Palesa Mofokeng | Pre-Eminence Trading and Projects

When Palesa Mofokeng was accepted on to the Shell LiveWIRE Comprehensive Enterprise Development programme powered by Raizcorp in January 2022, she set three targets: to increase turnover to R500 000 a month, employ additional staff and implement effective business processes. Now, less than two years later, she has achieved all three – and more.

Palesa’s company, Pre-Eminence Trading and Projects, offers plumbing and construction services in and around eMalahleni. While she’s thriving now, Palesa’s early entrepreneurial journey was plagued by challenges, including her peers and clients questioning her right to work in a traditionally male-dominated industry. “My abilities were questioned and I had to work hard to prove that I was capable,” she says. Another big challenge was finance but she always made sure that she paid her employees because, as she says, her team is her biggest asset.

As part of the programme, Palesa has received the benefit of a highly practical entrepreneurial learning curriculum, as well as the guidance of her own team of business mentors or guides who have worked with her on strategy, finance, personal development, sales and marketing.

Her personal development guide has encouraged her to be more self-aware and introspective. Palesa credits her guide with helping her become more confident, something that has played a pivotal role in securing new clients. “There was a time when setting up meetings with potential clients made me nervous. Now I can walk into a room and present my business without breaking a sweat,” she says.

Now in her second year on the programme, Palesa’s financial knowledge has improved considerably. She understands the importance of good financial management and has implemented an accurate management accounting system, saying, “You have to know your numbers. If you don’t, you will be unable to develop strategies and implement plans.”

Palesa believes that the guiding she has received on the programme has made her a better leader and more efficient businessperson. As the business has grown, Palesa has put the right systems and processes in place to ensure she’s building a trusted, sustainable brand. Pre-Eminence Trading and Projects is registered with a number of industry bodies including the Water Institute of South Africa, the Institute of Plumbing South Africa, the Construction Industry Development Board and the South African Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and is in the process of getting an ISO 9001 certification which should help secure more contracts in the future.

While 2022 marked a year of transformation for both Palesa and the business, this year is proving to be equally remarkable. Looking to expand her service offering, she has invested in a truck-mounted jetting and vacuum machine and a high-pressure jetting trailer, and now offers industrial cleaning. “Investing in technology means I’m able to tap into a new market and take on more projects,” she explains. She has also bought her own commercial office premises – paying for it in cash! – and has hired an additional two staff members.

Palesa has a clear message for aspiring female entrepreneurs, saying, “Know that starting your business won’t be an easy ride. You will come across potholes on your journey to entrepreneurship but that’s how you grow and learn.”

She has nothing but praise for Shell LiveWIRE’s faith in her. “I really appreciate Shell for believing in me and taking the risk of investing in my business. Companies like Shell reassure us that our dreams are valid and attainable. I am truly grateful for the opportunity.”