Kasi Business | Mashishi's passion lights up the Vaal
Working with electricity runs in the family of the Mashishi household as entrepreneur Lebohang and her husband Matsi own separate electrification businesses.
Since deciding in 2013 to establish her own entity, Liyasibekela Trading and Projects, Mashishi has made great strides for a woman with no maths and science in her matric. She quit her job as safety practitioner at a Sasol oil plant in Sasolburg, northern Free State five years ago after she felt the urge and need to be her own boss.
Liyasibekela Trading and Projects' workshop is at the Matlafatso Incubation Hub in Vanderbjlpark. Most of Mashishi's local government, municipal, residential and private clients are in the Vaal.
"I gained the knowledge of working with electricity on the job. I worked for a construction firm for six years before working at different sites for Sasol wiring and laying cables for two years," says Mashishi.
"I was an assistant, helping with every thing from bulb replacement to wiring buildings. I was hands-on, learning everything on the job."
Born in Bophelong in Vanderbjlpark, Mashishi, 33, a mother of three, did two short courses to gain more knowledge about how to work with high-voltage power.
She says her five- year-old business has been a sub-contractor to the Emfuleni local municipality after receiving her first contract to replace bulbs at all municipal buildings in 2013.
"As a sub-contractor I electrified RDP houses in 2014, the following year I did the newly built Eldorado Hall in Sebokeng and in 2016 I electrified the Sedibeng district municipality taxi rank in Bophelong. I also did the whole street lighting project at the taxi rank."
This year she was part of the SAB Lerumo, an enterprise and supplier development programme targeted at black woman-owned SMEs to help them improve procurement capabilities.
"This year, I am busy with marketing my business, I have enlisted the services of a receptionist-cum-bookeeper at the workshop and I have a new website that is up and running. My firm does any kind of laying of electrical cables from 11kV to 33kV."
Mashishi says she has three full-time, qualified electricians with certificates of compliance under her employ and, depending on the size of the electrification project, she also employs part-time electricians.
She is, however, of the opinion that her husband's electrical company is far bigger than hers and she cannot compete. "He is supporting me every step of the way. He goes all out to assist.
"There are a number of entities doing the same work of electrification like I do but many of my clients return because of the excellent service I provide. I don't believe in doing shoddy work in pursuit of payment. I undertake to leave a legacy wherever I work," she says.
"We depend on word of mouth to spread the word about our business. So, when you leave a client unhappy and complaining, they would not recommend you to any prospective clients.
"This industry is dominated by men and they do not like it when a woman gives them a run for their money."