Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Budding entrepreneur eyes lucrative mining equipment supply

By Patience Radisoeng

“I am a young, inspirational driven and vibrant young man who is active, determined to be genuinely creative and ambitious to perform and produce standardized long term results for the company or any organization’s set objectives”.

This is how Ilaki Tshabang (30) introduces himself to the world of LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a business and employment-oriented service that operates via websites and mobile apps. Founded on December 28, 2002, and launched on May 5, 2003, it is mainly used for professional networking, including employers posting jobs and job seekers posting their CVs.

Tshabang ÔÇô now the founding managing director of Coltan Equipment and Machinery (Pty) Ltd, possibly created his LinkedIn account at a time when he thought he can get a job in the mining world.

Little did he know then that it would be a matter of time before he establish his company which now has hired two employees including himself.

The company, registered in 2015 supplies equipment to mining companies with focus on geology, mineral exploration, and science as well as laboratory.

The Tutume born geologist graduated with Bachelor of Science degree in geology at the University of Botswana.

“During my university years I realized that there are lots of equipment used in our mining industry but almost all the suppliers are not locals or not based in Botswana. I did my research and gathered that our mines do not have those items available locally and at times they would order and wait for the items to be delivered and Botswana being a country relying on mineral deposits, such delays should not be happening hence I registered this company to close that gap,” he said.

Adding that he has been working on contracts since he graduated and his last contract was with the MSA Group at Lucara Diamond mine in Boteti which came to an end on the 8th of March 2019.

Currently the company has only one employee, a 20 year old young lady who is his salesperson.

However he also stated that his business has multiple challenges but his biggest is competing with companies from outside who have been in the business for long.

He noted; “As a young person I need to push hard to convince the buyers within the mines that locals are also capable of supplying such equipment and having my country’s interest at heart I always make sure I get the best prices for them.”

Further he said another challenge is finances because sometimes he gets purchase orders that are higher than what he would be having in his account at that time, where banks and micro lenders will also need letter of credit with the suppliers and in most cases suppliers are not willing to do that.

“The other challenge is high rental fees, as a starter and when you try getting a cabin, the council does not allow one to operate such business in a mobile structure though to me it would be a stationary structure,” he emphasized.

He said his plea would be for government to allow them to operate their business in cabins as starters until they are set to rent premises.

Tshabang declared; “Departments and private companies should have faith in locals that some businesses might have been done by companies from outside but as locals we are capable of providing the same services and at competitive prices rather than just dismissing us before they give us a chance to proof ourselves.”

As he stated that in a year’s time he want to see himself having a small space where he will be stocking some smaller items which are needed on daily basis by the mines and an additional employee who will be a sales person in the store.

Whereas; “In 5 years I need to see myself having a warehouse where I will be keeping my equipment in bulk and having 2 additional people, a delivery driver and someone looking after the warehouse dispatch. And where we would be assembling most of our equipment instead of importing them as finished products. My main aim is to grow my business, expand it, start and invest in manufacturing business opportunities so as help curb unemployment in our country.”

To other budding entrepreneurs he said “I would say let us keep grinding and help curb unemployment in our country.”

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The Telegraph September 30

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 30, 2020.