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Incubator helps grow small business

Written by Maselaelo Seshotli
Started by two determined women in a home garage, Makisha Projects is now a thriving business.

Registered in 2010, this business is run by Sikhumbuzo Monaledi, who co-owns it with Nombulelo Shazi, Ntombizodwa Mashabane and Ntombikayise Mosikare.

One of the co-owners, Lerato Makitla, passed away last December - leaving the company with just four people in charge.

The company specialises in fibre manufacturing and design. This includes the production of bath tubs, kitchen sinks, bed lifters, car bumpers and spoilers.

In February 2013, the company joined the Lepharo Metal Base Incubator after being introduced and referred to it by an individual who spotted the business in the township.

Makisha Projects co-owner Sikhumbuzo Monalede says the business has grown since joining Lepharo Metal Base Incubator.“The incubator trains us as entrepreneurs to create new businesses in the engineering and manufacturing sectors. We learn how to manage and industrialise our business,” said Monaledi.

Makisha Projects has learned about compliance in tax, health safety and environment.

The company occupies two working spaces at the Lepharo Incubator premises, which gives them enough space for the production of goods.

Monaledi says that moving the company from the garage-based work space in Duduza, Nigel, to the work space in Lepharo, has encouraged the team to dream big.

The products manufactured by the company are mainly sold to people in Duduza, Soweto, Hammanskraal and Mpumalanga.

“Among the products we manufacture, the bed lifters seem to be the ones that sell the most.”

Monaledi says that in November 2013, the company applied for technology transfer funding from the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda), who assessed the company in February and approved the fund in March 2014.

The company has received funding worth R600 000, which was used to buy more machinery to improve production.

The company has gone through many changes since joining Lepharo two years ago. “The major changes I have noticed is that we shifted from being a part-time to a full- time operational business. We have since then taken into consideration the financial implications of growing a business,” says Monaledi.

The company employs three permanent workers - Jacky Mahlangu, Gift Malatjie and Zakhele Mtshayisa, and has become official employers who register their employees with the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) and Workmen’s Compensation Fund.

“Other entrepreneurs should consider joining programmes such as this one as it will assist them in growing their businesses through monitoring and mentoring,” says Monaledi.

Monaledi adds that future plans for the business include becoming one of the major distributors in fibreglass manufacturing of bath tubs, sinks, basins and also having a stake in the auto manufacturing sector with their car bumpers and spoilers.

What is UIF?
The UIF gives short-term relief to workers when they become unemployed or are unable to work because of maternity, adoption leave, or illness. It also provides relief to the dependants of a deceased contributor.

What is the Worksmen’s Compensation Fund?
The Workmen’s Compensation Fund is a special fund set up by government for injuries or diseases resulting from work.