When Megan Ngiba was retrenched from her corporate position, she saw it as an opportunity to start her own venture.
She had studied IT and taken up a position at a company in Durban.
The company was soon forced to put her on short time and with financial commitments and the closure of the company looming, she started researching how she could start a training facility that could ultimately be accredited and provide Sector Education and Training (Seta) courses, particularly in the IT sector.
She started Makhophila Training and set up a training facility with a school in KwaMashu, using this as a base for getting Seta to visit the training facility and set the accreditation process in motion.
Her passion for education and experience in the IT industry was a perfect match for her business adventure.
Towards the end of 2009, she obtained accreditation from Seta and a month later, began a learnership programme for 100 candidates.
She acknowledged the initial intake took up all her time and energy – with future planning taking a backseat. As a result, the two years that followed were extremely tough.
“I actually thought of quitting. I was so focused on one project and one accreditation that I had failed to market Makhophila Training or look at expanding the training to other sectors outside of IT,” she said.
She then decided to provide training in Services Seta, which included addressing the huge gap in the market to train call centre agents.
She also saw an opportunity in the agricultural sector – and sought AgriSeta accreditation to train candidates to make better use of grants and even potentially become commercial farmers.
Realising that she had much to learn about running and managing a growing business, she enrolled for an entrepreneurial course and then added business administration and new venture creation to Makhophila Training’s offering.
She realised that there was a lot of potential in her business and seeking to keep up the momentum, she learnt of SA Home Loans Sekela Development Programme, an initiative that supports, mentors and grows small enterprises – and equips them to meet the real challenges of entrepreneurship.
Through skills she acquired while participating the programme, she has actively started marketing Makhophila Training to increase awareness among learners needing career guidance and future training.
She also targets HR managers, making them aware of training opportunities for the employees. “The sessions cover legal compliance, human resources, operational guidance, marketing and finance. This invaluable input and the dedicated mentorship were exactly what I needed to take my business to the next level.”
“It was almost like starting over with a totally new mindset. My approach has taken a 180-degree turn – and the positive results are very evident.”
Makhophila Training has since transformed from a one-woman operation to encompassing a staff complement of 12, with an office and four classrooms in Sangro House in the Durban CBD.
While growing a business and getting additional contracts is hugely gratifying, it is not without its challenges. Managing cash flow is key – and late payments from some departments she works with can be frustrating – and potentially devastating.
By March this year, 164 learners from three rural districts in KwaZulu-Natal had graduated through Makhophila Training.
“To us, training someone is helping mould their future. If we at Makhophila Training can change the direction of just one life, all our efforts and challenges have been worth it,” said Ngiba.