How l Pivoted And Prosper Through Covid-19

Mbongiseni Sangweni, Founder and CEO of Silomotion (PTY) Ltd, South Africa

The Covid-19 pandemic has ravaged businesses and the big losers to this virus are entrepreneurs who cannot adapt and this is definitely not Mbongiseni Sangweni, founder and CEO of Silomotion (PTY) Ltd, a company based in Johannesburg, South Africa who is prospering through Covid-19.

Mbongiseni adapted his business as a response to the health crisis.This he did when he pivoted into supply of Personal Protection Equipments at a time his business was closed down because of the lockdown restrictions imposed by South African government.

He anticipated that it will soon be illegal in South Africa to move around without a mask and South Africans will need masks, and that will be a boom for textile entrepreneurs.He figured out how he could position his business to also benefit from this boom for textile entrepreneurs.

He shares his story and strategy with Afripreneur Conference in a telephone conversation from his home country, South Africa.

Early Life And Education of Mbongiseni Sangweni

Mbongiseni Silomotion Sangweni was born in Mbabane in the Kingdom of eSwatini.He attended his Primary & Secondary School in the same town and country. He then moved to Mpumalanga province in a small town called Piet Retief and completed his High School.

Silomotion furthered his education at Wits Technikon, now called University of Johannesburg and studied Mechanical Engineering. After graduation, he worked for a company called, Sanlam and while there, he enrolled for a course in insurance & wealth management.

Journey To Entrepreneurship & The Start of Silomotion (PTY) Ltd

His entrepreneurial journey kicked in when he quit his job and founded Silomotion (PTY) Ltd in 2015.

Silomotion (PTY) Ltd is a media company that offers services such as writing of business plan, market research and feasibility study, marketing, franchising, funding and tax, payroll & administrative services.

They also offer branding services, printing services and graphic design.

The company currently operates in South Africa, Lesotho, Mozambique and Kingdom of eSwatini and has a workforce of 50.


The Effect Of Coronavirus Pandemic

The pandemic crippled Silomotion (PTY) Ltd to its knees as it was closed down because the business is not an essential service provider and was not allowed to operate during the lockdown imposed by the South African government.This affected it’s revenue generation as no money was coming in. As a result, salaries were not paid in full, rental for offices was not paid and the business began to accumulate debts.

How They Pivitod Into Supply Of Personal Protection Equipments (PPEs)

The lockdown introduced a number of regulations and some of these regulations are hand sanitizing and wearing of face masks.

Silomotion (PTY) Ltd has two companies as their clients they do branding services for and luckily for Silomotion, these two companies are into production of hand sanitizers. He approached them and proposed to become their distributor and his proposal was approved.

Again, He approached another entrepreneur who happens to also be his client and this client owns an industrial sewing machine business.This business produces masks so Silomotion asked to become their partner in the production of the face masks and his proposal was accepted, and they started working together.

When companies and individuals noticed him of selling hand sanitizers and face masks, they started making enquiries and placing orders. He began to supply and distribute to these companies and individuals, and in a matter of days, demand out wit supply.

The Demand And Market For Personal Protection Equipments

PPEs demand in South Africa has increased tremendously. All citizens are required to wear face masks when going out in public. Companies, schools, businesses etc are expected to disinfect or sanitize and adhere to all Covid-19 precaution measures.

These safety protocols require supply of PPEs and this is where Silomotion (PTY) Ltd comes in and they have been doing exactly that.The company has seen growth in revenue in the last two months selling PPEs.Their balance sheet which was in red as a result of the lockdown is now strong and healthy.

Silomotin is ready to start exporting PPEs to SADC or neighbouring countries anytime the government of South Africa lifts ban on international boader closure.

Advise To Entrepreneurs

I advise entrepreneurs to learn to think outside the box and adapt to change. Covid-19 is an opportunity for us to restart our businesses as entrepreneurs.

They should focus on the opportunities Covid-19 brings rather than the harvoc it’s bringing.When one door of opportunity closes, another one opens.The problem is that most people focus so much on the closed door in such a way that they even miss new open doors right in front of them.

Train your mind to think outside the box and to take action to maximize opportunities.

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