From SBA to MBA: ‘Never give up on your dreams’
It was during 2011 that Rushana Hartnick started working towards her dream of having the first indoor, heated swimming pool in Mitchells Plain. She gained her experience as a swimming coach from working for a swimming school in the southern suburbs of Cape Town.
Water safety and swimming were not priorities in the community of Mitchells Plain as home owners do not have swimming pools.
This meant that Rushana needed the money to build the pool as well as the marketing skills to convince the community of the need for water safety skills and the benefits for their children when they take up swimming as a sport.
Her mother assisted her by taking out a second bond on their house during 2011. This cash injection allowed her to build the pool. She also won a small vehicle in a competition at a local grocery store which she sold to put a roof over the pool. Taking on the task of marketing her business she was able to open the doors of Little Mermaids Swimming School in February 2012. The first 35 swimmers enrolled.
Struggling to grow her swimming school, Rushana realised that she needed business skills and not only coaching skills. In 2014 she applied to participate in the Small Business Academy’s Development Programme at the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB). Here, she acquired the skills to run her business professionally.
She also had an MBA alumnus from USB as mentor to guide her through the decisions she had to make. During the nine months at the SBA she received media coverage in Sarie and Destiny magazines, and on TV programmes such as KOLLIG and DAGBREEK.
Rushana worked hard to implement what she had learnt from the SBA Development Programme. She started a crèche initiative during 2015 which involved picking up young children from crèches in the community for swimming lessons as most parents worked during the day and could not bring their little ones for lessons. This created a need for transport. Within a year, she bought a 22-seater bus which was paid off as the number of swimmers grew to 600.
During 2016 she won second place at the Western Cape Premier’s Entrepreneurship Recognition Awards in the category for the Most Innovative Business. The number of swimmers was now capped at 725 to ensure the ongoing delivery of quality service. The swimming school is currently employing 12 coaches, trained with Swim SA through the school.
The year 2017 turned out to be a difficult one due to the water restrictions. Rushana had to buy water from other areas to ensure the water in her swimming pool stays hygienic and does not become over-chlorinated. This put some financial strain on the business but she coped and did not have to let any employees go.
During this time, Rushana also started working on another dream by applying for the Postgraduate Diploma in Business Management and Administration (PGD BMA) at USB. She was accepted through the recognition of prior learning system with her SBA certificate and business experience giving her leverage.
Rushana is using 2018 to complete her PGD BMA while her husband stepped in as manager of the swimming school.
The PGD BMA, according to Rushana, is just a building block to reach her dream of doing her MBA at USB.
Here’s a video where she shares her PGD BMA experience so far