Entrepreneur Nyadzeni Makhado is founder and CEO of Prodeliver Group in Johannesburg. Image: Luyolo Mkentane.
JOHANNESBURG - Award-winning entrepreneur Nyadzeni Makhado is no ordinary businessman. 

The founder and chief executive of the Sandton-based logistics and mining services company, Prodeliver Group, was recently announced as the overall winner of the 2018 Eskom Business Investment Competition.

Makhado, who holds an honours degree in mining engineering from Wits University, took home a cash prize of R300 000, which he plans to plough back into the business.

Makhado, who started the business in 2016 while working at mining giant AngloGold Ashanti as manager in training, says they deliver commodities such as coal, chrome, ore, and manganese, across South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

“The history behind the name is the fact that delivering is what we do. We wanted to show that we are professionals in what we do, hence: Prodeliver,” he explains, during an interview with Business Report, at the sidelines of the Small Business Expo at the TicketPro Dome in Northriding, Johannesburg.

He quit his job at AngloGold Ashanti in November 2016 to focus on the business full-time but stresses that his foray into entrepreneurship was driven by the need for financial freedom.

“I’m not good with budgeting and I like to spend freely when it comes to money. I figured that the only way out was to do business,” he says.

“I wanted to live a lifestyle where I’m able to go on holidays when I feel like.”

Entrepreneur Nyadzeni Makhado is founder and CEO of Prodeliver Group in Johannesburg. Image: Luyolo Mkentane.
He recalls that during his tenure at AngloGold Ashanti, he used to see trucks transporting mining commodities from the mines and thought he could go into that kind of business.

“I’m a high-risk taker. Taking risks is the price you pay for opportunities. My risk appetite is very high.”  Makhado says together with his business partners, they bought a truck at an auction to test the market.  He then enrolled at an incubation, mentorship and development programme ran by Black Umbrellas, and soon landed his first contract.

The company’s fleet has grown from one to four trucks. Makhado says they bought the trucks by injecting their own capital into the business.  He thanks his mentor and former chief executive of the Road Accident Fund, Dr. Eugene Watson, for showing him how the business world operates.  “Through his mentorship, we were able to find ways on how to run the business. We meet every month, which is important.” 

He says when they started the business they wanted to own as many trucks as possible. However, the traditional institutions, he says, wanted collateral.  “The bank system is designed in such a way that it was almost impossible for us to get trucks. They wanted a three-year trading history, management accounts; audited financials, etc. We sent a couple of applications and they got rejected,” he recalls.

Makhado says they, together with Watson, looked at a business model whereby people bought trucks and then got into a three-year agreement with them.

“The agreement allows us to have the trucks for three years, this model allows us to do asset management. It also allows us to scale our business, reduce our risks and it is sustainable.”

The Prodeliver Group targets nontraditional investors and business owners who want to increase their income; individuals, and even churches and stokvels.

Makhado says winning the Eskom competition gave them much-needed validation. “It’s a great feeling to be the overall winner. Number one, it’s good for our marketing.”

He says their marketing strategy had been very limited. “Winning the competition is providing good marketing for us.”  Looking ahead, Makhado says he wants to get more certifications for the business in order to capture more market, including transporting chemicals.  “We are looking to go into warehousing, drone transportation, and starting a subsidiary company to handle data analytics,” says Makhado, looking rather pleased with himself.

He says entrepreneurs need to adapt to and recognise the opportunities brought by the much-touted fourth industrial revolution. 

“We must design models that are less risky, have high turnover levels, and are scalable.”

- BUSINESS REPORT