By: Tebogo Mokwena
Albert Mokoena not only creates jobs with his hardware store, but he also empowers people to start their own businesses. So far he has created eight jobs and has empowered more than 15 local drivers to make their own income by delivering his materials. When he started Alie Hardware and Sand Supply in 2018 in Protea Glen in Soweto, he only had one van and two employees. However, because he sells building sand, river sand and cement, his business grew as there was an increased demand for building materials.
Mokoena told Vutivi News a reason for the growth was that more people in Soweto were building backrooms. He said he opted to use independent drivers to help transport the building materials as he wanted to empower them, and this also helped his business grow. He believes that for the township economy to thrive, partnerships are necessary, which he continues to foster. The drivers deliver the material to homes, businesses and other hardware stores.
When he purchases the material to sell, he uses people who have delivery vehicles and can be found outside hardware stores. “A lot of the drivers are men who are old enough to be my father, but who have lost their jobs because of the terrible economic conditions imposed on us,” he said. “So I let them deliver building materials because they need them to support their families.” Mokoena’s employees help with the offloading, operate the machinery used to load the material onto vehicles, and handle the point-of-sale system.
They deliver across Gauteng to areas like Ekurhuleni, Midvaal and the West Rand. Mokoena said that he hired residents from his area and many of them were young. This was because they had to take care of their families and unemployment amongst the youth was the highest in the country. He told Vutivi News that he started at the bottom and worked his way up. When he opened his business, he did not have anything, so he had to sell everything he owned to rent a truck.
Mokoena eventually bought the truck he rented and then bought two four-ton trucks. When the business grew he sold the first truck and bought a bigger truck. His aim now is to grow his team of employees from eight to 20 people. He also wants to focus on gender equality by hiring more women and will soon open another branch.