Start-up tim­ber com­pany branches out into China

Vuk'uzenzele - - General - Hlengiwe Ngob­ese

Ex­port­ing to China can be an up­hill bat­tle for many small and medium-size busi­nesses, but for KwaZulu-Natal busi­ness­man Xolani Ntuli it is a winnable bat­tle with the right part­ners at his side.

Ntuli (40) owns XKG, a tim­ber and lo­gis­tics com­pany that re­cently se­cured a con­tract to sup­ply tim­ber to a fur­ni­ture man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pany in China.

It was a dream come true for Ntuli who, af­ter work­ing in the tim­ber in­dus­try for many years, as­pired to be his own boss. In 2015, he took a leap of faith by start­ing his own busi­ness. Within months, he se­cured a con­tract to ex­port pine tim­ber to Dong­guan, a man­u­fac­tur­ing hub in China’s Guang­dong prov­ince.

Ntuli said win­ning the con­tract would not have been pos­si­ble with­out the sup­port of Trade and In­vest­ment KwaZulu-Natal through its Emerg­ing Ex­porter Pro­gramme.

The in­cu­ba­tion pro­gramme fo­cuses on ex­port and mar­ket op­por­tu­ni­ties. Ntuli re­ceived step-bystep men­tor­ship. “They even went with me to the for­est to help me choose the right prod­uct for my client,” he said.

The first ship­ment of 10 tons of pine tim­ber was sent in June and his clients wanted an­other eight tons in Septem­ber.

“The first ship­ment was a headache be­cause I didn’t have the R500 000 to cover the ship­ping costs. I had many sleep­less nights try­ing to fig­ure out what to do and even­tu­ally used all my sav­ings for my kids to get the job done,” he said.

Ntuli is one of the peo­ple who heeded gov­ern­ment’s call to con­sider en­trepreneur­ship as a way of help­ing the econ­omy to grow. He em­ploys five young peo­ple and plans to open a satel­lite of­fice in Nel­spruit as he gets most of his tim­ber from Mpumalanga.

“I’m a strong be­liever in out­sourc­ing as a means of sup­port­ing other black­owned busi­nesses,” he said, cit­ing the trucks that trans­port his tim­ber to the port and the ma­chines used to load tim­ber in the for­est as ex­am­ples.

Ntuli has this mes­sage for en­trepreneurs: Work hard on your dreams and be will­ing to learn and make sac­ri­fices.”

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