As a woman entrepreneur in South Africa, entering an industry sector which is traditionally the domain of male run companies is never easy, and particularly those in the manufacturing and installation sectors. But Marcia Mofokeng, founder of Alurcia Aluminium and Glass, is proof positive that with a combination of hard work, ambition, sheer determination and great skills, it is possible to achieve anything.
LoA chatted to Marcia in the inspirational surroundings of the Standard Bank Business Incubator in Rosebank, Johannesburg to find out more about the company and its ambitions for the future.
What does your company do?
At Alurcia Aluminium and Glass, we manufacture and install customised aluminium windows and doors to both residential and commercial properties. We are also introducing other new products into our range, including aluminium picture frames which are suitable for promotions, certificate /award framing, and which are easy to open and close. We are also producing aluminium pill containers, suitable for your daily medication intake, which are easy to carry, and travel with you alongside your car and household keys.
"I started the business without any startup capital, without a place to work in, and without the support of other people working with me. In those early days, it was just a mobile business with me as the solopreneur, and I would go out and sell, outsourcing my manufacturing when I obtained clients."
What inspired you to start your company?
A combination of unemployment and a desire to empower my community by starting the business. I was unemployed at the time and when the opportunity to undertake a learnership programme came about, I thought it provided a way of solving a problem at home and the community around me. I realised that many guys in the community are good with their hands but they don’t get the opportunities to use them in a skillful way because they are not qualified. My company, Alurcia Aluminium and Glass, has the power to provide those skills and opportunities to them.
Why should anyone use your service or product?
When you think of Alurcia, think effecient, durable, convenient, quality, and beauty. Our range of fully customised (size, design and colour) aluminium windows and doors is offered by our professional, stylish and qualified team.
"I realised that many guys in the community are good with their hands but they don’t get the opportunities to use them in a skillful way because they are not qualified. My company, Alurcia Aluminium and Glass, has the power to provide those skills and opportunities to them."
Tell us a little about your team
We are a team of 3, with me as the cutter and head of everything, and my two team members who are both assemblers and installers. We have one shared vision - to be the best fabricators in the city and in this regard, quality is important to us.
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
I am definitely not an entrepreneur by nature, nor do I come from an entrepreneurial background, although when I think of it now my mother hated her day job and always tried to do something and sell, so maybe. This journey started for me when I grabbed an opportunity that a friend of mine thought was not for me, although I looked at it and thought well maybe it could offer a new start. Wispeco had a learnership for young women in Limpopo and because there were not enough applications, the opportunity was extended to women located in Johannesburg and I was accepted. On my completion of both the New Venture Creation and Metal Engineering learnerships, I started the business with a partner in 2011. However, he couldn't take the pressure of being an entrepreneur and he left the company. At the time I was left alone in the business thinking hmmm, why am I staying, how am I going do this as a woman? But the key turning point came when I was introduced to the Branson Centre and Alurcia was born - this was now in 2012. I started the business without any startup capital, without a place to work in, and without the support of other people working with me. In those early days, it was just a mobile business with me as the solopreneur, and I would go out and sell, outsourcing my manufacturing when I obtained clients. However, through my experience at the Branson Centre, I was introduced to The Hook Up Dinner and learned a lot in terms of presentation skills through the business pitches they do. As a result, I got spotted by SAB and I entered the SAB Kickstart competition. That was a real breakthrough as I won a grant that helped me to get all the equipment and tools required to operate the business.
"At Alurcia, we have one shared vision - to be the best fabricators in the city and in this regard, quality is important to us."
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
My future plans are to be the aluminium hardware supplier of choice to hardware stores and also to become a supplier of aluminium extruded hardware to local aluminium businesses. I would also like to see Alurcia supplying both corporates and government departments with aluminium frames and to supply the healthcare industry with aluminium pill containers. On a general level, I would also like to see more women doing what I do.
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
It’s the ability to think and do - no questions asked! It is also about being flexible and being able to work at the most crazy times of the day. Ultimately, its about being able to push myself to achieve the best for my dream - my baby. It’s my future, and the legacy I want to leave behind one day.
"My future plans are to be the aluminium hardware supplier of choice to hardware stores and also to become a supplier of aluminium extruded hardware to local aluminium businesses."
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
They did it, I'm doing it, you can do it, you will do it!
One of my favourite quotes is by Sir Richard Branson of The Virgin Group - “ Do good, have fun, and money will come.”
Contact or follow Alurcia Aluminium and Glass
Why LoA loves it….
At LoA, we love those women entrepreneurs who refuse to be beaten by the challenges that confront them and instead find positive ways to make their businesses work. The inspirational Marcia Mofokeng is just that type of entrepreneur. This “Iron Lady” has the ambition and determination to build a successful business that can make a difference, not just to her life and her employees, but also to the community around her. She is a great example of someone who maximises opportunities that present themselves and creates them when they don’t. 2016 looks like being a year full of opportunities for Marcia and her company Alurcia. --- Melanie Hawken, founder and editor-in-chief of Lionesses of Africa