Three and half years ago, Stephen Phalatse and his business partner took a risk when they both left their jobs to start their own business called Hamisa Mining and Engineering, a holding company for Tshela Filling Station.
Phalatse, a former Free State Regional Manager of Business Banking at Standard Bank said he does not regret his decision to leave his plush job because he is currently enjoying what he does.
“It fills me with joy to see the happy faces of people who work here, when some of them came here for interviews, you could see the desperation in their eyes and now that they’ve got something and are able to put food on the table, you can see the difference.”
Phalatse’s business was funded by the National Empowerment Fund (NEF) to the tune of R3.1 million to buy a Caltex Franchise that he called Tshela Filling Station.
“The relationship between the NEF and myself has been good and so far the business is doing well,” he said with a smile during a recent interview with Vuk’uzenzele.
The filling station is situated on a busy road in the township of Botshabelo outside Bloemfontein and employs 22 young people from the township.
Phalatse, who holds a Bachelor of Commerce and an Honors Degree in Business Management from the University of Free State, worked at Standard Bank for 13 years before he decided to be a fulltime businessman.
Since he opened the filling station, Phalatse said like any other business, he has encountered challenges.
“Two of the major challenges that I have faced when I started was access to the markets and lack of experience in running a business of this nature.
“As an inexperienced businessman, you have to double your efforts to prove yourself especially in the filling station business.”
He said he spent sleepless nights working hard to ensure that his business becomes successful. “I was at a point where I was living on my pension and it was running out, I had only one option and that was to make a success of the business and I’m glad that I’ve made it.”
Phalatse said young entrepreneurs must have passion for what they do and be prepared to work hard to make it because government is trying hard to assist young and up and coming black entrepreneurs.