WATCH | Fine-tuning! Kgabo Cars training women, youth how to thrive as car mechanics

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  • Isaac Boshomane, the owner of Kgabo Cars in Soshanguve, Pretoria, started his business to empower women and the youth in car mechanics.
  • He offers a certified three-year training apprenticeship to students from TVET colleges and technical high schools.
  • Boshomane is currently working on registering a business each for eight women he trained.   

Isaac Boshomane, the owner of Kgabo Cars, is passionate about vehicle repairs. But there is one thing that supersedes this – his passion for empowering the youth and women in the male-dominated space of car mechanics. 

Boshomane, who opened his workshop in Shoshanguve in 2001, is currently working on setting up businesses for a group of eight qualified car mechanics, all women he trained. 

"We are training them now how to run a business. They are learning things like admin, compliance, company policies and much more. When I started, I was only a technician and didn't know how to run a business. I learnt on the go. I don't want them to start their businesses the way I started," Boshomane told News24.

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He's registered a business for each woman and intends to also register a co-operative for them to work together as a collective. Over the next 12 months, they are expected to master the NQF level 2 New Venture Creation qualification.

"We are urging the City of Tshwane or whoever can help them to get a workshop, so, for the first time, we can have an all-female workshop with qualified owners. This will show that women can also do it," he said. 

'No one should suffer the way I suffered'

Boshomane knew he wanted to become a mechanic from an early age.  

"I came from the rural areas and chose my career in Grade 8. At home, there was no car. However, I loved cars so much. So, I decided early on that I am going to be a mechanic," he told News24.

However, his journey to success was nothing short of challenging as he navigated the struggles of education and training in the profession. It was these struggles that ignited his passion for youth development.

It was a struggle for me to become a mechanic, and I decided that no one should suffer the way I suffered.

Boshomane has spent two decades focussing his efforts on training and assisting apprentices to become fully qualified, skilled auto technicians. 

When the workshop first started, it offered car services, repairs and maintenance. Since 2004, it has also recruited students from technical and vocational education training colleges and high schools for the work and practical aspect of their studies.

In 2012, Kgabo Cars was approved by the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Sector Education and Training Authority (MerSETA).

"Without training programmes like ours, we will have learners who only have theoretical knowledge and then go on to do something else," he said.

Pupils at smaller workshops like Kgabo Cars gain practical exposure, skills, experience and qualifications to make up for their skills deficit, Boshomane explained.

We need smaller workshops like ours to help cater to learners who cannot get into big companies. We decided we will prove that it can be done from a township or a rural area. It's not easy, but it can be done.

Paying it forward

So far, Kgabo Cars have trained 90 pupils.

Currently, they can only accommodate about 35 pupils per cohort, and Boshomane has called on the private sector to help them with funding. He hopes to expand the workshop to increase the intake of students.

Nare Matlou, an apprentice at Kgabo Cars, will complete his three-year training in October. The 26-year-old told News24 he decided to become a mechanic in Grade 10 – as he was unable to study engineering due to a lack of finances.

But he's learnt far more at Kgabo Cars than he had expected.  

"It has been a great experience being here. Whenever I speak to my friends who got apprenticeships at big companies and discuss vehicles, I can tell that I am a little ahead of them. They don't do what we do here. There they follow orders. Here, we are allowed to diagnose the car and suggest the course of repair," Matlou said. 

He has plans to open a workshop of his own and continue Boshomane's legacy of investing in young people.

"I want to help other TVET graduates so they can get the opportunity I got. It's like a chain reaction. If Kgabo Cars trains five people, and then I train five people, then it means that Kgabo Cars trained ten people," he said. 

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