FRANCISTOWN: Due to the unemployment crisis exacerbated by COVID-19 that the youth faces in this country, 30-year-old Thabo Robert has employed his self-taught skills and knowledge in welding and fabrication to put food on the table.
Trading under Rob Metal Works Pty (Ltd), the business operates in Somerset West popularly known as Bokowe.
When speaking to Business Monitor, Robert said his business deals in welding and fabrication of windows, fodder machine, hammer mill, trailers, to mention but a few.
He said the high level of unemployment in this country motivated him to start his business seven years ago.
The entrepreneur said Rob Metal Works is currently doing well despite the obstacles such as shortage of materials and limited customers.
He indicated that due to the outbreak of COVID-19, business is slow as a lot of people do not have the buying power though things are slowly getting better.
He said he gets most of his materials from the local shops.
Despite having completed his Junior Certificate Examination (JCE), Robert said he turned to his self-taught skills so that he can build up an empire that currently has about 10 employees.
The entrepreneur said his biggest competitor is Matenge Engineering because they offer the same products, but have different styles and pricing, which makes it easier to beat his competition in their own game.
According to Robert, in most cases, customers are difficult to attract but retaining them is even harder.
He said ever since he opened his business in 2013, he has learnt that communication is key to any successful business hence he created a database for his customers where he often updates them about his promotions and new products.
He stated that he also makes sure to take feedback on his products so that he can improve on his product and service sophistication.
Robert said his business was self-financed from the personal savings he had whilst he was still doing menial work.
He urged the youth to nurture their talents and explore them by venturing into businesses of their choice rather than staying at home and expecting a job to land on their laps.
He said it is high time the youth stopped depending on the government for job creation but rather focus on becoming employers.
The go-getter said in future he would expand his business and have direct contracts with big companies both locally and internationally.
He said that most of the youth businesses are collapsing due to financial constraints, lack of material and high utility tariffs and rentals.