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How Ronem Maintenance Solutions Thrives On Finding Solutions To Your Problems

Fhumulani Nemukula from Nelspruit in Mpumalanga, founder and MD of Ronem Maintenance Solutions, was inspired into entrepreneurship many years ago when he encountered an elderly woman selling vetkoek on the side of the road.

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Fhumulani Nemukula

Vital stats

  • Year business registered: 2016
  • Enrolled in Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs: January 2017
  • Number of employees: 3 (and 21 casual)
  • Business classification: Exempt Micro Enterprise (EME)
  • BBBEE ownership: 100% black owned
  • Nature of business: Building, Contractor, Maintenance
  • Website: www.ronem.co.za
  • Twitter: @fhumu81 #tsogoentrepreneurs
  • Facebook: facebook.com/ronemmaintenance

Ronem, all about service and solutions

Fhumulani Nemukula from Nelspruit in Mpumalanga, founder and MD of Ronem Maintenance Solutions, was inspired into entrepreneurship many years ago when he encountered an elderly woman selling vetkoek on the side of the road. He learned that, through her small enterprise, she had managed to employ two people and pay for her two sons to go to university. At the time Nemukula was completing his internship training at a technical training centre.

“She was creating her own opportunities, even without any training or skills development. This made me realise that I too could achieve anything if I put my mind to it.”

Related: Sumting Fresh, Food With A Future

Years later in 2015, when his passion for building maintenance and construction took root in his life, Nemukula remembered that resolute woman. Determined to combine his passion, the skills he had gained over the years, and the motivation she had inspired in him, he launched his own business.

Ronem Maintenance Solutions is a one-stop-shop for reliable and quality building maintenance services in construction, repair and maintenance.

“What makes us different is that we offer solutions, we don’t just repair and maintain. This is an industry where customer service often needs fine tuning so we have developed a system that allows us to use our technical skills and our understanding of our customers’ needs to deliver what we call Ronem Solutions.”

Nemukula has a National Diploma in Electrical Engineering and certificates in Health and Safety, Installation Rules (SANS 10142), Facilities Management, and Leadership. Electrical engineering was a natural path for him, he says, as his father worked for City Power in Johannesburg for over 40 years. “It suited me well. I love solving technical problems – and my work suits my personality. I thrive on finding solutions to challenges.”

ronnie-fhumulani-nemukula

Over the past 13 years Nemukula has been involved in building maintenance in the hospitality and commercial sectors in South Africa and Mozambique. He is still employed by Broll Property Group in Nelspruit on a half-day basis, leaving him free to run his business as well. He has three full-time permanent employees, who include his brother as project manager and his wife, who has a BCom Accounting degree and manages the admin and books, and 21 casual employees – most of whom are employed from local townships where the rate of unemployment is high, and five of whom are women. He is also committed to bringing women into the industry.

“We work hard to develop young men and women from the local community and we do a lot of on-site training for our unskilled workers.”

Taking it further, Ronem has also encouraged casual workers to become sub-contractors to his company, thus developing their own businesses and creating further employment.

Related: Nhlanhla Dlamini Not Only Has Guts, But Grit – In Spades

Ronem is environmentally responsible and has developed its own policy that ensures that only energy saving lights and equipment is installed in new developments and recommended in refurbishments. The team is committed to complying with all dumping regulations.

Nemukula joined Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs through a Supplier Showcase event held at Tsogo Sun’s Emnotweni Casino in Nelspruit. That was a positive experience in itself, he says, and led to new contracts. However, being invited to apply to join the Tsogo Sun Entrepreneur programme (at the end of 2016) has been wonderful and humbling.

“It has given me the opportunity to learn from amazing entrepreneurs and it has inspired me to live my dreams.”

He says that since joining the programme, his company has become more constructive and focused. He has gained great value from the expert advice in different areas of running a business, from interaction with other entrepreneurs, and from the coaching sessions.

“The coaching helped me to think out of the box. I have realigned the way I look at myself and my business. In simple terms, the coaching sessions have increased our bottom line.”

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Entrepreneur Competition Top Five Heading For The Finish Line

One more workshop, the workshop for the final five followed by the contestants’ last chance to pitch their businesses, and then the winner will be announced on 13 September 2018.

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The five finalists in an entrepreneur competition run by co-working operator The Workspace and MiWay business insurance have been chosen.

One more workshop, the workshop for the final five followed by the contestants’ last chance to pitch their businesses, and then the winner will be announced on 13 September 2018.

The finalists are cloud based loyalty management platform and app for SMEs, Loyal 1; finance solution company, Matla Risk Management; events and catering business Sindi’s Best for All; mining tech integration partner, Dwyka Mining Services; and Minatlou Trading 251, supplier of general and women-specific protective personal equipment/clothing.

CEO of The Workspace, Mari Schourie, said it was vital to support and recognise entrepreneurs and small businesses as a prerequisite to growing South Africa’s economy. While competitions such as this helped give emerging businesses a leg up, it also fell to corporates and consumers to do their bit too.

Phakiso Tsotetsi – entrepreneur, Ambassador of the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship and co-founder of the Hookup Dinner and one of the judges – said a pitch-readiness workshop helped whittle down the top 10 and deciding the top five businesses.

“It helped the entrepreneurs in developing concise, repeatable sales pitches for their businesses, which afforded them the opportunity to get closer to being chosen into the top five,” he said. “As it stands we are very excited about the decision we have made and looking forward to the rest of the journey in this competition,” he said.

Related: A Comprehensive List Of Angel Investors That Fund South African Start-Ups

The workshops and pitch interventions have been invaluable, personally and professionally.

What the finalists said

“Personally I have grown in self-confidence,” said Mpho Mpatane, managing director of Minatlou Trading 251. “I’ve learned I should learn to listen more and be open to learning from other people’s experiences. Business wise, I have learned how to pitch better so that my value proposition is clearer and is more attractive to possible investors. I have learned that I have much to learn from my peers and I can get business from my peers as well. We can procure business from each other and start improving our skills and expertise.”

Dwyka Mining Services’ Rethabile Letlala said the competition has been a “rather uncomfortable yet extremely exciting experience overall. I was forced to confront my public speaking insecurities and even more, learn how to enjoy it and use my own personality to influence and improve my presentations”, he said.

“Entrepreneurs are the true drivers of the economy. Competitions like this not only give entrepreneurs a chance to grow, but plainly the confidence to know that they are noticed, they are making a difference. That affirmation alone is all that someone needs to keep pushing and working towards their dream.”

Thabo Moodie, who runs Matla Risk Management, said he’d learnt how to structure his pitch. “It’s much more crisp and precise. You may have a lot to say and you may know about your product and service, but knowing how to translate that to your potential investor or partner is crucial,” he said.

Besides being an invaluable networking opportunity, the entrepreneur competitions such as this one help entrepreneurs get an edge on the bigger competition, said Sindi’s Best for All founder, Sindiswa Beverly Gqogqonyeka.  “When we are groomed and mentored correctly at an early stage of a business, our success rate becomes higher as we end up knowing what good business practices are. And then we can become profitable,” she said.

Loyal 1 creator, Tshireletso ‘TY’ Hlangwane, said he had been given the opportunity to learn from judges, as well as a shot at prizes that would help grow his business and become a “well-oiled machine”. “Many entrepreneurs in South Africa need such skills in order to improve the business and grow their businesses,” he added.

Related: Government Funding And Grants For Small Businesses

The prizes

The prize, worth over R350 000, includes 12 months free office space for up to four people at The Workspace’s Village Road premises, free Wi-Fi, free phone rental, free business insurance and business advice, as well as all risk equipment insurance, free tea and coffee, free usage of meeting and board rooms, free security and 24-hour access, free parking and a new laptop.

There’s also a brand new responsive design website and content management system plus training in how to keep digital collateral updated; a share portfolio from Opulentus Wealth and a complete brand communication strategy and two strategic sessions from Oxigen Communications worth over R50 000.

Beyers Müller, a judge and CFO of the Intespace Group, said The WorkSpace and MiWay Entrepreneur Competition was a great initiative that “showcases the hunger and spirit of up and coming entrepreneurs in South Africa. I’m thrilled to see how every entrepreneur is a broker between ideas and resources”.

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Obama Calls On The World To Be Madiba’s Legacy

Welcoming assembled guests to the lecture, Nelson Mandela Foundation Chief Executive Sello Hatang said, “It’s a very exciting moment for us.”

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Former US President Barack Obama delivered the 16th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture, in partnership with the Motsepe Foundation, in Johannesburg on Tuesday 17 July.

To honour the centennial of Madiba’s birth, the lecture’s theme was “Renewing the Mandela Legacy and Promoting Active Citizenship in a Changing World”. It focused on creating conditions for bridging divides, working across ideological lines, and resisting oppression and inequality.

Welcoming assembled guests to the lecture, Nelson Mandela Foundation Chief Executive Sello Hatang said, “It’s a very exciting moment for us.”

The 15 000-strong crowd was addressed by programme director Busi Mkhumbuzi, Foundation Chairperson Professor Njabulo Ndebele, Motsepe Foundation founder and CEO Dr Patrice Motsepe, activist and Madiba’s widow, Ms Graça Machel, and President Cyril Ramaphosa before Obama spoke.

Ndebele said the world had welcomed Obama’s election to the US Presidency in 2008 and that he had inspired universal belief in human unity.

Motsepe, addressing the crowd, said, “The presence of each and every one here is living proof that the legacy and spirit of Nelson Mandela is alive.”

Machel, Mandela’s widow, said Madiba’s centenary was an opportunity to celebrate him “in all his incredible uniqueness”, and also to celebrate him as a representative of a broader collective leadership that had led South Africa and South Africans to freedom.

Machel called on young people to take inspiration from Mandela’s life so that they create a world in which all live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.

Ramaphosa said the Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture, from the very beginning, had been “global in its ambition, and broad and inclusive in its outreach”.

Related: 5 Inspiring Quotes From Madiba To Stir You Into Action On Mandela Day

Ramaphosa said that his “Thuma Mina” (send me) message was “none other than Mandela’s message” of personal service: “Madiba … is sending all of us to deal with corruption, and to root it out of South African soil.”

Obama said: “Madiba’s light shone so brightly … that in the late seventies he could inspire a young college student on the other side of the world to re-examine my own priorities – to reconsider the small role that I might play in bending the arc towards justice.

“And now an entire generation has now grown up in a world that by most measures has gotten steadily freer, healthier, wealthier, less violent and more tolerant during the course of their lifetimes. It should make us hopeful.

“Let me tell you what I believe. I believe in Nelson Mandela’s vision, I believe in a vision shared by Gandhi and King. I believe in justice and in the premise that all of us are created equal.”

In his speech Obama tracked the enormous social and democratic progress the world has made in the 100 years between Mandela’s 1918 birth and 2018.

Obama went on to outline how the world has changed from one just emerging from a devastating war and in which most of what is now the developing world was under colonial rule. Women, across the world, were seen as subordinate to men, some races were seen – almost universally – as naturally subordinate and inferior to others, and business saw nothing wrong in seeking to exploit workers, of any race or creed.

Since then colonialism had come to an end and the world had, in general, embraced a new vision for humanity, based on the principles of democracy, the rule of law, civil rights and the inherent dignity of every single individual, Obama said.

This kind of progress was the kind of progress to which Mandela had dedicated his life, Obama said.

“Now an entire generation has grown up a world that has become freer, healthier, wealthier and more tolerant, in the course of their lifetime. That should make us hopeful.”

But, Obama cautioned, now  the world stood on the brink of letting go of all this progress.

Some people, world-over, saw the politics of fear and resentment as preferable to the “messiness of democracy”, Obama said.

The former US President said, however, that he still believed in the vision of Nelson Mandela.

“I believe we have no choice but to move forward,” Obama said. “I believe those of us who believe in democracy and human rights have a better story to tell.”

Obama called for the empowerment of young people, who would lead us into the future.

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What NPOs Wish Corporates Knew Before Mandela Day

Joanne van der Walt, Global Director: Sage Foundation Promotions provides a roundup of the best advice to corporates from NPOs.

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“It was 2pm on Mandela Day at the after-care centre. The children were getting ready to go home when suddenly, 80 volunteers from a large local bank arrived, unannounced. We didn’t know who they were, but they wanted to use their 67 minutes with to volunteer with us. We appreciated the effort, but we had to turn them away, partly because the children were overwhelmed by the many unfamiliar faces, but mostly because we had no time to prepare the volunteers or the children.”

I’ve heard variations of this story from most of the NPOs we work with at Sage Foundation. The common thread is that, while highly appreciated, NPOs feel that Mandela Day activities could have a much bigger impact if they were better planned.

Planning to fail

In a recent poll of over 200 NPOs, we asked them what their biggest challenge was when it came to working with corporates on Mandela Day: 73% cited a lack of planning and failure to include them in the decision-making for the day.

Related: 5 Inspiring Quotes From Madiba

Their second-biggest challenge, cited by 24% of NPOs, was that too many volunteers show up. So, not only do NPOs not know what to expect, but it can feel like an onslaught, despite the good intentions.

When asked what they enjoyed most about Mandela Day, 50% of NPOs said exposure and 34% said engagement with the volunteers.

Yet, because of the planning oversight, Mandela Day tends to be a rushed affair, leaving little time to build relationships or raise awareness about the NPOs’ work, which is what CSR is all about.

mandela-day-2018

Advice from NPOs

So, we asked NPOs how we can do Mandela Day better and what they wished corporates knew about their needs – 36% of NPOs felt that a little education could go a long way.

Here’s a roundup of their best advice:

‘Include us in the planning’. Meet with your chosen NPO well in advance (weeks, even months before) to discuss their needs and plan the day. Mandela Day can be disruptive, and NPOs, especially those caring for children and the sick and elderly, need time to plan and allocate their own resources.

‘Help us get exposure’. Exposure is massive for NPOs and is often the biggest benefit of Mandela Day because it can attract new donors and support. Yet, often, it’s the corporates that get all the publicity. When charity initiatives are rushed or planned at the last minute, there’s no time to create awareness on social media, which often gets more corporates interested in what they do.

‘Treat us how you would a client or business partner’. Don’t cancel Mandela Day activities at the last minute, show up unannounced or not pitch at all. You’re their guest and they feel a lot of pressure to make Mandela Day a good experience for you, too. This is especially hard for smaller NPOs, so please respect their time and space. And please clean up before you leave.

‘Engage with us’. 58% of NPOs say the company of the volunteers is their favourite part about Mandela Day. Take photos but remember to put the phones away and interact with them. This way, you’ll get a better understanding of what they do and what they need.

This ‘Helper’s High’ goes both ways. One Harvard study found that people who volunteer are 42% happier than those who don’t. Another study found that volunteers were less likely to develop high blood pressure than non-volunteer, reporting greater increases in psychological wellbeing and physical activity.

‘Slow down’. Corporates squeeze a lot into Mandela Day and, while NPOs love every minute, it often feels rushed and overwhelming. NPOs love demonstrating what they do and the difference they make but there’s often no time on the day to demonstrate this. Also, 67 minutes or even one day once a year is not enough to learn about their needs and make a significant impact but it’s a good starting point, as long as you remember to do it.

‘Come back soon’. 45% of NPOs said they never hear from the corporates again after Mandela Day. To get the most out of their CSR initiatives and to make measurable, long-term impact, corporates should form partnerships with their chosen NPOs and provide support throughout the year.

South African organisations spent over R9 billion on corporate social investment in the 2016/17 financial year – a massive increase from the R1.5 billion spent 20 years ago.

For those that haven’t had a chance to properly plan their activities for Mandela Day this year, NPOs reminded us that financial support is often better than a frenzied one-day event that leaves a big mess and has no real impact. One NPO had to hire a contractor after Mandela Day to repaint a wall that well-meaning volunteers had left in a worse state than before.

Before doing anything, consider Mandela Day from the NPO’s perspective: ask for permission, give them what they need, and respect their time and space.

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