As early as 2003, Max Lichaba realised that economic wealth in South Africa would only be realised if the gold mined in this country was actually beneficiated here rather than abroad.
He also realised that this provided an outstanding opportunity for BBBEE companies, and hence he registered his company. Although operations only began in 2008, the results soon led to the creation of 20 jobs through its value-added gold products.
The turnover plateaued. The company lacked certain essential processing equipment and had no quality management in place. When Lichaba Creations approached Seda for assistance, the company was on its way to exhibit in India in an effort to improve its situation, but had no strategic marketing material or business documents in place.
Having completed a critical planning exercise (CPE), Seda's Business Advisor immediately recommended the development of a business profile, presentation folders and business cards to assist at the exhibition. Max was then referred to Seda Technology Programme for assistance in obtaining a machinery grant and in implementing quality management systems that would bring the products in line with international requirements.
Strategic business documents were drawn up and submitted to the Seda Technology Programme. A R600, 000 incentive for the purchase of additional specialised equipment was granted as a result;
The quality of finished products was improved through the implementation of a quality management programme and the use of the specialised equipment;
Accreditation for training was granted by the Mining Qualification Authority (MQA);
An additional 53 jobs were created, bringing the total number of employees to 73;
The international market was penetrated, notably through India, China and the United Arab Emirates; and
Turnover increased from R1, 174,643 to R5, 500,000 per annum.
Advice to other SMMEs
"Young people should not say that there is no work out there. Our government, through institutions like the Department of Trade and Industry and Seda, is doing so much to assist young business people. I started my business when I was only 21 years old and through the assistance I have received, I now supply international markets. I say let's go out there and see what we can do. If you have an idea, go to Seda and let them help you draft a business plan," says Max.