|Inga Vanqa (Centre)
What is the secret of your success story?
Vanqa: It’s nothing
more than pure hard work. I put in the hours, probably much more than most of
my competitors and I think that’s what sets me apart. I am involved in an
industry that I am very passionate about and absolutely love what I do. I also
get a lot of support from my family, they believed in me even when times were
tough and I felt like giving up, they continue to be my support system and
pillar of strength.
When did you decide to take the part of ‘entrepreneurship’? Do you remember any
Vanqa: I have always
known that at some point I’d venture out on my own and run my own businesses.
After I completed my studies, I gave myself 10 years to gain as much experience
and skills as possible in Quantity Surveying and Construction Project
Management to enable me to run a successful business in those fields. When I
opened the business in 2013 I had 9 years of both local and international
experience, I had a Masters degree and was professionally registered in two
professions (Quantity Surveying and Construction Project Management) within the
built environment, which is a rare feat. I had laid a strong foundation in
terms of technical skills and felt it was the perfect time to take the leap of
faith. My involvement with SAB Kickstart helped to shape and develop me as an
entrepreneur because of the training and business coaching we received, I’m
really grateful for that opportunity. As part of the prize package for winning
the SAB Kickstart competition I get a further six months of business coaching
and mentorship and I’m really looking forward to that.
Vanqa: My entry into
business was very tough. I started the business from my parents’ house in 2013
and operated from there for the first year. I used my father’s old bakkie to
visit sites and I remember having breakdowns and running out of fuel a few
times in that car but I guess that’s how my story was meant to unfold. I had
landed a few contracts and was relatively busy. The problem was that those
contracts took a very long time to pay and I quickly reached a point where I
had exhausted all my savings that I had put aside as capital to start and run
the business. I persevered through those tough times through the support of family
What are your next plans? Are you planning to expand into other countries in
Africa or elsewhere?
Vanqa: My immediate
plan is to expand the footprint of the business to at least two more provinces
in South Africa, namely Free State, Gauteng and maybe KwaZulu Natal. We are
currently based in Queenstown in the Eastern Cape. Expanding into other African
countries is also very much part of my plans. I am currently in talks with
potential clients from Ethiopia, Botswana and Lesotho.
Did you face any challenge in your entrepreneurship journey?
Vanqa: My first two
years in business were extremely tough. The few clients I managed to get took
forever to pay and I ran into financial problems. I couldn’t afford to employ
staff as I had no money to pay them so I was a jack of all trades in the
business and that was very exhausting. The positive side about that is that I
know everything about my business, from IT, accounting, office administration,
cleaning, being a driver, etc. Even though I now employ people to do those
tasks, I know exactly how things are supposed to be done because I’ve done them
myself before. The tough start I had
also taught me to be very careful with how I manage the business’ finances, I
always make sure that I have enough cash reserves for those rainy days and I
re-invest as much as possible into the business.
What message would you like to convey to budding or aspiring entrepreneurs,
especially from Africa?
Vanqa: I always
advice budding entrepreneurs to look for opportunities where others see crisis.
We are at a point here in South Africa where everyone is despondent about what
the future holds for our country. As young entrepreneurs we need to claim our
space and provide innovative solutions to make our country and our continent
better, no one is going to do it for us. The African continent is full of
opportunities to do business and currently over-seas companies are taking
advantage of those opportunities. As young African entrepreneurs we need to
change that and it starts with education, to gather all the knowledge and skill
you require to run a successful business. Mentorship is also very important,
find suitable people that will be able to guide and support you in your
entrepreneurial journey and that will help to ease the stress and burden of
starting a business.