From accountancy to gardening

From accountancy to gardening

MASERU – AT college, Makoae Moremoholo and Atang Molieo studied accounting. But for a living, they are looking at accessories, gardening and farming.
For the two young men, the allure of spending their days in swanky offices doing accounting for large firms played second fiddle to the dirt-filled world of agriculture largely due to the difficulty in getting formal employment.

With jobs difficult to come by, the two chose not to “waste” their time job hunting but to look elsewhere while using their accounting skills to manage their diversified business.
After qualifying from the Centre for Accounting Studies, Moremoholo, 32, and Molieo, 33, briefly worked in formal employment before deciding to establish their own business.

The duo decided to put what they learnt at the Centre for Accounting Studies (CAS) into practice through establishing their own businesses.
They established three small businesses as a start, with the aim to widen up as they accumulated more capital in the long run.
Moremoholo and Molieo seem to have been mindful of the English adage that says “Don’t put your eggs in one basket.”

These two friends’ idea was to supplement the money they were getting from their first business, Meja Car Accessories, which they said was as little as M400.
Their business grew within a period of three months and birthed Meja Farm Production and Meja Garden Boys.

Moremoholo said the high rate of unemployment was the reason why they ventured into the business.
“But most importantly our desire and passion was to own a business and create jobs for others,” he said.
“We saw the opportunity and then grabbed it with both hands.”
Moremoholo said Meja Garden Boys “is doing very well” as most people don’t have the time and strength to clean their yards.
Both Moremoholo and Molieo had done some gardening before trying it out as a business venture.

“Now that we both have skills and experience, our work is easier,” Moremoholo said.
Moremoholo said when growing up, he used to do gardening to earn a few maloti.
His partner, Molieo, was a garden boy in South Africa before he could get another job.

“Desperate times call for desperate measures,” Moremoholo said, adding: “When you are desperate you can do anything that can put bread on your table at the end of the day.”
Molieo said that working together reduces the workload on each of them.
He said that they also use positive words in their conversations to motivate each other and “firing ourselves up”.
He said that so far they have worked only on gardens.

“But we plan to go as far as schools, churches and other organisations,” Molieo said.
“Also to offer full services of landscaping even though it needs additional equipment and skills,” he said. “We will get there, miles begin with just one step,” he added.

He said that the challenge of not having all the required resources sometimes forces them to outsource some of the services.
However, he said that outsourcing is not good as it makes them vulnerable to competition.
“Up to this far Meja Garden Boys is performing very well as we get clients frequently.”
The two have five casual employees.

“We are so proud and confident about being part of the solution to our country’s (unemployment) problems.”
Moremoholo recalled one of the customers after they had cleaned his yard saying, “Bo-ntate I was not expecting to see such gentlemen like you”.
Molieo said that they have also managed to buy some tools for the business.
“It is a big step forward that keeps it moving,” he said.
He said that like the other two, they have plans for it as well.

“In two years, it should have a minimum of ten permanent employees and twenty monthly service contracts,” said Molieo.
He said that they offer monthly services.
“We attend one’s garden once every week,” he said.

However, Molieo said that before they reach an agreement with a client, “we must see the garden first to ascertain how much we must charge”.
He said that as new entrepreneurs they have learnt that business is meant for risk takers and capital should be the least of their worries.
“We need to understand that capital is not only money,” he said.

He said that they increase their personal knowledge by attending business seminars, reading motivational books and associating with other entrepreneurs.
Holders of Certified Accounting Technician (CAT) and General Accounting Certificate (GA), the two began as friends at college before getting into business.

But before becoming business partners, they took different paths as they initially sought formal employment.
Moremoholo worked for the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS) in 2012 before proceeding to the Lesotho Revenue Authority until June 2018 as a temporary employee.

Molieo said that he had been job-hunting for two years after graduating before he was hired by Standard Lesotho Bank. He then approached his friend with the idea of venturing into business in early 2013.
“We agreed to start but as we were preparing to register our business, both of us got jobs in different organisations,” said Molieo.
Moremoholo, a father of three, said it was only in June last year when they again brainstormed on business ideas and they came up with an idea to open an accessories shop as a “starter”.

“As head of my family, I have to provide for them and my siblings as well as they are my responsibility since we are double orphans,” he said.
Molieo said that their vision within their three businesses “is to be a leading wholesale that supplies automotive accessories and parts in Lesotho as well as good landscaping services.”

“Our mission is to provide excellent services to our customers through a supply of a range of quality, affordable goods and services,” he said.
Molieo said that they plan to have established a shop with enough stock for their customers within the next two years.
Moremoholo said raising capital for them was a “very frustrating” process.
He said that they managed to raise M247 for their first order.
“Within three days, all the stuff was bought,” he said.

However, he said among the most challenging aspects of their business are delays in getting products since they import most items.
“Orders take longer than expected to be delivered,” he said.
He further said that physical location is still a challenge and they are still “on mobile”.

“But we are working on it,” said Moremoholo. “We used to say our car is our office, customers who do not use social media miss out because that’s where we market our business most,” he said.
He said that they have received positive feedback from their customers.
“People are responding very well towards our business and they have shown great support,” he said.

He said that they enjoy challenges and competition as they gain more power from them. “All we want is to win,” he said, adding that competition helps them become more innovative.
“Believing in ourselves has kept us going,” he said.

Molieo said that although their business was still growing, they saw other opportunities on providing gardening services and supplying agro products that are in short supply in the country.
“So we also decided to step in with these other two companies and they are promising,” Molieo said.

He said that Farm Productions and Supplies is still at a stage where they are still compiling information to learn more about farming.
“We have managed to secure a field in Maqhaka and we took its soil for testing,” he said. “We are ready to plant,” he said.

’Mapule Motsopa

 

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