Mpho Mpatane is a top five finalist in The Workspace/MiWay Entrepreneur Competition. Her journey has encompassed taking on an aspect of a traditionally male-dominated industry, and offering tailor-made personal clothing and equipment solutions, while also looking to the future and her vision of developing wearable technology through her clothing manufacturing for the mining and construction industries.
Mpatane’s company, Minatlou Trading 251, is a supplier of general and women-specific protective personal equipment/clothing.
“When I approached the first mining house to introduce my business, the initial concern was if I would be able to deliver on their specifications, and if I would be willing to work in partnership with male counterparts,” Mpatane recalls.
“I was tasked with creating samples for them and not only did I deliver, but I delivered beyond what was expected of me when I also brought with me women specific/tailored boiler suits including pregnancy-appropriate one. So I have had to overcome doubt, being undermined and a lack of belief in my business,” she says.
Mpatane bought Minatlou as a shelf company from CIPC. Her reason was she wanted to play in the construction industry. But she had a reality check: “I had to bow down to the fact that it is not easy for a new woman-owned construction business to find work in the mainstream and improve the company’s CIDB rating and also graduate to being accredited by the NHBRC,” she says.
Most of the jobs she could tackle were in building maintenance, which was not what Mpatane had set out to do. So she decided to do more research. “I realised that no one is allowed on a construction site without proper safety equipment. The one factor that stood out for me, though, was the fact that the few women that were on these construction sites were wearing general protective clothing, which were ill fitting for them because they would be given general personal protection equipment (PPE), originally created for men.”
Mpatane discovered some could not button up their tops because of their size of their chests, for example. “If they were pregnant, their pants would not accommodate the baby bump, so some pants would not cover their ankles because of their hips; my list started growing from there,” she explains.
And there was another, aesthetic reason she thought women working in construction or mining should enjoy clothes made specifically for them. “Since I am a woman who likes colour, what also stood out for me again was the fact that their PPE looked exactly like their male’s counterparts. Later on I saw a few pink colours coming in, but the safety features did not change with the colours. That prompted me to start doing research into the industry.”
This led her to mining, where Mpatane’s research propelled her into finding solutions to the challenges many miners face on a daily basis when at work. “The recent deaths experienced in the mining sector recently fueled my vision of developing wearable technology through our clothing for the mining industry, and other sectors such as security, going forward and keeping up with the fourth industrial revolution,” she says. “#watchthespaceSA.”
Minatlou Trading 251 recently started manufacturing corporate uniforms based on requests from new clients. “This has been a good addition to our offering. We listened and heard what our clients wanted from us, and we are starting to deliver on our promises to them,” says Mpatane.
Her greatest challenge so far has been access to markets. “Until recently, it has been a challenge to become a supplier to big corporates especially global companies. Recently we started getting out there by entering competitions and steadily informing people about our offering. This has given us access to start doing business with companies we would have still being struggling to on-board and become part of their suppliers,” Mpatane explains.
And, of course, access to capital has been an issue. “We are an SME, only taking up the growth journey now and we do not have collateral to co-invest our vision. All that we can do is to deliver and deliver the best quality to prove our offering is relevant and that we are market ready and investable.”
Mpatane won’t be diverted from her dream and is determined to challenge the doubters. She says as a previously financially disadvantaged African female, corporates often question whether she is really capable of building a credible and competitive business in this men dominated industry.
“Can I really deliver on my business offering, on time, in good quality and can I really compete with my peers, albeit at a smaller scale at the moment? This latter fact makes me look forward to growing the company steadily and consistently to a point that everyone knows who we are and we do not have to sell our selves anymore.”
The finals of The Workspace/MiWay Entrepreneur Competition take place on 13 September 2018.
Herman Mashaba To Talk On City Of Jo’burg Job Creation Initiative
Herman Mashaba to talk on City of Jo’burg job creation initiative at 2019 Business Day TV SME Summit.
Leading organisations at the SME Summit
SME Insurance Checklist For New Year
Malesela Maupa, Head of Product and Insurer Relationships at FNB Insurance Brokers, advises SMEs to consider the following factors when reviewing their policies.
Business owners who are planning for the year ahead should not overlook the importance of reviewing their insurance policies to ensure they are adequately covered against insurable risks.
Malesela Maupa, Head of Product and Insurer Relationships at FNB Insurance Brokers says, every year businesses face unique challenges ranging from credit and market risks, technological disruptions, compliance, operational and regulatory risks, amongst others. As a matter of precaution, insurance policies should at least be reviewed or updated once a year.
He advises SMEs to consider the following factors when reviewing their policies:
- Employee movements – if there are any employees who have left or joined the company, ensure that your policy is updated accordingly.
This type of cover normally depends on the role and contribution of the employee to the business. For instance, directors may be covered for Key Person Insurance and Directors & Officers Liability insurance.
- Protest Actions – this year is the national election year and leading up to elections we can expect to see an increase in the frequency and severity of protest actions, riots and strikes. Thus, it is essential to ensure that adequate special risks cover is in place from the South African Special Risks Insurance Association (SASRIA).
SASRIA provides cover to both individuals and businesses against special risks like civil commotion, public disorder, strikes, riots and terrorism at affordable premiums.
- Cyber risks – it is essential to communicate with your insurer or broker and find out if there are any new risks that your business should be protected against. Cyber incidents continue to be a major risk for businesses especially in the SME sector. Over the last couple of years there has been a major increase in the number of reported cyber incidences.
More businesses are now facing increased cyber threats due to their increased dependency on technology, relating to their internal and customer data being compromised by fraudsters. It is therefore essential to have some form of cyber risk insurance cover and/or enhancement of data security protocols.
- Regulatory changes – every year there are a number of regulatory changes that impact businesses directly or indirectly, which may result in fines and penalties for non-compliance.
- Natural catastrophes – the increase in the frequency and severity of extreme weather conditions, coupled with intensifying natural catastrophes will continue to have a significant impact on businesses.
Businesses should ensure they are adequately protected against these risks to avoid incurring sever financial losses.
- Business changes – should a business consider moving to a new location, purchasing new premises or venture into new business activities, these types of changes could have a major impact on its risks profile. As a result, the policy needs to be updated accordingly.
- New and Enhanced products – An innovative culture has taken over the insurance industry and ever so often we see the introduction of new products or the enhancement of existing products. Get in touch with you broker to advise you on any new products that might add value to your existing insurance portfolio.
“Reviewing your policy regularly gives you peace of mind knowing that you can focus on running your business effectively, without worrying about unforeseen risks,” concludes Maupa.
Seven Reasons Businesses Should Promote Flexible Working
By Paul Burrin, VP, Sage People
What hours did you work yesterday? Chances are, it wasn’t 9-5.
The world of work as we know it is changing. With new technology making it easier to work anywhere, anytime, the traditional 9-5 is effectively dead.
Having flexibility in their working schedule is now a key priority for employees, helping them to successfully juggle work and personal responsibilities.
In fact, more than 80% of 3,500 employees Sage People polled globally placed importance and value on flexible and remote working.
Valuing a work life balance has become increasingly important – whether this is to meet family needs, personal obligations or just to avoid rush hour – it is clear that giving employees increased control over their work schedule is good for employees, making it good for business.
With that in mind, here are seven reasons business leaders should be embracing the benefits of flexible working.
1. The world of work has changed
The line between work life and home life is much more blurred than it was just a few years ago.
For example, it’s now common for people to demand virtual meetings, the ability to work from home, and even have ‘duvet days’ when required, rather than having to suffer through the dreaded commute for hours every day.
Furthermore, modern work responsibilities are often cross-functional, requiring staff to interact with more people in different time zones.
As a result, constraints on how, where and when we work should be updated to reflect this cultural shift.
Businesses must be prepared to accept that the working world has changed if they want to truly motivate and engage employees.
2. There’s a war for talent
With top talent becoming more challenging to attract and retain, many industries are facing widespread skills shortages.
This means in-demand employees can be more selective – and the desire for flexibility is a key factor.
For example, a recent study found that 54% of people would be willing to move jobs to gain greater flexibility.
Employers who offer flexible working will attract the best talent and will also be more likely to retain these employees for longer.
3. Flexible working boosts productivity
Workforce productivity has become a global issue. Our research shows that employees are typically working only 30 hours a week, which means there’s a whole day when they’re in the office, but not actually working.
What’s more, most people who work a 40-hour week feel they are productive for only 3.75 days out of the 5-day working week.
Revolutionising productivity in new ways, such as giving employees the freedom to work in the way that best suits them, could go a long way towards narrowing the productivity gap and enabling businesses to get the most out of their staff.
4. Flexible working empowers employees, and shows you trust them
Our research also found that workers want to feel valued and recognised, with two-thirds (66%) of those surveyed seeing this as the most important aspect of their working life.
For many, this is more vital than office perks like games in the office or free food.
Giving employees the freedom to work in their own way shows they are a valued and trusted member of the team. It also empowers them to perform to a high standard and be as productive as possible.
5. It supports worker wellbeing
The health and wellbeing of staff has become more of a priority for businesses in recent years, while also being increasingly vital for employees themselves.
Over a third of employees polled (39%) believe HR and people teams could do more to improve wellness at work, with initiatives such as providing fresh fruit or offering a subsidised gym membership now proving popular.
Flexible working can help in this area by reducing stress (no more mad dashes in heavy traffic), making it something companies need to pay attention to.
6. Employees want flexible working
One of the most important reasons for businesses to embrace flexible working is simply because it’s what staff want.
According to Fuze, nearly 50% of workers across all generations want to be more mobile at work, rising to 70% for those aged 16-44.
Employees want to be able to pick up their kids from school, start and finish early if they have international calls first thing in the morning, or be able to head to a doctor’s appointment without fear they may be considered to be slacking.
Businesses would therefore be wise to listen to what their employees want and respond accordingly.
7. Technology has changed
The most straightforward argument for remote working is that staff simply no longer need to be in the office to do their jobs effectively.
Most workers now have all the tools they need on their smartphones and tablets, which means they can comfortably work from anywhere – a coffee shop between meetings, their home, or somewhere they can work undistracted.
For example, cloud technology gives employees secure access to documents externally, while collaboration and communication tools enable staff to work together from opposite sides of the globe.
Isn’t it time the way we work changed to reflect these capabilities?
Ultimately, enabling flexible working should be a focus for all businesses. From aiding talent retention, to creating positive workplace experiences – which is important to 92% of people – the long- and short-term benefits could prove invaluable.
Most importantly, giving employees flexibility will result in a happier, more engaged and more productive workforce.
In an age of continuing disruption and increasing competition, that’s not something businesses can afford to ignore.
Download Sage People’s research on what employees really want from their employers.
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