Mafono Mohlala made to sweat for success

Mafono Business Enterprise director Mafono Mohlala
Mafono Business Enterprise director Mafono Mohlala

Growing up in the poverty-stricken village of Matjhirini in Mpumalanga, Mafono Mohlala vowed to never work for anyone in his life and this has come to pass.

Today, the 39-year-old is a director of the budding Mafono Business Enterprise, specialising in garment embroidery, printing and distribution.

The company - registered in 2012 - supplies organisations, schools and individuals with branded T-shirts, shirts, caps, overalls, blazers as well as uniforms.

"I told myself that I will never work for anyone. My dream, from a very young age, was to start a business and to be able to employ people from my own neighbourhood," he said.

"I am glad that, though for now I employ one person, I am getting closer to realising my dream of being an employer."

Mohlala said when he completed his matric at Sovetjheza Secondary School in 2002, he immediately enrolled for a diploma in business management.

As a sweaty person, Mohlala was always in the market looking for a special T-shirt with moisture management, but could not find any.

In 2009 he was referred to a man who ran a garment factory in Midrand, and he was able to produce the special garment for him.

"I was fascinated by what the man could produce and I asked him to teach me. He gladly agreed and that was the beginning of my enterprise. After three months under his tutelage, I started acquiring clients who wanted printed or embroidered garments.

"I would take these to my tutor's factory to print and for embroidery. Soon word spread beyond my village that I was a reliable supplier."

As his business grew, Mohlala was able to save enough to buy a garment printing and embroidery machine.

He rented a garage and shipping container in Midrand from where he produces his wares.

As orders flooded in, Mohlala employed one person to handle the administration part of the business.

Last year, he added the production of branded safety reflector jackets to his production line and supplies these materials to construction companies.

"I am well on my way to opening a branch in Pretoria and Witbank [Emalahleni], which means I will be able to create the much-needed employment for other people and fulfil my dream of being an employer," he said.

"That is what we need in South Africa. We cannot all be looking for jobs. Others have to create jobs."

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