It’s one thing to run a business. It’s quite another to grow it to a 62-strong fleet that caters to commuters both locally and as far afield as Zimbabwe, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo. That’s exactly what Lucia Netshituni, Director of Netshituni Coaches, has done.
The transport business, however, was never something she envisaged entering when she was younger. “I actually wanted a food chain franchise, or any other form of franchising,” she says. “It’s a very different world from what I’m doing today!”
Netshituni Coaches was established in 1984 by Netshituni’s husband, Andries, in Venda, with the aim of providing transportation to teachers, nurses and scholars. Tragically, in 2013, Andries was killed in a car crash, which also left Netshituni wheelchair-bound for almost a year. Nevertheless, she overcame her grief and injuries and when the business had 45 buses, she decided to take it over fully.
She’s since grown it to 62 vehicles, comprising 50 everyday commuter buses, two double-decker sleep liners and 10 long-distance travel luxury coaches with wifi, air-conditioning and USB charging sockets. “It was a natural progression, as I’d already been running it for 17 years and Andries had taught me everything I know about the business. That was his legacy to me,” she says.
The business’s turnover has grown by 36% since she took over during the 2013 financial reporting period, while profit’s grown by 144% over the same period. For Netshituni, it’s not just about providing basic transportation for the people of Venda, but about empowering the people of Limpopo.
“With most of the youth unemployed and the population in poverty, communities depend on local businesses to provide jobs and improve the economy,” she explains. “Public transportation gives communities access to education, employment and everything people need to be independent.”
Besides being a woman in an a predominantly male industry, she says, the biggest challenge has been negotiating the roads. With so many routes to cover on a daily basis, accidents and breakdowns are inevitable. It’s a risk Netshituni mitigates by investing in top-standard vehicles, which are carefully maintained and regularly serviced.
Beyond shaping Netshituni Coaches into a family business that’s rooted in the Venda community and raising ambitious sons, Netshituni’s a woman of impeccable style.
“As long as I think something looks good on me, I’ll wear it, no matter where it’s from. I dress to make myself happy and comfortable – not anybody else,” she smiles. It’s the same no-nonsense approach she employs as an entrepreneur – which is why her business is looking as impressive as she is!