Since the COVID-19 pandemic has changed people’s lives across the globe, being a business owner has become increasingly difficult everywhere. But being a business owner in the South African market holds its own challenges. Hannelie Bronner has always been on the path to being a business owner. Both her parents were business owners, and her brother owns his own business as well.
Not only is Hannelie a qualified remedial teacher, but she has had 17 years of experience working with children with learning difficulties in the UK. She also holds a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership, specialising in Inclusive Education. So it is fair to say that Hannelie’s business journey would always involve making a difference in young lives.
“I worked in the UK as a Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) for about six years. In the school, we had a lot of children with dyslexia who did reading and spelling interventions. Despite this, I quickly noticed their memory issues would continue. We would cover a sound extensively, and they would be able to read it fluently, but the next week they and we would have to start from scratch,” says Hannelie.
Hannelie started looking for something to develop memory and came across an online program available in England. The program did basic cognitive development as well as sound knowledge. “I started using this program with the children and found that after a year, their progress tripled in that period.”
When she was looking at returning to South Africa, she knew she didn’t want to just work in remedial teaching but rather open her own business and bring that cognitive development to learners who really need it.
During her research, she discovered that Edublox does integrative cognitive, literacy, and numeracy skills development and immediately knew she wanted to open her own franchise. Soon after, she purchased the Durbanville franchise as a going concern in 2018.
But being a business owner in South Africa posed different challenges from those she imagined whilst working with children in the UK. “In England, everything is funded by the state. I could run whatever program I wanted as long as I could justify it, and it benefitted the learners. In South Africa, that is very different because education is not free.”
As a business owner, Hannelie says, she had to put the legwork in early. “I had to learn that it is important to get your company strong enough so that it can weather any big changes that might affect customers’ abilities to spend on luxuries. But luckily, education is important to South Africans. Children’s learning will always be important, even when things are going badly in certain sectors.”
When asked what her advice to new business owners was, she stated, “being creative, adaptable and remaining emotionally calm admits storms whilst keeping a long-term goal in mind.”
Today Hannelie does not only own her own successful business but has been successful in registering her Edublox EASY program as a school. She was also recently appointed to the position of Educational Programme Manager for Edublox in Southern Africa.
But Hannelie is far from slowing down. “In the near future, I hope to have a few more satellites. Our school is growing, but I think there is even more room for growth. Currently, I only serve a small part of my area; those who can get to me easily. Others have quite a drive to me or need to resort to interactive Zoom lessons. Soon, I am hoping to go to distant clients, rather than having them come to me.”