#RebuildTogether. Telling the entrepreneurs’ story. Rolland Bouverie Ardour Corporate Services

Rolland Bouverie

Founding Director: Ardour Corporate Services (construction, civils, and facilities)

Established in 2013 and based in KwaZulu-Natal

“On Monday morning, I picked up my guys to go to Umhlanga for maintenance work at one of our client’s premises. We were about 20km from our destination when were stopped at an intersection by a group of people. The roads were already blocked, and we couldn’t move forward or backward.

Before this, we had downplayed the seriousness of the situation and didn’t think it would affect us much. As the group walked past us, some looked into our van and noticed we had valuables. They stopped us, greeted, and told us we were not allowed to go through. When I explained we just wanted to get to work, I was told that ‘if one family doesn’t eat, no family is allowed to eat.

Then they opened the van and pulled my guys out. We tried to fight back but eventually, I just told them take what they want, as long as they don’t touch the van. We suffered some bruises and scrapes from the physical altercation but were fortunate to not to be attacked with any sharp objects. The tally of the stolen goods comes to almost R40 000.

The entire experience has brought us even closer as a team and has taught us to pray. We now say a prayer before we get in the van going to – or coming from – a job. Yes, the loss of our power tools and materials is a blow that will take time to recover from, but no amount of money would ever have been enough to bring back a life had we lost one.

We are now looking to rebuild internally and externally. Within the company, my priority is to ensure that this event doesn’t take away the positive attitude of the team. I have to make sure we stick together and not allow this to diminish our ubuntu.

Externally, we would be grateful for some mental health wellness assistance, where a professional can do a deep dive of the issues. Already, COVID-19 has done a number on us, and we’ve taken a knock more than financially.

Going forward, we small business owners need to think more professionally in terms of our businesses, such as better insurance cover in case of such instances. We need to value ourselves more as entities so that we are able to cushion the blows when they come.

This is also where big businesses, such as JSE-listed companies, can come in. One of the ways might be to re-evaluate their CSI budgets and maybe divert some funds towards growing and helping SMMEs stay sustainable, compliant, and on a growth trajectory.

To every SMME entrepreneur that has been affected by the recent upheaval, please keep your head up. I know we are living in uncertain times, but as entrepreneurs, we know we have to either adapt or perish. This latest test can only make us stronger and more innovative.”

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