By Miracle Nwankwo
In recent times, Africans are beginning to turn their hearts from seeking employment to making employment. This can be seen in the numbers of business ventures that are emerging in the continent, projecting a future of millions of African-owned brands.
In the spirit of the growing an entrepreneurial community in Africa, the continent is turning into a hub of startups, small and medium scale businesses. In South Africa, Modise Sikhosana started Yonke Konke when he realized the need for more stability. Having spent many years in the IT world, he launched Yonke Konke in 2015 with his wife.
Yonke Konke is a South African brand that supplies road safety and traffic control equipment, tools and general industrial supplies to the mining and construction industries.
Before the establishment of Yonke Konke, Modise surveyed and tried to observe what business to venture into; he chose the road safety supplies sector because he saw the potential for growth and expansion. And when a good opportunity presented itself, Modise and his wife didn’t hesitate to grab it. This was an opportunity to become major players in a space that was mostly dominated by Gauteng-based corporates.
Today, Yonke Konke is a Limpopo-based business that is determined to add value and do business on merit rather than empowerment credentials.
When it all started, the couple wanted to keep the business within Limpopo for as long as possible. They soon got support from De Beers Venetia mine, leading to a huge transformation in the business and also brought life to it. The contract with De Beer involved the supply of road safety products like traffic cones, delineators, water-filled barriers, and others.
Like every other business, Yonke Konke is also faced with challenges, especially in the mining industry, including difficulty in accessing investors and contracts.
African Small and Medium Scale Enterprises deal with a lot of subtle institutionalised barriers, despite the legislation and promises on paper. These barriers deny competent businesses the opportunities that are easily accessible to more established suppliers.
One of the best things that have happened to Yonke Konke is the Anglo American Zimele Supplier Development programme. The programme is possibly the best enterprise programmes in the country. Upon enrollment, the programme has brought success to the company which proudly supports the rural communities in and around where it operates.
Currently, Yonke Konke has other clients like the Thulamela municipality (Thohoyandou) in Limpopo, Khabokedi Waste Management and Umeme Africa Engineering (an Eskom partner).
The company has a total number of 11 staff and is consistently involved in supporting local community initiatives, like Pfulufelo, a local NPO that operates in rural communities, a project that provides sanitary pads to disadvantaged schoolgirls in rural communities. The company also sponsors the local Vhembe Chamber of Commerce.
Over the years, Modise has learnt many lessons; one of the key lessons he learnt is that it takes patience and discipline to build a sustainable business.