Thabo Ntswane is the founder and managing director of Thabo Equipment and Tools Hire. Thabo hails from, Soshanguve but relocated to Polokwane where he held a full-time job as a civil engineer. Thabo’s desire to start his own company was born out of his passion for change and independence.
When he started his enterprise in 2013, he hired out construction tools and equipment to local businesses in Polokwane and neighboring towns. He didn’t have enough money to buy new machinery and instead he bought second hand machinery which he repaired for rental purposes.
Thabo’s driving vision with his business is to make a positive economic impact in his community and beyond. He wanted to empower the people in his community and also grow himself as an entrepreneur. Thabo admits that starting a business was not easy. His biggest challenge was finances and the lack of capital he needed to get his business off the ground.
Thabo’s other biggest challenge was not being able to easily establish himself in the market. “People never believe in a small business so it was hard for me to compete with well established businesses” says Thabo. Despite all the hardships, he never gave up on his dream he was determined to overcome all challenges to make it work.
When Thabo started his entrepreneurship journey, he confesses that he didn’t have enough knowledge about running a business and as a result, he often struggled with basic administration and finances for his business, simply because he didn’t have enough business knowledge. He decided to apply to the SAB Foundation Tholoana Enterprise Programme after reading about it in a local newspaper and was accepted onto the programme in 2016.
“When I was accepted on the programme I was very happy because I knew that this is what my business needed in order to grow and for me to also grow as an entrepreneur”, says Thabo. He explains that after he was part of the SAB Foundation Tholoana Enterprise Programme things really improved for the business. “Being part of the programme enabled me to grow my business and now I also build and install wendy houses”.
Thabo says he is now a confident entrepreneur and explains that the SAB Foundation assisted him with more than just funding. Through the workshops and mentorship that he received from the programme, he was able to develop into a confident entrepreneur, properly handling his finances in a number of areas, from paying tax to registering his employees and also ensuring that he gets a salary each month. Thabo shyly admits that he always thought whatever money came into the business was his income and has since learnt the appropriate way to run a successful business.
From the SAB Foundation, Thabo received R 250 000 which enabled him to buy essential tools for his business including, the machinery he now uses to build the wendy houses. He is very pleased with the growth of his business which has enabled him to employ more staff. Before the programme, Thabo only had two employees but he now has 20 permanent staff members in Polokwane and 15 casual employees in three other regions.
Thabo is very proud of what he has achieved over the past four and a half years. He admits that while his journey was not an easy one he would encourage any entrepreneur to follow their dreams. “When starting a business from scratch, be willing to build up a brand. Forget about the profit and also know what you want and focus only on that” he advises to all entrepreneurs.
Thabo concludes by saying the SAB Foundation played an integral part in the success of his business and with their helped he has managed to triple profits in a short period. His final advice to all young entrepreneurs is to find a mentor who is as passionate about your business as you are and always be open to learning.