Creating employment and witnessing her employees put a roof over their heads, provide for their families and turn their lot around has been one of the biggest highlights for serial entrepreneur and businesswoman Kgaugelo Mogapi. Not only this but the empowerment of locals where her business is operating has also heightened her passion to pay it forward by giving back to the local community in Mokopane.
Kgaugelo is the founder and Managing Director of Kele Engineering and Construction, a company
that provides a variety of services to the mining sector from engineering, procurement and
The business leader joined forces with her business partner and co founder; Mr Nkosilathi Tshuma,
in 2016 and in 2018 secured their first engineering vehicle aircon maintenance contract with Anglo
Mogalakwena Platinum mine.
The company is currently providing engineering services to clients including Anglo American
Platinum’s Mogalakwena Mine. The contract entails providing resources on site for the maintenance
and repairs of air conditioning equipment on the mine’s heavy mobile equipment. It has also
expanded to Democratic Republic of Congo in Kinshasa.
“The collaboration with local communities has led to our recently established training academy as part of our social corporate investment initiative.
The idea behind the training academy is to assist previously disadvantages locals who are passionate about artisanship; financially constrained and not in a position to pursue their studies going forward.
We are targeting and will be assisting three categories of local citizens; the first category is the locals that have performed extremely well in Maths and Science; the second category is artisans who have completed their studies in artisanship but do not have Red seal certificates and the last group is qualified artisans who are unemployed and are seeking job experience through apprenticeship. The desired outcome is to alleviate and curb the high unrelenting high levels on unemployment in this country. I am paying forward by providing mentorship to young and upcoming entrepreneurs in the engineering and construction space,” she says.
A woman in a man’s world
Yet being a woman is an industry dominated by men has proven to be difficult, add to that having to
navigate the Covid-19 pandemic that placed a lot of restrictions on how companies operated.
“Being a woman led business presents massive competition since this is a male dominated territory,
even so the opportunities are an equal match and women should not despair as clients are looking
for the best value proposition”. She wants to see a reality where there is better access to funding and adjudication to favour cohesive proposals by women to increase their quota in mostly male dominated industries.
Access to opportunities
Like other industries and start-ups access to capital for investment has been a huge challenge and
reduction in available opportunities for their business growth as influenced by the effects of the
pandemic did not ease the trial. Kgaugelo admits that her company was one of the fortunate ones that were not hardest hit by the pandemic. As an essential engineering service provider their running Engineering and maintenance air conditioning vehicle contract remained in force when lock down kicked in.
“Equipment and infrastructure still required to be serviced and repaired, as a result, our employees continued to operate. We however struggled sourcing additional projects critical to sustain our economic viability, hence we had to resort to cost cutting initiatives without compromising the services that we offer and the safety and health of our employees and our working environment”.
Kgaugelo says one of the biggest lessons she has drawn since the inception of her business is
perseverance when the going gets tough and vigilant pursuit of business opportunities.
“The environment often becomes difficult to navigate especially when a pandemic like Covid-19 pulls
the rug under our feet however its key not to be distracted and to remain focused on the vision”.
The future and impact
She says her plans are to expand the Kele Engineering and Construction brand by continuing to
supply state of the art services that meet and exceed client expectations.
“We want to ensure that our brand is classified as the employer of choice in the engineering and
construction space, to secure more business clients and to expand to neighbouring countries and
across the African continent.
She wants to build a company that renders the best value, innovative solutions, high quality services
and competitive pricing to mining clients.
“We intend to be a top-notch business partner who over and above impacts positively in the
communities by enabling growth and self-reliance of the residents through our job creation and
social corporate investment initiatives”.