Awardee plans to grow company nationally while providing sustainable solutions

Awardee plans to grow company nationally while providing sustainable solutions
DURBAN -  Portio Dlamini, the founder and managing director Emakheni Cleaning and Industrial Solutions, says she intends to grow her company nationally.
Emakheni  recently become the first beneficiary of the Business Accelerator to receive preferential financing and was awarded R1.5 million to grow their scale and expand the scope of her industrial cleaning operations.
The Impendle born and raised Dlamini, a qualified process engineer with more than 10 years experience, says she plans to use this opportunity to provide sustainable solutions for the treatment of liquid and hazardous waste.  

The Business Accelerator programme came about when three local firms became aware of the significant challenges facing small businesses and took the responsibility to support, transform and develop them. The three chemicals manufacturers, Ferro Coating Resins, Ferro Dispersions and NCS Resins partnered with the Durban Chemicals Cluster (DCC) to develop a to fast-track small business’ success.

Dlamini says she would have never been able to breakthrough into the market without the entrepreneurial support.

The six-year-old business services the industrial and commercial sectors with cleaning and hygiene. “We provide tailor-made solutions to ensure clients take care of their core activities while Emakheni takes care of their non-core ones of hygiene,” saysDlamini.

Dlamini describes her company’s journey as having been intense and challenging as her business almost failed in its first three years.

“There are high barriers to entry as there are a lot of players in the industry doing the same thing. I had to go back to the drawing board on market research and the type of clientele we needed to sell too.”

The engineer says doors began opening for her company in the manufacturing sector. Her understanding of business has also improved because she was at the point where she had to make a decision whether she went back to work or continued with the business.

Dlamini says that she had never been exposed to running a business as she was mainly based in a factory, focusing on engineering and the production side. Taking a step of faith in business without understanding how it operated was a big risk.

“I thought I understood, but when I stepped out I began to realise that it was far from what I understood.”

In 2013 she embarked on programmes that honed her business running skills. There she learnt how to be an entrepreneur and how to run a profitable and sustainable business. 

This helped Dlamini a lot in getting understanding on how as business is operated, how to sell, how to run different functions.

Enterprise Supplier Development(ESD) Programmes, which gave Dlamini an understanding how to run a business, included the Raizcorp ESD Programme founded by Allon Raiz funded by Engen,  the Transnet ESD Programme through the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Sekela ESD Programme by SA Homeloans.

Emakheni  has spent the past 12 months setting up proper business systems that can service the private and public sectors.

Dlamini says: “That positions us so that when we get bigger contracts we will be able to services effectively. It will also ensure we are able to attract investors and funding when we have proper systems in place and sound financials.”

Dlamini says they are also starting to penetrate a new market, which they will be able to service through this funding. She plans to procure equipment to do high pressure cleaning and  provide waste management solutions with liquid and hazardous waste.  

Emakheni has been offering basic cleaning and hygiene, factory cleaning, garden maintenance, but such basic services will now go towards the industrial sector.
Specialised services will be mainly required by factories and industries to have their vessels and tanks cleansed, which required higher safety compliance. 

Part of that specialised cleaning requires waste treatment that will require Dlamini’s chemical engineering expertise. She will work with other companies to bring waste management solutions as there is a high drive towards environmental management.

In the long-term, she wants to empower cleaners beyond the cleaning industry so that they will not remain cleaners for all their lives. Dlamini a later stage plans to run cleaner empowerment initiatives.