Dial M for se­cret to mo­bile suc­cess

Busi­ness leader's pas­sion is tele­coms

Sunday World - - Business - XO­LILE MT­S­HAZO + 95 ( & ( +

LYNETTE Ma­gasa has found her niche in the tele­coms in­dus­try and is mak­ing the most of it.

Ma­gasa, the founder and chief ex­ec­u­tive of Bon­iswa Cor­po­rate So­lu­tions, rel­ishes her mul­ti­ple roles as busi­ness­woman, mother, wife, leader and post­grad­u­ate stu­dent. “Bon­iswa ” means “vi­sion”. Her com­pany started out as a sub­con­trac­tor, in­stalling masts for MTN and Vo­da­com in 2004, but she ex­panded it into a fully-fledged turnkey so­lu­tion en­tity, erect­ing net­work equip­ment for the in­dus­try ’ s ma­jor role play­ers.

Born in Swazi­land, she started her ca­reer as a re­cep­tion­ist at sta­te­owned de­fence tech­nol­ogy con­glom­er­ate Denel.

Af­ter study­ing hu­man re­sources, she was pro­moted to the hu­man re­sources ad­min­is­tra­tor’s post.

“I found my pas­sion in tele­coms from do­ing ad­min­is­tra­tive work, and later ra­dio fre­quency up­grad­ing, but the turn­ing point came when I be­gan do­ing work for Vo­da­com through Siemens.”

With start-up cap­i­tal of R700 000 and help from her hus­band, who was em­ployed at Vo­da­com in the early 2000s, she was in­tro­duced and shown the ropes.

“As an en­tre­pre­neur I started out as a sub­con­trac­tor to MTN, but part­ner­ing with Plessey, the provider of turnkey tele­coms in­fra­struc­ture so­lu­tions, boosted our busi­ness pro­file,” Ma­gasa says.

Break­through

“The break­through came in 2005, when I man­aged to ac­cess clients such as MTN, Vo­da­com and Telkom with­out the mid­dle­man.

“For the first time I had di­rect ac­cess to clients.

“The game be­came more in­ter­est­ing as the clients paid me di­rectly and in ad­vance. That’s how I re­alised growth as well as an in­creas­ing de­mand to in­stall more tele­coms masts.”

In 2009, Ma­gasa ap­plied for fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance from the Na­tional Em­pow­er­ment Fund (NEF). It took a year and a half be­fore she was of­fered a R17-mil­lion loan.

“I’m afraid of debt, but most im­por­tantly I hate it. We sat down with my hubby to dis­cuss the of­fer and we even­tu­ally de­cided to take R5-mil­lion in 2012.

“My clients were pay­ing up front, so there was no need for a huge loan. In­stal­la­tion projects were com­ing our way thick and fast.

“I started trav­el­ling a lot, vis­it­ing clients on site. The work­load was be­com­ing overwhelming.

“I ap­pointed an au­dit firm to take care of the books and cor­po­rate lawyers to pro­tect me against the more es­tab­lished role­play­ers.”

“The NEF did not only fund us, but also helped us up our game, held our hands and showed us the way for­ward, set­ting up proper busi­ness man­age­ment struc­tures. It was a case of sink­ing or swim­ming.”

To­day Ma­gasa is the proud owner of the big­gest and only black woman-owned sup­plier to the tele­coms in­dus­try.

She says her 78 em­ploy­ees all have a sense of be­long­ing to the Bon­iswa Cor­po­rate So­lu­tions fam­ily, which has an an­nual turnover of more than R40-mil­lion. Many have been there since the start.

“It be­comes a col­lec­tive re­spon­si­bil­ity to make the com­pany suc­cess­ful.”

With a strate­gic part­ner in Poynt­ing An­tenna, Ma­gasa says tak­ing on new projects have been easy.

She has a na­tional di­ploma in lo­gis­tics, a BTech de­gree in IT and is cur­rently study­ing for her Mas­ter’s in IT and will be en­rolling for a Phd there­after.

The busi­ness is op­er­a­tional in Gaut­eng, Mpumalanga, the East­ern Cape and Lim­popo, as well as Swazi­land, Botswana, Mozam­bique and Zam­bia.

It’s a BEE-com­pli­ant com­pany, us­ing the ser­vices of ap­proved con­trac­tors.

Her aim is to re­tire as an aca­demic, teach­ing in­for­mat­ics at the high­est level.

Ma­gasa ’ s com­pany has won sev­eral awards, in­clud­ing the BBQ 2013 Trade and In­vest­ment KwaZulu-Natal New and In­no­va­tive Busi­ness award.

It was a fi­nal­ist in the 2013 Topco Top Women Awards.

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