By: Tebogo Mokwena
Mercy Ngwenya learned the hard way not to use her business’ profit for personal use when her company almost collapsed. It was her financial recklessness that nearly sunk her, and she credits the lessons she learned along the way that shape the way she does business. Ngwenya told Vutivi News that when she started her business, MLM Enterprises, she needed to think out of the box because she was unemployed.
She realised that companies and citizens needed their materials and products delivered, and saw a gap in the market. She started off delivering Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to companies during the early stages of the Covid-19 lockdown period, and her business grew to include other services. The company was initially opened in 2019, but the pandemic compelled her to be fully active in 2020. It now focuses on renovations and building maintenance, supplying and delivering of materials, and solar installation.
Ngwenya said that when the business was new, she got a six-month contract to deliver supplies. The company paid her a deposit which she was supposed to use to purchase the material, but instead went on a spending spree, purchasing personal items like electronics and a cellphone. Her aunt, who was a financial advisor, made her aware of the dangers of the way she was spending the business’ money. “She was also able to inject funds into the business in exchange for shares,” Ngwenya said. “However, the mistake set me back for six months and I struggled to recover before my aunt bought shares.”
She said she learned that it was important to pay herself a salary and cover business costs first such as employees’ salaries and other expenses. “I also learned not to cover your own costs with the business’s money as this will have a negative impact on the operations of the business,” Ngwenya said it was also key to be patient when starting a new enterprise, as well as having integrity, a roadmap, and a vision.
She noted that she was most fulfilled by the customer services she rendered and continued to build solid relationships with her clients. “When I started the business, nobody knew me so I had to be patient and work on introducing myself to the people,” she said. “This resulted in my clientele growing, creating more business and growth for my business. “I would like to see myself owning my own logistics company and owning multiple trucks that I can use to expand my business beyond South Africa’s borders,” Ngwenya also said. Her business operates in Gauteng. She has two full-time employees and one part-time staffer.