Mpumamanzi Laboratory Services (MLS) founder Thusi Motsepe is a classic entrepreneur who spotted a business opportunity where others see a challenge. Thusi, who is a qualified analytical chemist, started MLS in 2000 with the objective of providing water treatment based laboratory services to public and private companies in Mpumalanga. Antony Bowers has been a shareholder of MLS since 2008, and with him joining the company the number of services offered have been broadened. This move led to the reorganisation of the company and the establishment of Mpumamanzi Groups in order to reflect the number of services offered including Environment, Water Engineering, Municipal and Mining Water Management and Water Disinfection. However, the laboratory division remained core of the business.
MLS has used Seda services a number of time in the past decade. In 2010, MLS was selected to be part of Seda’s empowerment programme and a needs assessment was conducted resulting in a R595 000 grant which was used to acquire laboratory equipment.
In 2013, the Mpumamazi Group approached Seda for assistance to secure more funds to acquire a property from BHP Billiton. The group was selected to acquire the state of the art property to be used for laboratory services among other. The facility included a coal and water laboratory.
Seda assisted the company with a comprehensive business plan, and this secured the company a R4, 680 million loan from Standard Bank. The funds were used for the property and new equipment acquisition. In the laboratory industry, it is important the companies use the latest and the most technologically advanced equipment at all times as this always gives advantage on quantities of samples that can be done, and on delivery timelines.
Seda’s intervention also assisted the company to improve its financial position with turnover increasing by more than 70% to R8, 5 million in the year ended September 2013. The company also created 9 new job opportunities to bring the number of employees to 24.