Atlegang Asset Management operates in the mining industry by providing services such as Plant Management and Materials Handling. The power couple behind this company is Makame and Carol Monnakgotla.
“I have many years’ experience working in the industry and when I was a Process Plant Manager, someone offered me the opportunity to venture into business,” says Makame about his foray into business ownership. “I grabbed the opportunity with determination, learning as I went along.”
The first business did not do well and Makame decided to go on his own. In 2010, he started Atlegang Asset Management with the aim to focus on the specific needs of the mining industry, playing to his corporate experience and technical knowledge. For Carol, it was her entrepreneurial spirit that drove her out of the corporate world into unchartered waters. “You always have the passion burning inside you to seek an alternative income besides your day job. You constantly have a desire to go on your own and grab the opportunities you see; to manage and stretch yourself. I listened to that desire and left my comfort zone to go into business with my husband.”
Today, they employ five full time staff members and 15 contractors, and find that despite their success, there is still so much potential for growth. “Given that we operate in the mining fraternity, mining equipment is quite expensive and acquiring the necessary infrastructure requires a long term contract to be in place,” says Makame. “More often than not, the large mining houses are more likely to procure from a business that is well resourced, with a longstanding track record. But I have found that confidence in my product, constantly building credibility and trust can change that.” Even with all these challenges, Makame feels that running his own business is worth it. “One of the greatest benefits of being an entrepreneur is the b absolute freedom; freedom to think beyond my wildest imagination and getting the opportunity to convert those dreams into achievable goals”. Carol agrees and adds that the greatest reward is knowing you are “minding your own business” and building a legacy for your family. “It’s having no boundaries to your dream and pushing the envelope to get those dreams realised. The blood, sweat and tears are worth it.”
This will to succeed has also brought with it some important lessons along the way. “Choosing business partners is like choosing best friends. Shared vision, passion, sacrifice and commitment are some of the building blocks of a successful business,” Makame explains. “Without them, the opposite result is always on the horizon.”“They say a ship that alters its course by one degree, changes it destination by 100 miles. Building relationships that work, is key,” says Carol of what she has experienced as the head of a company.
“I have also learned that cash-flow is the backbone of any business. Without it, you will soon be out of business. We try to keep our overhead costs to the minimum and make sure we run with the bare basics, without compromising on our service delivery.”
The two took part in the MEDO Supplier Development Programme, where they were taught the fundamentals of running a successful business and strategies needed to get onto the supplier databases of corporate South Africa. The Programme culminates in a “Big Pitch” event where the entrepreneurs are given the opportunity to pitch their businesses to key supply chain decision makers. Makame’s eyes light up when he explains that “MEDO has helped us to cast our net wider, by providing access to market and the opportunity to build the right partnerships and alliances. My biggest take-home from the programme was how to position ourselves as a brand to build credibility and trust. As Judy always says ‘people do business with people and not a business with a business’”.
“MEDO has given us access to the network of decision makers that we wouldn’t have had on our own,” says Carol. “They have also propelled our brand by giving us platforms to pitch our services to corporates.” They carry on to say that the programme has gone a long way in helping them to achieve their goals, which is more than just building their business. They want to expand by securing more contracts that will enable them to permanently employ more people, thereby developing and assisting their surrounding impoverished communities. And how do these two balance their marriage and their business partnership? “We have been married for nine years. What works is that we are constantly learning and growing together by attending workshops and seminars. We also respect and listen to each other’s ideas,” says Makame.
Carol echoes these sentiments. “Growing together is very important. Respect is one of the core values our company and it applies to our personal lives too. We also allow each other to play to our strengths in the different arenas of our business, constantly reminding on another of the bigger objective, which is to build a legacy for our children.”“While being the bosses means we have flexibility with our time, that comes with the responsibility to be disciplined, to get the work done and deliver what we promised to our clients. At home, we try to have at least three family meals together a week, to catch up with our child and as a couple.” To end off, Makame thanks MEDO for the rare opportunity to be part of this experience. “It is one of the best decisions we’ve made for our business”.
Previous MEDO Programmes:
2013 Supplier Development
2013 Supplier Readiness