While working as an administrator at a school, earning R2 000 a month, and being the breadwinner of her family, Sharon Mashishi took a bold step to start her own business.
Mashishi, who was encouraged by her parents while studying at university to register a business just in case she wanted to venture into entrepreneurship is the owner and founder of Bahlaping Mash Trading, Mining Projects.
Leaving her administrative job at a primary school in the town of Ga-Chaba Limpopo, she joined mining giant, Anglo American, to work in the electrical department.
At Anglo, she realised the opportunities for her business, which offers services of mining, construction, electrical and civil engineering.
“I previously worked as an administrator at a primary school in Ga-Chaba and that’s the only working experience I had before venturing in business full time. Being a breadwinner at the time earning less than R2 000 a month forced me to go out looking for business opportunities, and my first opportunity in Anglo American was an electrical job and that’s how the company ventured into the field of engineering,” Mashishi told Business Report.
The 27-year-old and mother of two says that she faced many challenges to get her business up and running.
“My biggest challenge was getting capital to purchase the necessary equipment to honour or execute the projects, as a small company with no credit record and no experience getting credit was almost impossible. Being a young woman in business was also a great challenge as I had to prove myself more than male candidates,” she said.
She further said that in her first project she had to borrow money from her friends and family when getting started.
“In the first month of the project, I borrowed money from friends and family for mobilisation and leasing some of the equipment of the project. In the second month we asked for an advanced payment from Anglo American, under their wing Anglo American Zimele wing which played a great part in assisting us in our business development. They managed to assist us with the advance payment that we had requested. From there we continued to survive on month on month while building the credit profile and after six months we were finally approved by the bank for the financing of equipment.”
While Bahlaping Mash Trading, Mining Projects employs 66 people, the young entrepreneur says she is involved in the boardroom as well as on the ground.
“It is very important to be presently part of your business as much as you have managers managing certain departments. No one is going to grow your business as best as you can. As an HR person offering services that are not in line with my career path, it’s important for me to be involved so I can learn and will be in a better place to make decisions,” says Mashishi, who studied Human Resource Management at TUT.
While the majority of her client base is made up of different municipalities, mines and private companies, Mashishi shared her hopes and dreams for her company for the future.
She said, “My hope is to grow the company to be one of the best service providers in the country, we also hope to partner with the government/SETA to offer skills/experience to newly graduated students.”