The prospects of success for Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) funded projects seem to be largely dependent on the business acumen, skills and experience that the investors acquire in the early stages of development of their initiative.
So that those who start small, may be better exposed to the real challenges to forego in the terrain of their chosen business in order to be successful.
For example, Mogolodi Oabile, trading under the auspices of M.O Transporters in Palapye related how he graduated from selling sand to an all time Construction material Supplier that he now is.
“When I started this project in 2001, I was selling only sand, but as you can see now am always on my toes to meet the ballooning demand for bricks, concrete and different types of sand (showing around his plot),” said Oabile.
He pointed out that while he started in 2000 as a sheer sand supplier, and secured a brick moulding machine through Financial Assistance Policy (FAP) in 2001, the real journey to riches took off in 2003 when he got a P350 000.00 loan from CEDA to buy a tipper truck.
He then applied for an additional P186 000 to buy a machine for loading sand.
Seven years later, Oabile pointed out that he believes he now understands better what makes his business tick.
He proudly intimated how he was able to repay the P536 000 within the first five years with ease, and applied again in 2009 for P280 000 to boost his project, adding that he is very happy with his profit and repayment profile.
However, he expressed concern that at the current scale , his business income is likely to be prejudiced by the mandatory condition set by the land board for sand miners to pop out P12 000.00 per annum, regardless of whether they did take the sand or not.
“Thus, for a small scale producer like me this is too cumbersome as the fee could encroach into my profit,” posited Oabile.
Oabile further acknowledged that, although there have not been any serious accidents in his firm, the use of manually operated machines, remains a challenge at it leaves the safety of employees at risk.
Again the effect of manual equipment is that the number of employees that has to engage in the use of the machines taken against time and proficiency as well as the profit margin cannot be compatible.
In response, James Moribame Head of Property and Manufacturing Development unit at CEDA explained that there is an advantage in maintaining a consistent and predictable track record.
“Certainly, if a business shows to have achieved a satisfactory level of confidence ,and sustainable market , there would definitely be no reason why they cannot be helped expand and get their operations automated,” said Moribame, adding that the agency obviously has vested interest in the ultimate expansion and positive growth of the projects they funded.
On account of the latest policy decisions by Government to repossess undeveloped land, Oabile said he found a niche as everybody is in a rush to develop their plots.
The relationship he has developed with PPC Cement supplier and Shell fuel suppliers, has made it easier to respond promptly to the market demand without having to worry about cash flow.
Nnoi Mongala, another CEDA beneficiary who owns Mokgosi Guest House in Palapye, buttressed the point that starting small affords one the learning experience necessary to overcome the challenges in the industry.
“Right now, I know the best time that brings business better money, and I keep my lodge up to the required standards and best practice,“ said Mongala.
She added that in all instances that she asked for extra financing from CEDA, it has been her track record that negotiated on her behalf to win CEDA’s favour.