After working up through the ranks for five years, Kangangwane Makocha, 33 of Gambule ward in Masunga took his gratuity money and decided to start Laminated Glass Pty Ltd.
The company fits glasses for both motor vehicles and households. Registered Last year in July the company has quickly grown from two employees when it started operating in January to five.
Makocha joined Glazing Botswana in 2003 and worked for the company’s auto division, Auto Screen Centre.
“I started as a fitter then before long I was promoted to Sales Assistant and soon after I became Sales and Marketing Manager.
“I learnt a lot from the short courses organized by my employer and traveled a lot looking for business. That prepared me for this business. When I came to Palapye to market the company I got inspired to start a business because I realized there was a sizeable and growing market which was unserviced,” says Makocha from his workshop next to Palapye Standard Chartered Bank.
After following his dream Makocha now looks back at the restrictions that come with being employed.
“Now that I have my own business I can make decisions I was afraid of making in someone else’s company. Though I started out doing only auto glass I have since delved into household glass as well and that has fueled growth,” he says.
The company boasts of big clients such as Water Utilities Corporation, Palapye Admin Authority and Botswana Couriers as well as CCC and WBHO joint venture whom he says give him weekly business.
“When you know what you are doing and treat your customers well, they appreciate what you are doing for them. Some of them I worked with while employed by Glazing Botswana. They are happy to support a youth owned business,” Makocha further states.
Though there are challenges such as late payment and cheap fly by night glass fitters who operate under trees, hard working Makocha says it’s no big deal.
“You know, whatever happens, rent and salaries still have to be paid so I talk to my clients and have them see reason. Most of them understand but somehow their employees still delay. I don’t just sit back and say I’m still waiting for payment but instead I do what I can. Tomorrow I head off to Gabs to get stock to service my clients.
“About those fly by night fitters, if the council does not do anything about them what can I do? All I do is educate the customers and make them see the advantages of avoiding those guys. That is proving to be easy because some customers who go there end up coming to us to rectify shoddy jobs done under trees.”
Now that the ball is rolling this ambitious entrepreneur sees infinite possibilities for his business.
This year he says he intends to incorporate auto body and mechanical works and employ more youth especially from technical colleges.
“There’s very limited space here as you can see I have to use my office as storage so next year I will find bigger space.
“With the passion I have five years is a long time for me to open three or four branches and employ 15 to 20 more youth,” says the confident youth.
Makocha says he was encouraged by President Ian Khama who called on the youth to stand up and open businesses and create employment.
“It helps knowing that there is someone like the government behind you. Maybe one day we will get work from the government which will change the game.
“I encourage the youth to open businesses and not be afraid to go hungry for a while because in the long run it helps. After investing all my money on glass and coming to Palapye it was tough. I slept at a friend’s house because I had no money, but look at me now,” he says.