From petrol attendant to filling station owner

Aubrey Ndouvhada went from being a petrol attendant to becoming owner of a Sasol garage in his village in Limpopo.

The 36-year-old father of three from Botlokwa, north of Polokwane, dropped out of the Tshwane University of Technology where he was studying towards a qualification in education because of lack of funds.

"After I passed grade 12, I went to study education but I wasn't passionate about it. I didn't even last three months because I didn't have any funding."

Ndouvhada said he went back home where he started a car wash business outside a hospital. "This is where I met Dr [Mica] Maphoto, who saw potential in me. I told him I want to own a petrol station one day and he gave me R15,000 to buy [a piece of] land."

He said he eventually got a job as a petrol attendant where he worked between 2009 and 2012. "I spoke to the owner and asked him how to go about getting a filling station. He sat me down and explained the entire process to me. After that, every year, I made sure that I achieved one thing on the list to reach my dream," he said.

Ndouvhada said he was rejected by many oil companies when he approached them with his paperwork.

"A lot of them didn't believe in me, they would even think I was instead looking for a job."

Ndouvhada told Sowetan that he called his former employer, who helped him in getting a franchise.

He said he applied for funding from the National Empowerment Fund (NEF) and he was granted a R12m loan which he has to pay back.

Between 2012 and 2016, he had to ensure that he completed all the requirements to get a petrol station. His garage was launched in 2016.

"I just want people to know that there are options for them if they want to own a business, because there is funding in government. That's how I got my business."

Ndouvhada, who employs 32 people, said managing people was his biggest challenge.

"Your employee will call you to tell you that they are sick and meanwhile it is month end. This can make my job difficult."

Ndouvhada said his ultimate dream is to own six filling stations and create a legacy for his children.

"I want to build a legacy but I know that I can't choose their futures for them."

Meanwhile, Maphoto confirmed to Sowetan the R15,000 gift to Ndouvhada, and said it was out of the goodness of his heart.

"I just wanted to plant a seed and I did not expect anything in return. It's something from the heart and I'm glad things have come together for him," said Maphoto.

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