid the seed capital provided by the founder team and built financial reserves to fund further growth. Talent Africa’s client-base today covers all corporate sectors, with strong representation from agri-business.

Founder-director Auguste (Gusti) Coetzer acknowledges that an estimated four out of five small local businesses fail within two years of starting out, but says no start-up is doomed just because economic fundamentals look daunting.

“Small means low overheads, eagerness to chase every lead and the ability to give every account the attention of the business principals,” says Coetzer.

“Our ability to channel top-level resources into every opportunity ensured a high rate of success when looking for corporate accounts. The same formula assured high levels of business retention. Almost all of our Year One clients are still with us.

“Retention is critical when every headline tells you the economy is shrinking and no one is hiring.”

She believes Talent Africa’s success highlights four lessons for start-out entrepreneurs.

1. Self-funding is smart funding … even in a low-interest environment using your own capital makes sense and motivates exceptional performance

2. Strong partners build strong businesses … a five-person team launched Talent Africa, four professional women and a seasoned businessman, contributing considerable and complementary expertise

3. Small doesn’t stop you being world class … embrace world best practice and seek like-minded international associates – in this case, DHR International, a US-based global leader in executive search

4. Be the solution you sell … prospective clients are looking to build multi-racial, multi-talented, gender-empowered top teams, so make sure you are what you sell by creating that self-same solution in your own business.

“Our own team is gender and racially balanced,” says Coetzer. “We also exemplify a mix of competencies that feature high on the executive search wish-list, including intense operational focus, problem-solving and decision-making strengths, empathy and emotional self-awareness.

“We’re happy to live our values. Belief in what you do is essential when the going gets tough.”

Though official statistics show economic recovery is under way, Talent Africa will not be changing its recession-tested business model.

“We plan to grow. We don’t plan to change,” says Gusti Coetzer. “The financial crisis lesson for long-term survivors is that exuberance is out, focus is in.

“We’ll stay close to our business and our clients … like any good start-up should.”

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