Simphiwe Nkula dreamed of climbing ladders like the electricians he admired in his youth, and now he is climbing his own ladder of success. His business, Emerald Metering & Utility Management, survived the 2008 global recession, the pre-Covid-19 economic slump, and the hard lockdown thanks to what he describes as an efficient team and prayers.
Nkula told Vutivi News that he was a senior technician installing and reading electricity meters. He was perfectly content with his life until an acquaintance advised him to start a business. Nkula was working on a project for City Power in 2007 when his municipality point-person asked him if he knew how much profit the business he was working for, was making. He was then encouraged to start his own company.
“However, I felt like I was not ready, and he convinced me by pointing out that as a senior technician working for a small business I was essentially managing the whole business, and when I reflected on his statement, I realised it to be true,” Nkula said. He started his business with the money he made from his first project. His company is based in Woodmead, Johannesburg, and has 24 employees. They install smart meters and do readings for municipalities, which forms a chunk of their client base.
The Eastern Cape native told Vutivi News that he was incredibly grateful that he had a team that stood by him. “As soon as I started the company, things went south for the global economy. I remember how many companies in the country were liquidated, and they were liquidated along with my money,” he said. “The companies owed us almost R500,000, and our company was still young, so I had no knowledge of retrieving my money from liquidated companies. Our company survived by prayers and our efficiency.”
According to Nkula, his company prevented incorrect meter readings by using smart meters, which they monitored from a remote location. “Human error has proven to cost companies and municipalities millions, and we have endeavoured to reduce that,” he explained. “One of our first projects, and undoubtedly our biggest achievement, was when we started working with the Winnie Madikizela-Mandela Municipality in the Eastern Cape.
“When we started, they owed Eskom a lot of money, and the first thing we did was to perform a metering audit. Once we did that, their revenue went up by 15%. Today it is the only municipality in the Eastern Cape that does not owe Eskom,” he claimed. Nkula said that in the coming years, he was looking to manufacture his own smart meters. “I would advise people not to be afraid of working for a small business because that is where we gain skills needed to succeed in our careers and businesses.”