In a surprising twist of events, readers of sheqafrica.com suddenly found the website requires payment to access its content. This happened after De Novo Media decided to start generating revenue to keep the site going, after it bought the website from Advantage ACT in May 2016.
De Novo Media sent an email to its major shareholders on 17 April 2017 announcing the intention to sell its share in sheqafrica.com and offered them first right of refusal. De Novo Media’s Stakeholder Relationship Manager, said in the email, “We bought the site, with the intention of creating opportunities for SHEQ consultants and training providers to showcase their skills and services, events and other products in the form of advertising, but the on-take is just not viable. We had a few contributions from Women in SHEQ, and Dr. Scheepers and regular advertising from Cygma SHEQ and recently also from SHEQContractor, but the cost of the site licensing, hosting fees and editorial staff was not recovered and we are forced to shut it down or sell out. We introduced a subscription of R45 per month, which is far lower than subscriptions by other general news publications, but this resulted in a drop in subscribers. De Novo Media can no longer continue funding a charity system, which in fact offers valuable information, which otherwise would have been rather expensive.”
Africa’s largest independent SHEQ Magazine was started in June 2007 by Ben Fouché, owner of Real Babe Media and co-founder of Advantage ACT. From a slow start it gradually grew into a top publication, recognised by Google as a vital source of SHEQ information, and an integral part of many practitioners’ daily work routine.
De Novo Media and a group of private investors bought the website from Advantage ACT in an effort to make advertising open to all sheq service providers. But after various attempts and invitations the website did not generate sufficient revenue to keep it on its asset register.
On Monday, 17 April 2017, the decision was made to shut it down or sell it.
Rudy Maritz, CEO of the Cygma Group, which also owns a 25% share in sheqafrica.com and a regular contributor responded to the invitation.
“I have previously been accused for running down the sheq profession during my involvement with NIOCCSA, and I can fully understand why De Novo wants to sell out. But, Cygma SHEQ has been a loyal supporter of the website since 2015, and we will continue to support it, even if it means we have to sponsor its up-time. But, we will use it to our advantage.”
Sheqafrica.com the official magazine of the Cygma Group
- De Novo Media will be closed down and its debt taken over by the Cygma Group. Shareholders will receive 50% in an Share-option exchange.
- Newsletters will be sent out every second week, and no longer weekly. It will still be free.
- A “Health and Safety Made Simple” section will replace the current editions and will focus on the implementation of H&S in the SMME sector.
- A subscription service, offering specialist advise, will be available (as a separate edition) to employers, not SHEQ Practitioners,
- RFQ.Contractors will get a make-over
- Health-Africa.co.za will continue as usual and focus on Public and Occupational Health in Africa,
- safetyofficer4hire.co.za will be shut down due to lack of development and content. The domain name will be made available for sale.
Economic Stress in SHEQ
According to Maritz, the SHEQ fraternity is under severe stress as a result of the economic down-turn and the spill-off from the Junk Status downgrade will affect SHEQ spending in the short to medium term. Employment of permanent sheq positions will decrease between now and 2020 and we can safely forecast a decrease in consultancies over the next few years. We have seen an increase in liquidations of H&S consultants and fewer enquiries for ISO courses are coming through from the private sector. “From a strategic point, we will be foolish to allow sheqafrica.com to be shut down.” Maritz concluded.
Who owns what?
For those who are always wondering who is who in the SHEQ zoo, sheqafrica.com is owned by:
- CHSEMS(Pty)Ltd – (Shane Lishman) 50%,
- Cygma SHEQ(SA)(Pty)Ltd – (Rudy Maritz et al) 50% and
- in the near future SHEQ Africa(Pty)Ltd will become the third shareholder.
The 2016 valuation of sheqafrica.com was R120 000. This value could be lower in Q2-2017 as a result of the change in strategy, but it remains higher than the original purchase price. Nevertheless, the buy-out is an increase in the Cygma Group’s capital value. As to the price to be paid by SHEQ Africa (Pty)Ltd for a majority stake in the website, Maritz had the following to say: ”We have made a considerable loan to De Novo Media when they started out, and the loan is still due after 11 months. I think it was a matter of enough is enough. During the last 2 years we have had enough losses due to the funding of SHEQ professionals wanting to become consultants. This profession is not for lazy people, it is not for the faint of heart and is most certainly not for the Technology impaired. Sometimes I am amazed at the very people who manage section 37(2) agreements at great expense to others, having such a low level of honour when it comes to their own pockets. This is a business, and it takes money to make money. SHEQ does not just happen; you have to grind at it, make it fit and polish it. It takes guts and commitment. Sheqafrica.com will stay, even if only to prove we have both.”
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