Second Office owner opens door for entrepreneurs to join

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Ten years of running East London’s highly successful Second Office (SO) rental company has put owner Sibongile Booi in the perfect position to take her business, and several entrepreneurs, on the next leg of her expansion journey.

“We are building an app that will allow anyone that needs temporary office space in the Eastern Cape to evaluate venues on the app and book in.”

With her experience in office rentals, both in East London and for 12 years in Canada, she said SO and her team had the right operational model to allow entrepreneurs to ease into the system.

She said business property owners in the province’s “peri-towns” such as Mthatha, Komani, Butterworth and Mkhanda, could convert their buildings to Second Office operations.

She said SO had the systems and experience.

International and local companies, large and small, looking beyond the restrictions of the pandemic, would need temporary office accommodation in their early phases of exploration and start-up, she said.

So many entrepreneurs fail because they outlay excessive cash in the first phase of their expansion or start
“So many entrepreneurs fail because they outlay excessive cash in the first phase of their expansion or start.

“Renting a decent office space, which has ample parking, boardrooms, fully furnished, at a good address, with all the office services and a receptionist, saves a lot of money.

“People pay only for the time they use the premises, although we do have clients in East London that rent by the month. They come and go when they need to and the office is always clean.”

Booi moved to Canada shortly after matriculating, taking up the offer of a university scholarship.

She said her mother was a dressmaking entrepreneur, and also a political activist.

“Prior to Canada, my mother’s activism forced us, as a family, to flee to Lesotho.”

Booi graduated with an engineering degree from Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada.

She then joined the Accenture group, where she gained 12 years experience as a management consultant for a leading global company.

During my time with Accenture I travelled regularly on business trips, and the company made use of serviced offices in areas where they did not have branches. The concept was perfect and I realised on returning to SA in 2011 that it would work in East London
“During my time with Accenture I travelled regularly on business trips, and the company made use of serviced offices in areas where they did not have branches.

“The concept was perfect and I realised on returning to SA in 2011 that it would work in East London.

“Now, as we approach ten years in business, we are taking the next logical step.”

She said the new vision was a blend of “Airbnb and a franchise operation”.

SO would provide all the systems and back-office control. It would handle booking and payments, with the entrepreneur members looking after the properties.

“It will be a true partnership, beneficial to all parties.”

Booi is a member of the international entrepreneurs organisation, Startup Grind, and SO hosted one of their first meetings in EL.

She is a member of the Business Management Forum, Toastmasters, a past president of Rotary Club of Beacon Bay, and was recognised as one of the Top 100 Women in the Border Kei Region.

SO was second in the 2016 Eskom Business Investment competition.

Booi is also an ultra-marathon runner, completing both the 56km Two Oceans and the nearly 90km Comrades marathons.

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