From cashier to owner, hard work pays off for Lydia Ramatisa
Lydia Ramatisa has gone from working as a cashier at an Engen garage to being the majority shareholder of one of the finest and top-performing service stations in the North West.
“I did not grow up in an easy life,” she said.
“When I was in grade 11 I had to drop out of school because of a teenage pregnancy. My mother was supporting five children, a husband and my child,” she said.
Ramatisa , 33, said her mother was a cleaner in a hospital and her father had been retrenched from his then manual labour job at a mine.
The young mother found a job at a bakery where she baked biscuits, but in 2005 she was eventually able to land a job as a cashier at the garage that was located next door, and owned by the same man.
“I felt that without education I would never go far, but look at me now,” she said.
Ramatisa now owns 51% of the garage.
She said when she started working as a cashier she was hungry to grow and learn, so she did duties that she was not responsible for.
“I would go the extra mile. I used to clean, pack the shelves and make the place shine. My boss could see that I was a really hard worker,” she said.
It was when she came up with the idea to remove food such as donuts and replace them with magwinya (fat cakes) that she was noticed by the owner.
“I doubled the sales because people in the kasi could relate to that food. The turnover was so high and they were impressed with my ideas,” Ramatisa said.
She said in 2015 she was encouraged by her boss and mentor Dr Abdool Ebrahim to apply for her own franchise through the BEE programme.
“I was afraid to do it because I don’t even have a matric; I was afraid of dealing with the finances and with computers. I was competing against doctors and lawyers who wanted the franchise, I felt very small,” said Ramatisa .
The young entrepreneur impressed the panel with her ideas for re-opening the garage to ensure that it became a success.
Ramatisa was able to secure a R4m loan from her mentor with a repayment plan of over five years to fund her garage.
She said she wants to be a mentor to her 28 staff the way that Ebrahim mentored her.
“A lot of them have lost hope in life. Some of them have degrees and could not find jobs in their field.
“When they hear that I don’t even have a matric, they are so shocked,” she said.
Ramatisa said her success over the past three years had been due to the fact that she is a hands-on owner who has not lost touch with the service side of the business.
“I am so glad that my mom was able to see me open this garage. We never thought that I would be so far in life. It is truly God’s work,” she said.