From the onset, Mdladla envisioned becoming a leading female-owned freight forwarding and logistics company in Africa. Today, the company offers a comprehensive supply chain and logistics solution for clients in the steel manufacturing, mining and pharmaceuticals industries. In 2014, she won the People’s Choice Award at the Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship in Kigali, Rwanda.

Overcoming hurdles

“When I started the company, I had a number of strikes against me,” she says. “I was young. I was black and I was financially deprived. When I went looking for funding, companies would want to know how much of my own money I was putting forth as seed capital. I ended up taking a second bond on my house and taking cash from personal investments.”

The company has since grown significantly and has a turnover of more than R5 million, which Mdladla attributes to discipline and good service.

“When we were starting out we would move shipments for very small clients, but we ensured that our service was always of the highest standard. It’s a good habit we developed early on. As time went on, word started going around that there was this logistics firm whose service standards were second to none,” she says.

Mdladla adds that being a female in an industry dominated by men proved to be a major challenge.

“While the men in the industry tended to focus on the bigger picture, I prided myself on scrutinising minute details, which didn’t go unnoticed by clients.”

Lessons learnt  

Mdladla was unable to complete her second year of her BCom studies due to challenges with epilepsy. But after getting the business off the ground, she realised she was relying more on experience and less on business theory and decided to go back to school.

“I felt there were many things that I still needed to learn about business, especially since I was experiencing rapid growth. I didn’t want to find myself hitting the ceiling and running out of ideas,” she says.

She adds the most crucial elements of running a successful logistics company are operations, sales and warehouse – and she has worked to excel in all of them.

“These are personal skills that I have continued to develop and perfect over the years in order to expand my business. Since I know that they are fool-proof skills, I have made it a point that each employee that joins Khaas Logistics is equipped,” Mdladla says.

Looking ahead

The company is growing at a rapid pace and Mdladla is in the process of opening an office in Durban, which has the largest and busiest shipping terminal on the continent.

What are her tips for success?

“Apply yourself. Work as hard and long on your craft as possible. Invariably, positive results will be yielded.”