Getting a foothold on the ladder to business success can take little more than a smartphone and the right attitude, as a growing ecosystem of auto spares resellers is proving.
With Jonathan Ngwenya’s chain of auto salvage yards at its hub, a network of panelbeaters, mechanics and middlemen is thriving across Johannesburg’s East Rand. Some of the entrepreneurs in this ecosystem are youths armed with little more than a smartphone.
One enterprising reseller was able to resell used spares so successfully that he earned in the region of R16,000 a month for up to a year after his retrenchment, so managing to pay his debts and keep his home, explains Ngwenya’s wife, Sandy.
At the heart of this system is Choc’s Auto Salvage Centre, which opened its first salvage yard in Vosloorus in 2009. The business bought written-off vehicles for scrap, and stripped them down to resell genuine used auto spares. With genuine parts priced out of the range of many, the salvage yard thrived and expanded to Spruitview and Brakpan; and was named the Gauteng Department of Economic Development’s Township Entrepreneur Awards 2016 winner in the Transport, Automotive and Components category.
The company’s flexible and innovative approach to business partnerships has seen it tapping in to an extended distribution network via a WhatsApp group, website and digital newsletters, whereby it advertises what vehicles it has available, and any enterprising reseller with a market can mark up and sell on the available spares. “We have up to 3,000 small businesses buying spares from us; some of them actively looking for end customers,” says Sandy Ngwenya. “We even have informal recyclers coming to pick up small scraps and plastic for recycling.”
The Choc’s success story underlines the view of leading business experts that entrepreneurial success is more about mindset and motivation than significant investment and a formalised business plan. “Some of the small resellers don’t even have a salvage yard or a business premises,” says Sandy Ngwenya. “They just move about buying and selling, using their phones to link up to opportunities.”
Choc’s Auto Salvage Centre is set to participate in the upcoming #BuyaBusiness Expo and the Small Business Expo at the Ticketpro Dome in Northriding, Johannesburg, where the Ngwenyas will be on hand to discuss partnering opportunities for entrepreneurial resellers.