With clients such as Eskom, Johannesburg’s City Power, Rand Water and Siemens on its books already, African Olive hopes to expand to become a formidable player in the engineering industry.
This was revealed by co-founder Lesley Mntungwa on last week’s episode of It’s My Biz, sponsored by Nedbank. The show, which airs on e.tv at 5.30pm on Thursdays, profiles entrepreneurs who are looking for that extra edge to take their business to the next level.
Headed by Mntungwa, African Olive provides high voltage electrical engineering services to clients and hopes to expand into the private sector.
Mntungwa said one of the weaknesses of her six-year-old business was cash flow and collecting funds from clients.
Bridgette Gasa, the chief executive of infrastructure and development company The Elilox Group, advised her to focus less time on the big public sector companies that offered her contracts once in a while.
Gasa said energy must be spent on finding companies that needed comprehensive services that African Olive could offer on a monthly and daily basis. By changing tactics and developing her company as a “one-stop shop”, Mntungwa could create a steady cash flow.
Sage Pastel managing director Steven Cohen echoed Gasa and added that by creating ongoing relationships with clients she could slowly build her reliable client base to ensure the sustainability of her business.
Cohen said this strategy would grow African Olive’s cash reserves, allowing Mntungwa to develop long- and medium-term strategies and not just short-term ones.
David Bate, the chief executive of investment banking company Brookwood Capital, urged Mntungwa to aggressively cut her overhead costs wherever she could in areas such as equipment and staff. Bate said she should be “lean and mean” to free up cash.
Bate also said Mntungwa should try to diversify her business and partner with large engineering companies so that she filled a gap in the chain.
It’s My Biz aims to impart valuable information to small business owners so they are better prepared to take their businesses to the next level.
Business Report is the print media partner for the show.