Thursday, May 23, 2024

Former teacher gives laundry business idea a spin

Girlie Tshireletso (47) is not just a proud owner of Pure Mark Laundry services but also a former professional teacher. But before she finally settled for her current laundry business, Tshireletso had tried other forms of informal businesses.

“I have sold everything from maize cobs, cooked food, second hand clothing, cosmetics etc. I have even tried my hand at tendering but found out that it didn’t enhance my business skills. I wanted to build and grow a business not just gamble,” she adds.

Tshireletso left teaching in 2012 to explore entrepreneurship. She went on to do short courses like Project management and Leadership skills since she had no entrepreneurial skills.

In 2019 she started operating the laundromat services business in Mahalapye as part of the Guest house she was running at the time. Fast forward to 2020 when Covid-19 hit the economy and the hospitality business, Tshireletso had no option but to re-strategise on how best the company can gain from the problem.

The first major decision made was to close the guest house business, load laundry machines all the way to the capital Gaborone. The new home for Tshireletso’s business, now dubbed Pure Mark is Tsholofelo East, Gaborone. Pure Mark has since hired two employees.

Tshireletso freely shares that she knew it was an opportune time to run her business in Gaborone as there are many people who spend most of their time at work and have no time to handle their laundry, hence she also offers pick and drop services.

She also shares that running a laundromat has quite a number of challenges one of them being that there are laundry services which are were long established.

“There are people who stand on the road sides to offer maid services and some households own washing machines. These people are competition,” Tshireletso said.

While there are many laundromats in the city she says she does not fear tapping into any market because it is saturated.

She says her business is unique because she doesn’t charge to pick and drop clothes from her clients, as long as it’s a big bucket. She adds that people still get surprised by this and it has worked for her as she has had many referrals due to this. She also uses social media rigorously to market her business.

Girlie says she has always had a dream of owning a laundromat as she almost bought a laundromat in the past through CEDA. She says there were glitches as the owner wanted to leave and needed money immediately. This meant applying for a CEDA loan would take long.

She decided to start small without seeking any loans or funding. She managed to buy the machines through her savings because one of the requirements of owning a Guest house was to have washing machines. When she moved to Gaborone she bought more machines which were more industrialized.

Her advice to those that want to start small like her without asking for loans or funding is to be patient and disciplined. She says it’s very important to account for every single Thebe.

Tshireletso also recalled that even though Covid-19 affected her hospitality business negatively, it has affected her laundromat services quite positively because people who offer maid services on the road sides were not doing that due to movement restrictions.

“People were afraid to call in maid services because they feared for their children being in contact with strangers and that is when we took advantage. We waited by the gate with our masks and gloves on to pick up clients’ laundry,” she adds.

Tshireletso says government shouldn’t just focus on big businesses. She says for places like hospitals, procurement officers should invite at least 4 small businesses to do the work instead of giving it to one big business. Girlie Tshireletso can be reached on her phone: +267 74657363 or on her Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages.


Read this week's paper