Lerato Moloi: From Retrenchment to Business owner

Following her retrenchment from a chemical manufacturing company four years ago, Lerato Moloi decided to use her expertise to establish her own company, Lee’s Chemicals. “The reason I started this was to survive at first, but when time goes by, I realized that I have passion for the business and it is a business I want to do for a lifetime,” Moloi tells Spot-On.

Moloi worked for two years as a factory assistant and in that little time, she gained enough experience and confidence to get into entrepreneurship when her job ended. Lee’s Chemicals which is solely owned by Moloi, produces cleaning products and the company has seen steady growth over the years, despite challenges. “There is a lot of competition and yes there are many manufacturers around me,” Moloi says. The business is in Alexandra, on No.17-2nd Street Marlboro.

Lee’s Product: Lee’s Chemicals cleaning products

The company was fortunate to not close during the Covid19 pandemic unlike most small businesses. “The sales dropped, there was no longer business. The business could not even pay for its own expenses i.e.(rent) and it became a challenge to recover to our previous position.”

Eskom’s loadshedding has made business operations difficult for Moloi and her staff. “We are struggling a lot, because most of the days we can’t work, because in order to manufacture you need power and we do not and alternative source of power like a generator in place. The sales have dropped again.”

Businesswoman: Lerato Moloi owner of Lee’s Chemicals. Photo supplied

Moloi’s Lee’s Chemicals has received financial assistance from the Government to help grow the business. “Gauteng Enterprise Propeller provided us with marketing materials voucher worth R9000. They also funded us with R15 000 to purchase two detergents mixing drums,” says the businesswoman. Moloi adds that the Small Enterprise development Agency (SEDA) recently funded three of their products with R60 000 for product testing at SABS.

CLEAN: Lee’s Chemicals cleaning products. Photo supplied

Despite this substantial backing, Moloi insists that she still has challenges. “We have limited working premises which is very small for the business to operate from. We also have a challenge in purchasing our raw materials in big quantities, because when you buy in bulk the raw materials costs are low and that is when you are able to see your profits.”

“Transport again is another challenge since the business doesn’t have its own vehicles, it becomes very difficult to do deliveries and to purchase material. Hiring a vehicle become too costly,” Moloi says.

Lee’s Chemicals has two employees,1 part-time and 1 full time. But she sees the business creating more employment in future through trading internationally and having branches across Africa.