Edward Mathekga | Computer Kortez

Programme sponsor: Micros

My first experience of entrepreneurship was selling sweets to the other kids at school to make lunch money, and I later opened a car wash to clean teachers’ cars. I employed four people to help do the work so they were also able to generate an income and I only stopped running my small businesses to focus on my matric.

In 2000 I did my A+ computer technician training after which I worked at a couple of large firms, eventually landing up at one of the banks. I was inspired to start my own business while working in my last job. I was making a lot of money for my boss, thinking I’d receive a commission, but at the end of the year I was given a bonus of just R1 000.

That was a turning point. I sat down to think about what I was really good at: I was a great computer technician, multilingual, excelled at customer service and was good with people. I went on to register my business, Computer Kortez, in November 2009. I identified a gap for technical services and supplies in the Midrand area and took any and all jobs that came my way. I landed two fairly large contracts quite quickly so I built a storeroom, office and workshop, bought a small car and hired a technician to work for me.

My biggest challenge as a startup was signing new clients so I focused on relationship building and networking. I also increased my service offering and we started to supply corporate clients. At the time, I didn’t have business management experience so handling the company’s finances and business relationships was a learning curve and I later found myself in a tricky situation when a partnership went sour and I lost R100 000, which almost closed the business down.

I completed an ESD programme a couple of years ago, but it was nothing like the Raizcorp Fast Forward programme I started in 2022. I’ve had access to learning and one-on-one guiding sessions that have made a real difference. I’ve learned to read my management accounts better, have gained valuable skills like how to manage staff and have been able to successfully separate my personal and business issues. The learning and guiding I’ve received on the programme have turned my business – and my life – around. I’m a totally different person! When I started, I was a techie and now I’m a business owner.

With the help of my personal development guide, I’ve mastered the art of creating work-life balance. I used to work long hours in my home office but now I leave my work at work (where it belongs!) and I’ve found that working on myself has naturally impacted the business in a positive way. I now know my strengths and weaknesses, and my mindset has shifted from working in the business to working on the business.

Before I started on the programme, we were crawling but now we are walking: our turnover has more than doubled, our net profit is up by more than 180% and we employ six permanent people with plans to hire two more. This year we won an African Excellence award for Most Innovative IT Solutions Provider in Gauteng, have landed a contract with Performanta and are supplying the SABC with IT equipment nationally.

My advice to other entrepreneurs is to never give up because you could be moments away from success when you throw in the towel, and just don’t realise it. And know that starting, running and growing a business isn’t for the faint-hearted – it requires dedication and commitment. It’s far easier to work for someone else and wait for your salary to be paid than to be the one responsible for paying the salaries!

I would like to express my gratitude to Micros for sponsoring Computer Kortez on the Raizcorp programme. It has elevated the business to new heights, we have more credibility due to our association with the institution, and the workshops we’ve attended have helped improve business operations. I hope Micros continues to support entrepreneurs in this way to help uplift the economy.

Thank you, also, to Raizcorp. My financial acumen has improved exponentially and I can identify gaps and problems before they arise, as well as spot opportunities that can be capitalised on. My personal guide has helped shift my mindset to better service my business, my sales and marketing guide has helped me to align my offering, and my strategy guide has helped me set a clear path to leave a lasting legacy. A personal thank you, too, to Allon Raiz for starting this organisation and supporting entrepreneurs like me.