All-black fe­male firm in at 1st place

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - SPORT - Luy­olo Mken­tane

BUSI­NESS­WOMAN Mole­bo­geng “Lebo” Mbethe, 38, has bro­ken the mould in the R13 bil­lion a month pe­tro­leum in­dus­try. She is the first black wo­man to supply the lu­cra­tive com­mod­ity to JSElisted African Rain­bow Min­er­als’ Nko­mati Nickel Mine.

Mbethe, who holds a BCom accounting de­gree from the Univer­sity of Cape Town, is the chief ex­ec­u­tive and founder of Ad­vent Oil, a 100 per­cent black fe­male-owned pe­tro­leum supply com­pany she es­tab­lished in 2006.

A Shell Branded Dis­trib­u­tor, it has fuel dis­tri­bu­tion de­pots in Mpumalanga, Gaut­eng, the North­ern Capt, the Western Cape, North West and the Free State.

Mbethe, who en­tered a fu­el­sup­ply agree­ment with Shell South Africa in 2014 for the supply of diesel, said she was the first black wo­man to supply the Mpumalangabased Nko­mati Mine, which gob­bles about four mil­lion litres of fuel a month.

Ad­vent Oil’s clien­tele in­clude JSE-listed con­struc­tion and en­gi­neer­ing group WBHO, man­ganese miner UMK, and Liketh In­vest­ment, which sup­plies coal to Eskom.

In an in­ter­view with Busi­ness Re­port in Jo­han­nes­burg, Mbethe said she sup­plied min­ing, lo­gis­tics and con­struc­tion com­pa­nies, with about 100 mil­lion litres of fuel per an­num.

She said the coun­try con­sumed a bil­lion litres of fuel per month, adding that she had dou­bled the size of her busi­ness.

Mbethe said her turnover now stood in ex­cess of a bil­lion rand.

She em­ploys more than 70 peo­ple and has eight sub­con­trac­tors who are in the trans­port sec­tor, as part of her cor­po­rate so­cial in­vest­ment.

Mbethe, who has a mar­ket­ing back­ground, is a for­mer em­ployee

The gov­ern­ment had to is­sue li­cences to new en­trants to al­low them to im­port as we ran out of fuel

of con­sumer goods com­pany Unilever and lead­ing al­co­hol bev­er­age com­pany Brand­house. She said she had made and lost a lot of money dur­ing her re­ward­ing ca­reer. How­ever, she en­tered the lu­cra­tive pe­tro­leum in­dus­try by chance.

The 2005 fuel cri­sis in the coun­try spurred then Min­er­als and En­ergy Min­is­ter Lindiwe Hen­dricks to set up a com­mis­sion of in­quiry headed by ad­vo­cate Marumo Mo­er­ane.

The Mo­er­ane Com­mis­sion looked at whether reg­u­la­tions were needed to pre­vent fu­ture short­ages. It also fo­cused on whether oil com­pa­nies were obliged to hold stocks of fin­ished prod­ucts in re­spect of com­mer­cially pru­dent norms as well as the terms of the ba­sic fuel price, the mech­a­nism that de­ter­mines pe­tro­leum prices.

“One of the rec­om­men­da­tions of that com­mis­sion was that gov­ern­ment needed to is­sue li­cences to new en­trants in or­der to be able to al­low them to im­port and in­crease the se­cu­rity of supply for the coun­try as we had run out of fuel,” Mbethe said.

“I was in a con­sor­tium with other peo­ple; we were then able to se­cure one of th­ese li­cences. That’s ba­si­cally how I started in fuel in 2006. We started im­port­ing fuel via Mozam­bique. We would then man­age the en­tire pro­cess of get­ting the cus­tomer, we would buy from trad­ing houses, bring it into the coun­try and supply cus­tomers. From there I kind of built the busi­ness.”

When it was es­tab­lished, Ad­vent Oil was about tak­ing ad­van­tage of the fact that many of its cus­tomers had trans­porters that were work­ing for them and the trans­porters did not have any way to pick up fuel.

“This was be­fore fill­ing sta­tions could ser­vice big trucks, where a fill­ing sta­tion was just too small for a truck to be able to come and pick up fuel. So, we used to supply truck­ing com­pa­nies in that way”.

Speak­ing about her part­ner­ship with Shell, Mbethe said her com­pany was a Shell Branded Dis­trib­u­tor and Shell had given a com­mit­ment to grow­ing Ad­vent Oil into a mini Shell.

“Inas­much as it’s an en­ter­prise devel­op­ment pro­gramme it’s also a sales pro­gramme be­cause when we joined Shell we al­ready had cus­tomers. We brought cus­tomers to Shell’s books that Shell didn’t pre­vi­ously have.”

Ad­vent Oil re­cently landed a three-year con­tract with WBHO to supply all its sites and projects as and when their projects come on stream.

Mbethe was op­ti­mistic about the fu­ture of South Africa’s econ­omy, which is fore­cast to grow by a mere 0.7 per­cent this year, say­ing the re­al­ity was “we are still grow­ing”.

“There are a lot of op­por­tu­ni­ties within this mar­ket alone. For me, when I see the JSE run­ning the way that it is, some­thing is hap­pen­ing some­where. Why are there so many in­vestors pil­ing into our mar­ket, yet we are only see­ing the bad parts of it?”

She has done a lot of work in the South­ern African Devel­op­ment Com­mu­nity bloc, ex­port­ing fuel to coun­tries such as Zim­babwe.

“We did supply into Zim­babwe, then you have forex is­sues, then you have bor­der is­sues, then you have stor­age is­sues, then you have dis­tri­bu­tion is­sues, then you’ve got health and safety is­sues.

“I like to sleep at night. I like to have a lot more con­trol over things. I don’t like the part where I have a driver who is stuck some­where be­tween Harare and Masvingo, call­ing me to say he’s stuck on the side of the road and he’s got nowhere to sleep. Those are the kind of is­sues I don’t need.”

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

Mole­bo­geng Mbethe’s com­pany, Ad­vent Oil, sup­plies min­ing, lo­gis­tics and con­struc­tion com­pa­nies with about 100m litres of fuel per an­num.

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