CityPress - - News - AVAN­TIKA SEETH avan­tika.seeth@city­

For Masasa Makhetha, who was born and raised in Ficks­burg, a small town nes­tled at the foot of the Im­perani Moun­tain in the Free State, life was hard. In 1999, his ma­tric year, he moved to the Mpumalanga town of Se­cunda to live with his sis­ter. A car ac­ci­dent had left his po­lice­man father un­able to work and his mother was a do­mes­tic worker. The fam­ily was left to sur­vive on their govern­ment pen­sions.

De­spite this, Makhetha man­aged to com­plete his BCom de­gree at the Univer­sity of Pre­to­ria in 2002. He says that times were tough, and he man­aged to fund his stud­ies through the Na­tional Stu­dent Fi­nan­cial Aid Scheme as well as a study loan that his sis­ter took out on his be­half.

But his slog paid off and to­day Makhetha (34) is the proud owner of Thasasa (Pty) Ltd, a com­pany based in Mpumalanga ser­vic­ing the min­ing in­dus­try by pro­vid­ing struc­tural steel prod­ucts and other ser­vices.

Be­fore start­ing his busi­ness, Makhetha com­pleted his ar­ti­cles at au­dit­ing firm KPMG and went on to work for min­ing com­pany Del­mas Coal, a sub­sidiary of Kuyasa Min­ing. It was here that he was ex­posed to the min­ing sec­tor and gained the skills and know-how to start his busi­ness.

He at­tributes a lot of his suc­cess and busi­ness acu­men to Ayanda Bam, di­rec­tor and owner of Kuyasa min­ing.

In 2011, he re­signed and reg­is­tered Thasasa af­ter re­al­is­ing the avail­abil­ity of op­por­tu­ni­ties for black men in the min­ing sec­tor. The com­pany started trad­ing in 2013.

Makhetha’s com­pany spe­cialises in the man­u­fac­tur­ing and in­stal­la­tion of ven­ti­la­tion struc­tures for un­der­ground sys­tems in the mines.

He says the In­dus­trial De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (IDC) has played a piv­otal role in the suc­cess of Thasasa, which em­ploys 90 peo­ple.

“When we started, it was 30 [em­ploy­ees] and, as we got more jobs, we in­creased our em­ploy­ees to 90. Af­ter we re­ceived fund­ing from the IDC, a cou­ple of other clients be­came in­ter­ested in us. I’m al­ready work­ing with Glen­core un­der­ground min­ing and I am at the fi­nal stage with Sa­sol Min­ing, which has showed in­ter­est, and other small min­ing houses,” he says.

Makhetha’s com­pany name has an in­ter­est­ing his­tory of its own.

“When I started with the com­pany, I was with a lady called Thandi, and so Thasasa is a com­bi­na­tion of her name and my name, al­though I am no longer with her,” he laughs.

Makhetha’s jour­ney to be­ing a busi­ness owner hasn’t been with­out its prob­lems though.

“As a young en­tre­pre­neur, you face the chal­lenges of un­der­stand­ing the mar­ket and how to break into a white­dom­i­nated in­dus­try.

“Also to us blacks, as a young per­son be­ing your em­ployer, and you are older than him, is one chal­lenge which has been dif­fi­cult to nav­i­gate. Your be­hav­iour in the work en­vi­ron­ment also counts, wher­ever you go, there are peo­ple look­ing up to you,” he says.

Makhetha says the process of ap­ply­ing for fund­ing from the IDC wasn’t ar­du­ous.

“It took me three months to get the fund­ing. I knew about the IDC for a long time and I also got re­ferred to them by other guys who had dealt with the IDC.

“I found a con­sul­tant at the IDC who helped me with my ap­pli­ca­tion. He was very happy to as­sist and the ap­pli­ca­tion went through suc­cess­fully.



The IDC sup­ports busi­nesses and en­trepreneurs that show ini­tia­tive and prom­ise

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