Oct 2021 2nd edition

Entrepreneur ducks COVID-19 headwinds

Written by More Matshediso

Being an entrepreneur comes with challenges that may lead to close shop, rebrand or change products being sold. This is done to sustain a business. Happy Shabangu is a serial entrepreneur who has had to realign his business.

One business owner who has had to make a few adjustments over the years is Happy Shabangu (33) of Pretoria.

In 2013, Shabangu established his own business, Bizrocket Trade and Projects. The company started off as a branding, promoting and supply business.

“We were basically a printing shop,” he says. 

Three years ago, he ventured into textile manufacturing to grow the business.

He specialised in the production of school uniform, corporate clothing and embroidery. Things went well until disaster struck with the outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

During Level 5 of the national lockdown last year, companies like his could not operate because they did not provide essential services. This meant a loss of income for him and his employees.

“We started manufacturing general Personal Protective Equipment, including facemasks, so that our business could be allowed to operate,” he says.

The business was lucky to receive the COVID-19 relief fund worth R80 000 from the Small Enterprise Finance Agency. The money bought more sewing machines to meet the increased demand for cloth facemasks.

During the lockdown, the demand for school uniforms went down because the school calendar was interrupted. The business was thrown another lifeline when the Department of Small Business Development created a database of facemask suppliers across the country.

“We made it to the list and were able to get business from various clients. In some instances, we had to outsource other products like sanitisers for our clients. We stayed afloat as a business,” Shabangu says.

The biggest order the business has received has been for the manufacture of 44 000 cloth facemasks for Transnet, which the business recently completed.

The company has achieved great strides with only five permanent employees. Shabangu has proven that he’s a born entrepreneur, someone who is unfazed by challenges.

For more information call the Small Enterprise Finance Agency on 012 748 9600

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