From the cubicle to the boardroom
BASHOESHOE Pele Group Chief Executive Officer, Poppie Madonsela, is a business woman on her way to the top.
In just under two years, Ms Madonsela has masterminded the impressive rise of one of the few locally-owned car rental companies, which she started with very little capital.
Established in late 2015, Bashoeshoe Pele Car Rental was inspired by the desire to see local companies get a share in the provision of fleet services to government which was provided by a company from outside the country.
Bashoeshoe was therefore established to pool together vehicles from Basotho from around the country for the purposes of renting them out to third parties. These include government ministries, public institutions, private companies as well as civil society organisations among others.
The vehicles range from sedans, bakkies, mini buses, sprinters, trucks, motor bikes and heavy plant machinery among others.
“The government engaged Bidvest Car Rental to supply it with a vehicle fleet but when Basotho complained of being sidelined in the procurement, then Finance Minister, Mamphono Khaketla said locals should form fleet companies as it was difficult for government to contract each individual’s car.
“So, I spotted an opportunity and since Dr Khaketla said it was difficult to talk to each individual vehicle owner, I thought I should come up with a business concept that would bring all vehicles together from locals for purposes of supplying them to government or anybody who may need them,” Ms Madonsela said in an interview with Lesotho Times.
“When I started this business I did not even have a single chair or desk for an office. And since I could not afford to hire an office space, I had to improvise and used a cubicle down stairs at Thetsane Office Park to get started.
“People began trickling in to register their cars with us and eventually we were able to afford a small office space and bought basic furniture.”
She said her financial discipline helped set a good foundation for the growth of the business.
“One thing I have observed is that many people do not have financial discipline. I am always fascinated by the way our factory workers are able to do so much more to change their lives with the low salaries they earn.
“They are able to send some money back home, build themselves houses while still having to feed and send their children to school on those meagre salaries.
“So, what more of us who are fortunate enough to earn at least M2, 000 per month? It means we can achieve a lot more with that money if only we can be more prudent in our managing our finances.”
Another way in which she was able to raise the necessary capital was through credit.
“Since I did not have enough money to market the business in order for people to know about it, I approached a local company called Naledi Outdoor Advertising which allowed us credit to advertise on their billboards for several months.
“Naledi put up our advertisements on their billboards which covered many parts of the country. This boosted us very much because many people were able to know about our existence and where to find us. They played a very critical role to where were are today.”
Since the company landed its first job of supplying vehicles for the 2016 Population and Housing Census to the Ministry of Development Planning, they have not looked back.
“At the time we had a pool of 320 cars and all those vehicles for three months,” Ms Madonsela said.
The group currently employs 32 workers, with 10 of these on a one year internship.
“This is all attributable to the hard work the team has put in since we started. There is no substitute for putting in the necessary effort into what you want to achieve.
“So I would say God has answered my prayers towards helping create employment for the youth. And our growth has been so positive that we have also branched into the media space through our subsidiary Bashoeshoe Pele Media or BP Media.”
She added the subsidiary which was launched this year was also doing very well already.
“We have set up a recording studio where we produce radio jingles, advertisements and so on. BP Media is also working hand in hand with the Roman Catholic Church in Lesotho on a project to be revealed soon.”
She said one of the challenges impacting on the development of the private sector in Lesotho was the involvement of procurement officers in tendering for contracts that are meant for the private sector.
“They take away jobs from the private sector while they are already working and that prevents genuine efforts to create employment for others.”
She said she was driven to succeed by the desire to improve lives.
“That passion to help someone go to bed with something to eat is what motivates me to come to work. After all, that is the principle on which this company was founded as its name suggests.”
She said she was also passionate about helping those less fortunate wherever she can. In March 2017, the company distributed food parcels to the elderly in Semonkong. In April 2017 the company also teamed up with the Traffic Department to stage a road safety campaign leading to Easter Holidays.
She said being a businesswoman was not easy as it had to be juggled with the demands of family time.
“As a woman, it is not easy being in business because you have to be connected to a prominent male somewhere in order to be recognised, or sometimes you are expected to give certain favours to be considered for business.”
Although Bashoeshoe Pele has not yet landed the massive contract to supply the government with vehicle needs, Ms Madonsela said they still harboured hopes of working with the government in future.
“If the government will one day wish to engage us, we will not have any problems in fact we are ready to give them many different types of vehicles that we have pooled from locals from all over the country,” she said.