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Painting is where his heart is

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Harry Montjane only knew after 17 years into his job that he actually wanted to be an entrepreneur. Montjane is the owner of Kurhula Paint, which supplies the liquid to Builders Warehouse.

“I started the business in June 2006 after being in the paint manufacturing industry since 1989.

“Before that I was involved in the liquor business as an informal trader, while I held a permanent job,” he said.

At his full-time job, he was responsible for supervising a paint plant.

“As I was highly skilled in the job and had experience of turning powder into paint, I decided to take some of the money that I had saved to buy a machine that produced 200 litres of paint a day for R3500.

“I then approached Builders Warehouse and got a contract to supply one of their store with paint for a year. The contract was renewed a year later and I got the opportunity to supply them with more paint,” he said.

Montjane said he was able to buy a machine that produced 1000 litres a day. “After a year they said I should supply four more stores and 12 months later they said I should supply 14 stores.”

Montjane is one of the black entrepreneurs who have been benefiting from retail giant Massmart’s empowerment programme dubbed Supplier Development Fund.

The R240-million fund was established following a ruling by the Competition Tribunal after Massmart-Walmart’s merger to help develop small, black-owned enterprises.

Recently Montjane and 32 other entrepreneurs graduated at the GIBS Enterprise Development Academy that was Supplier Development Programme’s ceremony.

Montjane said he employs four people and he projects that he could hire two more as he plans to grow his business as he supplies 13400 litres a month. He says 60% of the paint is bought by Massmart, while the rest is acquired by small hardware stores in Johannesburg. He wants to start supplying 20000 litres by the end of the year.

He said the course helped him “with the business management skills and to deal with challenges in business, like cash-flow, marketing and financial management”.

Another entrepreneur, Kobela Mokgohloa, the owner of Korema Farm, runs a business that produces cucumbers on land that is two and a half hectares big. He sells 60% of the fruit to Massmart and 40% to fresh produce markets in Johannesburg and Pretoria. “I started farming nine years ago and my farm produces about 26000 cucumbers a year,” he said.

The course beefed up his business skills and he now values his human resources department.

“In the next five years I would like to dominate the greater part of the market and produce 36000 cucumbers,” he said.

The 27-year-old from Winterveldt said the business had its lonely moments as most of his competitors are middle-aged entrepreneurs.

Massmart head of the Supplier Development Programme Sherry-Lee Singh said the course was a business management programme that included HR, tax planning, financial management, accounting, strategy and negotiations.

First published in the Sowetan
By Mpho Sibanyoni
13 March 2015

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