SAB Boosts Youth Entrepreneurs Finalist 12| Chumile Transport | Violet Thotoane Lupuwana | #eBizEntrepreneurs
Violet Lupuwana established Chumile Transport Services in 2012, a division of Chumile Holdings, which is a transport business.
The business has a fleet of 30 vehicles ranging in size from 5-seaters sedans up to 65 seaters used for shuttle services, transfers, chauffer services, staff transport contracts and tours. In addition, the company has a 2.5-ton truck for transporting goods and pallets. All the vehicles are roadworthy and fitted with tracking devices.
Clientele varies from universities and schools, community based organisations, construction companies, corporates, manufacturing, automotive, tour operators, hospitality, retail and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), government and the general public.
Chumile Transport Services is a 100% woman-owned business with a national and international footprint. It has offices in Gauteng and the Eastern Cape, as well as satellite offices in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, which is shares with partner organisations.
Violet currently employs 36 people – 16 permanent and 20 part time – and plans to employ up to 46 by the end of 2018. All the drivers have PrDPs licences and the tour guides are qualified to ensure the business offers memorable experiences.
Short term, she would like to achieve a number of things for the business:
- Break through into the corporate tourism by affiliating with the relevant bodies within the industry and becoming an accredited tourist operator – this would help the business to grow its footprint within domestic and international tourism.
- Diversify its staff transport markets to include construction and mining, as well as expand within the hospitality industry.
- Offer transfer and concierge services to hotels and safaris within South Africa.
- Procure 65-seater buses (own rather than outsource).
- Launch an office in Mpumalanga.
Long term, Violet would like to achieve:
- Operate a freight company that would service warehouses, manufacturing, mining, coal suppliers, containerised, agricultural and automotive industries.
- Procure super-link trucks to service the logistics market to meet the demand for carriers between Gauteng and the Eastern Cape.
- Offer plant hire services to the construction clients.
- Develop a new (unique) tourism product for domestic and international clients.
- Operate a destination management company as a division of Chumile Holdings.
As a SAB KickStart Boost finalist, Violet wants to put the knowledge and skills learnt from the programme into developing a world-class and competitive business. With the necessary skills in place, she plans to do business like big businesses do. Violet would like to receive access to market and funding, which would help her grow her business sustainably, as well as guidance and coaching from industry experts.
“I have also made valuable relationships with the other SAB KickStart Boost finalists and I have expanded my national network through my interaction with them.”
- Inspiration: Abigail Khuluse, the director of Tushiyah SME Advisory Services. I admire the way she runs her business – which is built with solid systems and is operational across South Africa. She has strong business development skills, which has resulted in her securing big corporate contracts with repeat business.
- What drives you and motivates you as an entrepreneur? I am driven (no pun intended) by my love for productivity and the satisfaction of knowing that I am adding value to others and the South Africa economy – as person as well as through my business. I am motivated by my vision to dominate the transport industry.
- Advice to fellow entrepreneurs: Entrepreneurship is not an easy route but it is very rewarding. I have my 10-golden rules that may help you:
- Identify a gap in the market and design your product or service in a way that responds to the market demands.
- Continuously develop yourself with knowledge and skills – know and understand your sector, your target market, your competition and the market in which you operate.
- Establish and maintain good customer relationships – because people do business with people (and people they like) and for this reason, you need to network and build genuine relationships with people.
- Collaboration is key – working in silos does not work. You will be required to work alongside other partners, who will benefit your service offering to the client.
- Listen to your clients – because this could mean the difference between you tweaking your product or service, or losing the piece of business.
- On the back of that point, be agile and responsive in business – market and clients’ needs change.
- Be persistent – you may not get the contract first time. Keep trying, over and over again.
- Diversify your target market (but with tailored services) – the bigger the net, the more fish you catch.
- Have a growth plan for yourself and your business.
- Give back to the community (when you can) – it is just good business practice.
- Something from your entrepreneur journey: My entrepreneur journey started before I formally opened up this business in 2012 – in fact, I was a young entrepreneur selling chips and sweets to the other girls in my primary school hostel. After registering my business, I started off as a subcontractor where I gained experience and exposure to the target market, to the point I decided I could do this on my own. In six short years, I have accomplished a fair bit – first landing contracted clients, then international ones who pay in Euros and Dollars, multi-national contracts and government. I am humbled when corporates ask me to be their inspirational speaker at events or when young people or entrepreneurs seek mentoring. I regard myself as the lucky few who do what they love and love what they do (and I get paid to do it).
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