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Determined to make an impact

Taking on the renewable energy sector with zeal and compassion


It was while working in corporate that Pelaelo Moloi realised she would wait a long time for recognition. The realization that she also had to put in twice or three times the effort that others were putting became a mood killer for her and she decided to blaze her own path. The Pimville, Soweto born businesswoman admits that failure has been part of the journey but self-belief has helped her rise above the challenges. She speaks to our writer Bianca Mashao about her business journey and plans to impact the African continent.


Pelaelo Moloi is determined to make an impact
Entreprnuer: Pelaelo Moloi

Pelaelo Moloi is the founder and managing director of Makgolokwe Projects, a 100% black-owned consulting firm focused on renewable energy solutions, specialized in solar technology and energy storage solutions. Founded in 2015, the company was established with the intention of bridging the gap to decarbonization and electrification. She is also a non-executive director of Blue Ocean, a 100% black-owned underwriting management agency and a director at Deloi, a newly established financial services company aimed at assisting clients with comprehensive financial planning solutions. All these companies were inspired by her constant need to play a pivotal role in changing our communities and giving back where possible.


Makgolokwe Projects, a residential solar systems provider, has successfully implemented over 5000 solar home systems and water heaters in households, residential developments, and camping events. The company emphasizes community engagement and contributes to local economic development by employing young individuals and fostering job creation.

The company has deployed 4336 units of 100W Solar Home Systems in rural areas, 6000 solar water heaters for low-cost housing, and solar streetlights in Botswana and South Africa.

"One of our biggest goals is to establish the company to become one of the leading renewable energy industry players in Africa working with government and private stakeholders to minimize the impact of load shedding.”


Entrepreneur Pelaelo Moloi is determined to make an impact

Entrepreneural inspiration

Her entrepreneurial journey was inspired by her experiences in the corporate world, where she realized that as a young ambitious black woman, one needed to work twice if not three times harder just to be recognized or heard. She realized that one must conform to certain limitations and relationships just to stand out in a very competitive world. She says: “I needed to set my own rules and make a name for myself without waiting for someone else to put me on a pedestal that they believed I deserved.


I admired other black businesswomen such as Dr Precious Moloi Motsepe, I appreciated their “silent success” in business, and I was also fascinated by the idea of being able to live a private but impactful life while nurturing and helping those that look up to us.”

Pelalelo admits that she had many failed business ideas and attempts. But it was in those failures that she learned to dust herself off and start all over again regardless of how difficult it was. “I knew I had to be an example to my daughter, family as well as other aspiring black business owners.” That pressure on its own forced her to get up every morning and try again, it still does to this day, she says.

“That pressure ignited a passion for business with the idea that I would one day be able to impart my knowledge on someone else and provide support to those that find themselves doubting the process.”


Challenges

Pelaelo quotes Norman Vincent Peale who said “empty pockets never held anyone back. Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that”. One of the biggest challenges that Pelaelo faced in business was funding her business. Coming from a disadvantaged background was a mood killer for her on its own. She says having to find strategic financial partners who share a common mission, aligned goals, and mutual integrity was a scramble. She also emphasizes the importance of persistence and resilience in business, as the belief in one’s own venture doesn’t necessarily mean the next person does, making it crucial for entrepreneurs to find financial assistance. Pelaelo believes that overcoming these challenges is a significant challenge for small business owners like herself.


Being a woman in business

“Being a young woman in leadership means the world to me. It means I can give back, I can inspire and learn. I am still so eager to learn from those that have been doing this before me so that I too can share with those that come after me.” She says being in a position to collect and pass on that baton is a blessing and privilege.


For me I see it as a life purpose, because we are meant to co-exist, we are meant to lean on each other to reach greater heights. It’s an opportunity to represent my family and community but more importantly an opportunity takes up space and exist with intention.”

Through Makgolokwe Projects Pelaelo aims to empower more communities. Since its inception, the company has sponsored various projects, such as providing stationery, uniforms, school shoes, and books to Port St John Roman Catholic School, vulnerable learners in Port St John municipality after the early 2023 floods.

They also sponsored the Clarkebury Institution in Ngcobo, a senior secondary school attended by former President Nelson Mandela with 60 tracksuits for members of the choir. In their journey Makgolokwe Projects has also employed and transferred solar installation and maintenance skills to over 50 local community members in Eastern Cape and Limpopo.


Business Highlights

The first project the company landed was in a mining community in Thabazimbi, where people paid R5 daily to charge their cell phones and locked up their doors and gates at 6pm due to high crime rates. The first solar home system was installed, and the community tested it to see how it works.


The first night, beneficiaries were able to charge their phones with bright lights, keeping burglars away.

The community was grateful for the change and the outdoor lighting, which gave them hope for more. The experience of seeing the lights on at night was the most fulfilling, inspiring the team to seek more solutions and compatibility with solar home systems. This inspired them to find compatible appliances and electronics for their solar home systems.


Seeing the joy and appreciation on people’s faces when they first experienced electricity in their shacks and huts has been the highlight of my business since it began.”

Website: www.makgolokwe.com




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Editor's note

American novelist Louisa May Alcott said it best when she said “Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”

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