A PROJECT IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE
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