Eight talented and enthusiastic young women have recently completed or are soon to complete their motor mechanical trade qualification at Kgabo Cars in Soshanguve.
Kgabo Cars’ long-standing National African Association of Automobile Service Providers (NAAASP) informal small enterprise owner, trainer and entrepreneur Isaac Boshomane is driving the process.
Boshomane is passionate about training and creating opportunities and uplifting young people in the townships, has already trained 71 artisans, and 16 of these have been women. He believes women can play an invaluable role in this traditionally male-dominated sector, as witnessed by the growing number of women-owned businesses. He also believes that initiatives that empower women directly and indirectly reduce gender-based violence. Boshamane's vision is to take the eight recently qualified artisans and support them on the next leg of their business journey by providing a two-year incubation business training period.
Boshomane is passionate about training and creating opportunities and uplifting young people in the townships, has already trained 71 artisans, and 16 of these have been women.
“Many of our young talented artisans fail when they qualify as they just cannot find a job or alternatively, don’t know enough about business or don't have the necessary funding to kick-start their own venture. Providing an incubation-type model for artisans is the first step in addressing this challenge,” he says.
He says in Soshanguve the unemployment rate is high, especially for women. “I use my workshop to provide opportunities for the youth and women interested in becoming motor mechanics. Some of these women are the best mechanics I have ever seen.”
The group was recently given start-up tools and equipment by the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller, a provincial agency that provides financial and non-financial support to Gauteng small enterprises. Boshomane says the next step is to register the new business as a co-operative and start trading under the mentorship and guidance of Boshomane and his team.
“We have approached the Tshwane municipality for a suitable workshop space for the co-operative. Until this can be found I have decided to create our own incubation hub.” Boshomane has managed to secure six containers and requires another four. His plan is to align the containers in a square or U shape for training and then roof the entire structure and use the centre as a workshop space. The ladies can then start their servicing and repair business.
Ideally, his dream is to be able to extend the services into a broader fitment centre for wheel alignment and balancing.
“If we can engage further with some industry partners to get this equipment donated or funded, not only will it provide an almost immediate source of revenue for the co-operative but it will complement the artisan training we are already doing at Kgabo Cars.”
Boshamane says in the rural, township and informal communities, a specialised and well-equipped fitment centre is generally the exception rather than the rule. “The profits can be reinvested into reskilling and upskilling and also to acquire tools and equipment to stay abreast of technological advances in vehicles on our roads. This will set them apart in this sector,” says Boshomane.
Boshomane adds they also don’t have this kind of equipment at his own training centre, so to add a workplace component to the training will be excellent. “At present, our trainees have to go to a facility at Rosslyn to get this, which is not ideal.”
The final, critical step is to generate revenue and what better place than the MEC for Gauteng economic development?
“We know they support the growth of SMMEs and if we can only channel some of the repairs and maintenance through these kinds of qualified co-operatives we may have a far more successful model that can be replicated nationally,” he says.
This view is shared by Noni Tshabalala, the transformation director of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation. For the past few years, the RMI has run a successful new venture creation programme for NAAASP members. To date, this has seen 60 informal businesses in the motor sector exposed to mentoring and training with the aim of becoming formal, accredited businesses in three years. The project aims to reach 150 businesses. Boshomane himself has been a learner on the programme and he is a member of the organisation's national executive training committee and represents it as the principal member at the merSETA. He is involved in training, empowering and coaching NAAASP members in the programme.
Tshabalala says, “We support the dream of these young ladies to operate a fully fledged motor repair and maintenance workshop as qualified artisans and complete the formal new venture creation qualification for SMMEs. This echoes the sentiments of all the learners on the RMI formal transformation training programme, funded in collaboration by the merSETA."
“We applaud Boshomane on his vision and his drive to uplift the sector. Creating jobs and closing the skills gap is essential for our economy," explains Tshabalala. "The business owners that run through our programmes are passionate about what they do and want the opportunity and support to enter the formal sector. They need to meet and exceed industry standards on staffing, equipment and tooling in this competitive sector by aligning themselves with reputable providers and suppliers and finding a niche in the industry. We need a collaborative effort from government and industry for funding, tools and artisan sponsorship, and the various industry bodies and committed business owners like Boshomane, to fully realise the potential of the sector.”