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The Story of Three Young and One Wise Engineering Entrepreneur!

The Story of Three Young and One Wise Engineering Entrepreneur!


By: Melanie Botha

On our last day of Global Entrepreneurship Week, I'm humbled to meet a few fascinating entrepreneurs. As we are finishing off the Virtual Academy session, debriefing the topic, I recognise a few very wise seasoned entrepreneurs in the audience. Soaking in the magnetic energy, I decide to sit back and give Lawrence Makembi the opportunity to share his most valuable lessons for which he can show the scars. As he starts to share, the audience engage and it is here where we come across these three awesome young businessmen who are facing the exact same challenge. Their faces light up as they engage with Mr Lawrence who shares with them his humble beginnings.

This is where the penny drops and they recognise the power of networking, and the power of learning from mentors who've walked the path. In the same industry! Engineering entrepreneurs have to pay thousands to get certification, and as a startup, it’s impossible if you do not have a strong source of funds available; they discuss this big challenge with him. He asks: “Do you have a tool and tester in your pocket?” Surprisingly, Raymond opens up his pockets revealing the equipment he is walking around with in order to be ready to take on a job the moment he closes a deal. Mr Lawrence tells a personal story of how he went to Livingstone with only three days' money provisions, and a cleaning machine. Giving up was not part of his vocabulary! He managed to get a deal and ended up staying there, being able to fund his accommodation for weeks and eventually finding an apartment. He says you have to build up a few income streams simultaneously in order to create cash-cows.

The young men have a challenge with funding for engineering registration papers; without this, they cannot conduct business. And then the magic happened... Mr Lawrence offered these young entrepreneurs the opportunity to use his papers and to trade under his legal terms until they have built up enough money to pay for their own papers. What an awesome opportunity taking place right in front of us! They will now submit their business plans to him and look at an agreement. All of this happened because people had a space to interact and had access to people who have been there before. 

I just loved this humbling experience. This is why I am so grateful for the amazing opportunity to work with incredible SMEs!

Saluting Mr Lawrence for his passion to make a difference in other peoples' lives! @ThinkroomTalk and @4Afrika, you certainly managed to create spaces for entrepreneurs to grow this week!

The South African SME Landscape: 2015