In 2002, an ex-Hulamin truck driver decided to strike out on his own. With only his bakkie, Bongani Khoza founded his transport and logistics business in Pietermaritzburg. Today, BR Khoza Carriers owns 22 trucks, employs 47 people (including Bongani and his wife) and has a customer base that includes Hulamin, Foxtec-Ikhwezi and JoJo Tanks.
“We were badly affected by this Covid,” says Khoza. His Foxtec-Ikhwezi contract, for example, shrunk from between R600 000 and R800 000 a month to barely R90 000, mainly because the Mercedes Benz parts manufactured for export Germany are not leaving South Africa at the moment.
“Our customers themselves are affected to the extent that they couldn’t increase our rates,” says Khoza. “And due to infections among our customers’ employees we stopped and started carrying a few times. Without Sukuma’s help, it was going to be difficult.”
Khoza approached the KwaZulu-Natal branch of Business Partners for assistance, and was guided through the process of applying for a loan from the Sukuma Fund. An amount of R750 000 was approved, payable in four tranches. Repayments only start in 12 months’ time and the loan attracts an exceptionally low interest rate. “This is genuine help we got from Sukuma and we appreciate it a lot,” says Khoza. “Right now we are on short time, but about 80% of employees work when there is work to do. Our people also know that we are being fair to them; we have built a company where we trust each other.”
Khoza and his wife plan to retire in 2024, but BR Khoza Carriers’ future is being secured. “We have already started training my daughter to take over, along with one of our drivers who has done the necessary training and is now our logistics manager,” says Khoza. “These two will run the business in future.”