A hairdresser and a dreamer

2013-09-08 06:00

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A hairdresser and a dreamer, with only a few thousand rand in his pocket and the great City of Gold before him.

This is how Tommy Makhatho, owner of the retail group Bibi Cash & Carry in QwaQwa in the Free State began his business career more than 20 years ago.

This week, after being named the overall winner of the Sanlam/Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year competition for 2013, he explained how he had great dreams from the very beginning.

He and his wife, Thandeka, had two employees when they opened their first hairdressing salon.

Today, Makhatho’s seven Bibi Cash & Carry and 32 “express” stores employ 830 people.

The growth in his workforce and his investment in training and development of staff also won him the award for job creator of the year.

Makhatho said he felt honoured to receive the award, which includes a R100 000 prize.

“What is the secret? Many dealers sell Coca-Cola, so why do more people prefer to buy from me? It’s not about what you say or the colour of your skin, but about running a business properly.”

Xolani Meva, national business development manager for Business Partners and one of the judges, said they specifically looked at businesses that are thriving in the current economic climate and have converted challenges into opportunities.

Makhatho was also proud to say that his son, Setjhaba (27), now works as systems manager for Bibi.

“This is after for many years not wanting to be part of the business. He always said: ‘Dad, you say every day how much stress you have. I don’t want that stressful life.’”

Makhatho wants to become one of the biggest players in the fast-moving consumer goods sector in the country.

“If I am spared for another 10 years, I would like to come and tell another story here.”

This is the 25th year that the award is being made. From over 170 entries, 14 finalists and winners in seven categories were named.

Nimo Naidoo, project manager of the competition, said this year more than twice as many entries were received as in 2012.

The combined value of the prizes is R1.34 million.

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