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Lerato believes when people are empowered, success is inevitable

Aug 22 2018 15:16
Carin Smith

“Generational businesses are built as a result of employing good and sustainable business practices.”

This is the ethos which Lerato Nxumalo lives by. She is the founder of LNL Group, a facilities and vegetation management company.

"As an entrepreneur my intent is to foster growth in our thriving venture. Through our sustainable business approach, we have grown to provide employment for a number of people," she explains.

Lerato shares her journey as an entrepreneur with Fin24:

Tell us a bit about yourself

I started my career in the mining industry as a process engineer prior to obtaining an MBA from the University of Stellenbosch Business School. Before that I completed my undergraduate with a Bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering.

Though the technical qualifications empowered me to enter any market, it was the barriers to entry of vegetation management that enticed me to make a mark in the male dominated industry.

I wanted to make a difference in the sector and appreciated the challenge to rise to the occasion.

I have found that entrepreneurship and leadership are a call to serve others. Over the years, my goals as an entrepreneur, have thus not only been economic, but an opportunity to explore all possibilities to impact lives.

Tell us about your business

LNL Group was established in 2004 and has gone through a major transformation since inception, including a name change.

LNL is an innovative facilities and vegetation management company focused on adding efficiency and value to clients’ businesses. We offer a host of integrated services for commercial, state and residential enterprises - from corporate shopping centres and public-sector buildings to housing association properties. Our team comprises of experienced technical personnel who are specialists in maintaining a business' critical facilities.

Years of experience in South Africa and a national footprint with operations in four provinces enhance our offering. Strong points are continuity, tailor-made solutions and durability of assets.

Our strategy focuses on operational excellence, flexibility and sustainability while adhering to the fundamental principles of integrity and commitment. We establish and nurture relationships with our clients based on transparency and trust. This is central to our value system.

Over the past three years our company has seen significant growth as we entered into a partnership with a strategic joint venture partner to foster growth.

We published our first sustainability report in 2017 in line with our strategy of ensuring that we build our business on sustainable business practices.

How did you become an entrepreneur?

Entrepreneurship has always been a part of my life. I grew up in an entrepreneurial family where I witnessed the many challenges and incredible rewards of entrepreneurship.

However, it was only once I had completed my MBA that I made a decision to pursue entrepreneurship full-time in 2009. I had been looking for an opportunity that would allow me to use all the skills and capabilities that I had acquired in my career and through the programme.

After much consideration, it dawned on me that the best and most fulfilling opportunity would be the one I would create for myself.

What gap did you see in the market?

There was an opportunity in our industry to position the company as socially and environmentally responsible, taking advantage to monopolise the sustainability arm of the trade. There are very few players in this field who consider this option.

Our understanding as an entity is that business is a vehicle to impact and transform the environment in which it operates. Thus, we took active strides to put people in the forefront of our strategy: when people are empowered, success is inevitable.

We built a business that is people centric and socially relevant.

What were the challenges?

Our challenges change based on the season we are in. The environment is cut-throat and is equipped with many barriers to entry.

I have had to challenge myself to be fearless and stay true to my values - to keep my hopes up, against the odds.

What have been your achievements in the business so far?

My greatest achievement is personal, in that, since our business is labour intensive, we continue to create employment opportunities for many South Africans.

I see the fruits of being a part of solving the unemployment issue of South Africa. Our ideas as a company and my approach on leadership supports families across the nation. That for me is purpose.

Another achievement so far has been publishing the sustainability report. This positioned us as an entity to rigorously employ international principles and standards that will ensure that we are sustainable.

This was not an easy task. However, the process positioned us to make great strides in our industry, becoming even more competitive than before - even on a global scale.

Lastly, in 2017 our company was awarded the third prize in the Premier's Entrepreneurship Recognition Award in the established business category. This award meant that the efforts of our team were notable - even to those not a part of the business.

One cannot imagine the confidence boost to all who are a part of our business, such awards present.

What are the plans for the future?

Our business currently operates in four provinces in South Africa. We are looking at expanding our national footprint and also looking at penetrating the West African market.

What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs or potential entrepreneurs?

The best advice to both existing and potential entrepreneurs is to think multi-generational about your businesses and potential ventures.

Ensure that you build your business on sustainability principles. Keep improving your competence and stay relevant. Seize the moment and be fearless.

“Every leader should measure themselves by the impact they made in the lives of others. When people are empowered growth is inevitable,” she concludes.

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