When Rachel Koma started Cikela Electrical Contractors in 2012, the electrical industry was new to her. She was a Grade 1 contractor in terms of the competency grading system of the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB), and she had a team of five employees.
The first three years were slow, but once Cikela became a Grade 3 contractor in 2015, real growth started. By 2017, Koma had progressed from small jobs for municipalities to big jobs for both local authorities and Eskom.
In the 2017/18 financial year, Koma received R1.5 million in funding from Business Partners to build student accommodation that she could rent out.
“I wanted to have a sustainable source income, one that did not depend on projects,” she explains. Koma was proud of the fact that she had never asked for or received funding for her electrical business. But changed when Covid-19 hit.
Having just been awarded three new projects, Cikela had 20 employees on site, most of them at an electrification project in Mahikeng in North West. “I decided to try and get funding so that I could cope with the salaries.”
Koma contacted the person she dealt with at Business Partners and was advised to apply to the Sukuma Fund. “ The process was easy for me and the communication was so good,” she says. Cikela has already received the first two tranches of its R500 000 loan and R25 000 grant. “Sukuma helped me big time. The interest on the loan is 3% and I only start repaying after 12 months, which is good for me as a small business that is growing fast. I am not struggling to pay my people.”
Currently a CIDB Grade 6-contractor, Koma proudly reports that Eskom has since extended the electrification project in Mahikeng. “Eskom wants quality and they are happy with me.”