Itumeleng Rapoo | IBR Holdings

Itumeleng Rapoo | IBR Holdings

Programme sponsor: Wood.

“I’m enjoying it. It’s been a very interesting journey for me, and I’m loving it!””

IBR Holdings offers services to the mining industry that include conveyor-belt installation, maintenance and extension, and exploration drilling and consulting. Founder, Itumeleng Rapoo, is a born entrepreneur who recalls selling sweets to schoolmates as a child. In partnership with his wife, Itumeleng originally started IBR Holdings in 2014 as a vegan bakery before moving to processing herbal juices and then transitioning to event management. After these initial experiments, he decided to leverage his background in exploration geology – including a decade of experience with a multinational energy company – to change direction a final time to arrive at the mining-focused services that IBR Holdings offers today.

Prior to joining Wood’s Comprehensive Enterprise Development (CED) programme, some of the key challenges the business faced included scaling, logistics, and access to finance and markets. The programme addressed these in part through its emphasis on pitching. “You start engaging and loving to pitch your business,” says Itumeleng. “When you pitch to a client, they can see the energy and they want a piece of that energy.”

Itumeleng also previously focused largely on the technical aspects of the business, and therefore benefited greatly by having a financial guide to help him engage more deeply with his management accounts, formulate comprehensive budgets and pay more attention to his profit margins.

Itumeleng reports a net revenue of over 10 million for the last financial year, and his target for the current year is more than double that – a far cry from the vegan bakery with a turnover of just R5 000 per month. He adds that IBR Holdings has grown from two employees to over forty and, if all goes well, will be hiring a further forty in the near future. “I’m really excited about this growth,” says Itumeleng. “But it also comes with the challenges of new people coming in, and that’s where you go back and you check some of your notes from the programme.”

IBR Holdings not only survived the challenges of lockdown, it actually experienced a significant growth spurt. Having learned to effectively diversify without diluting his service offering and to look for the opportunity in every crisis, Itumeleng set about finding ways to meet his clients’ new, post-Covid-19 needs, for example, offering additional services to facilitate social distancing when managing events.

Not satisfied with keeping his newfound knowledge to himself, Itumeleng is also writing a book about his experiences and lessons as an entrepreneur which he hopes to self-publish by the end of 2021. He is extremely grateful to Wood for sponsoring him on the programme, saying, “I’m enjoying it. It’s been a very interesting journey for me, and I’m loving it!”