Khomazi Mgxashe, the Operations Manager at local technology firm, Afrocentric IP, is not about to let anything get in the way of growing the company and turning a promising pipeline into a lineup of successful client testimonials. Khomazi sat down with the ESDP team to tell us about his experience on the Accenture programme, and how he plans to take the business to the next level.
I was raised in Somerset East, a small town in the Karoo, by teachers who pushed me to excel academically, all the way through to a BCom in Accounting at the University of Fort Hare.
I started work as a trainee accountant at an Eastern Cape municipality, then joined Bombela CJV as a cost controller at the Sandton Gautrain site and later Target Global (a US company) as a cost accountant in the mining industry.
That’s when my current partner, Mr. Luvo Gwiliza approached me to join the company he’d started in 2009, Afrocentric IP. He recognised that my strengths in managing operations and looking after human resources, finances, and client accounts, complemented his own technical and business development strengths, and that together we could take the business into a new phase.
Today, the business specialises in Disaster Recovery and Information Security, and we’re now one of the preferred resellers of Microfocus (formerly Novel), servicing largely the public sector. Data governance has become a top priority in government departments, with auditors now looking closely at how safely information is stored.
With our timely offering, we grew from zero to 150 in no time, and had to hire new staff and scale up. But our processes were not up to speed to deliver on the enormous contracts we were winning.
So to help us gear up, I enrolled in a programme in Advanced Financial Management at Wits Business School, to learn how to run a business properly. That’s also when we were introduced to the Accenture programme. We figured it would be a great opportunity to find ways of putting more control on our operations. We needed a human resource department, for example, and we needed to design policies to deal with these emerging aspects of our business: HR, project governance, finance, etc. The training we received at Accenture was valuable for drafting contracts, analysing legal documents, understanding how the BBBEE is structured in the industry, and the tendering process.
Today the company employs 21 people, with most of our revenue coming from Provincial Government in Limpopo and the Free State, but we’re based in Pretoria and intend on being a nationwide entity turning a revenue of at least R50m per annum. We’ve also developed an opportunity in civil construction and the supply and delivery of commodities, which if successful will make Afrocentric IP something of a holding company.
For me success is about having a healthy balance sheet with a strong pipeline and even stronger delivery. The hardest part about running a small business in South Africa today is overcoming the barriers to entry and maintaining the relationships you’ve made, without resorting to some form of corruption.