Building blocks of business
Anele Peti, born in Qumbu in the Eastern Cape, has the typical profile of an entrepreneur. A couple of businesses behind him, a bright, restless mind always sizing up opportunities, and not much interest in academic theory. Nope, he’s a do-er.
Incapeace business owner Anele Peti, “I’ve done a lot of jobs, but I’ve never done modelling.”
The reason we’ve driven to Libode outside Mthatha, dodging goats, taxis and roadworks, is that that Anele secured over R820 000 funding from the Old Mutual Foundation for his block-making business Incapeace. A primary focus of the Foundation is to develop economic empowerment, and one of the ways we do this is to develop black-owned businesses that have high potential for job creation, with funding and ongoing business support.
As soon as we arrive at the site, Georgia and Mark shoot out of the car with their cameras. Manufacturing sites offer great material for their visuals because they’re full of noise, reversing trucks and heavy machinery. Anele stomps over to meet us, wearing his safety boots and neon-orange safety jacket with reflective strips. I see immediately he is not an office man.
Within moments he’s telling me his story, almost stumbling over his sentences because there’s too much to say. How he used to work at the nearby quarry in 2013, noticed the shortage of quality blocks, spotted a business opportunity. He then established market outlets with five local Build-It stores who committed to taking his product. Secured a production site in partnership with the local quarry owners as part of their social labour development plan (SLDP) to generate employment. Cleared land permissions with the Department Minerals and Resources, and secured grant funding with the Old Mutual Foundation and loan funding with Masisizane Fund, “who gave me preferential rates over five years.”
“I did competitor price checks by putting on a nice jacket and tie and R1000 in my pocket. Then I’d pretend to go and buy units, would negotiate them down to their lowest price, until the security guys at the door got to recognise me,” he shows me a wily grin.
“Although I’ve got plenty experience in running businesses, I don’t have experience in block production, and one of the first things I did was headhunt a production manager. So there I was standing stalking the corners of block-yards waiting for the guys to come out, until I found my man.” He points to Marius who is overseeing the block production. “These are M6 concrete blocks, SABS approved (manufactured to a minimum strength of 4MPA I learn), they’re made of dolorite, cement, water and chemical.” He picks one up and promptly drops it on the ground to show me how to check it’s breaking quality. I turn around and Anele has gone off to talk with Marius, heads close together, they have their tape measures out sizing up blocks from a nearby pile.
Later, I try and pin him down for the rest of the story. “I now employ 18 people, there’re 15 on site and 3 admin on site at the quarry,” he says. “I’m going to take up to 26, we’re busy training up more staff and as soon as they start, we can push up production from 6000 blocks daily to 10 000, then full capacity at 12 000. We started delivering two weeks ago and have already had feedback that customers want my blocks because they’re better quality.” He scans the site restlessly, spots a loaded truck waiting for it’s delivery note, “Transportation is as important as production, it’s no good making blocks if you can’t get them to your customers,” he shoots over his shoulder at me as he moves off to sort things out.
And we’re off!
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