Cedric Hlongwa | Theta Manufacturing
Programme sponsor: Aluminium Beneficiation Initiative (ABI)
“I used to be a painfully shy person, but now I have the confidence to pitch my business”
When working production in a food manufacturing plant, Cedric Hlongwa found the process fascinating. He says, “It was so exciting for me, seeing the way the manufacturing process was done. It made me want to start my own business.” In 2004, he did just that and registered a close corporation Starting in Cedric’s garage, Theta Manufacturing entered the industrial packaging industry.
“It was challenging in the beginning. I didn’t have anyone to take me by the hand on my journey. It was a lot of trial and error and many of the assumptions I made were totally incorrect. It’s been difficult,” he says.
In 2020, Cedric was selected for an ABI-sponsored business-development programme powered by Raizcorp. On the programme, Cedric had access to learning and guiding (mentoring). He says, “One of the things I learned was the skill of selling. I used to be a painfully shy person but now I have the confidence to pitch my business.”
When a few of Cedric’s contracts fell through during the Covid-19 pandemic, his guides helped him cope with the pressure. “I had a safe space to talk about it. They played a huge role in helping me analyse the situation and navigate my way through it,” Cedric says. He adds, “As an entrepreneur, there is no reason to go it alone. There are so many people on your journey that have walked this path and are willing to help you.”
In 2021, Theta Manufacturing moved its operations to a factory in Pinetown. “My garage had such limited capacity. Now I am a formal business and I’m growing. I have signed on two more large clients since I moved,” he says proudly.
In a thank-you message to his sponsors, he says, “I would sincerely like to thank you for this opportunity. It is such a crucial opportunity for entrepreneurs at any stage of their journey. Thank you for having the vision that has allowed me to take the biggest step in my business so far.”