JOMO Khomo and his wife, Kefilwe, worked abroad for several years and came back with a suitcase full of great ideas.
And now their company, KELE Mining Solutions, is an example of what is possible through real empowerment in South Africa’s mining industry.
Established just two years ago, the company, based in the John Taolo Gaetsewe Municipality in the Northern Cape, has over 3000% revenue increase a year and offers opportunities for other local businesses.
KELE is a 100% black owned and operated company implementing mining solutions through contract mining.
The Khomo’s have never looked back since they partnered with Anglo American’s iron ore business, Kumba Iron Ore, two years ago.
Daily Sun flew to Kathu, where the Khomos run their operation close to some of their clients in the mining industry.
“We saw an opportunity to enter the contract mining space when we got back to South Africa. Our experiences living abroad, and seeing how this was possible in a country like Canada inspired us to do the same here in South Africa,” says Jomo Khomo.
“It was hard in the beginning until we started working with Kumba.
“Kumba was looking for for local businesses to provide services and supply products,” he said.
Through Kumba’s supplier development programme, they learnt how to run business operations, how to market themselves and other business principles.
“We grew from there and managed to secure other opportunities within Kumba and other mining companies.”
Their company grew from two employees to employing over 150 people, many of them from the Northern Cape region.
“We believe we’ve changed the lives of many people here,” he said.
“We’re always looking at opportunities to improve safety and productivity to help South Africa’s mining industry become globally competitive.”
Khomo said that their partnership with Kumba has inspired them to empower smaller businesses as well.
“We give local businesses contracts and help them so they have the skills we need. We provide them with equipment and knowledge so they are able to compete.”
They have also secured opportunities in Rustenburg in the platinum mining sector and are exploring opportunities in Botswana.
He told Daily Suntheir biggest challenge was capital.
“Contract mining requires huge capital for equipment but these days there are many people knocking on our door to offer funds,” he said.
“With that, we know we can pay for the equipment more quickly. I’m happy to say that Kumba has helped with this.”
Their success has been understanding what their customers need.
“We always try to find solutions for what they need and that’s what has kept us going.”
Jomo said their contracts are mostly to move materials and production drilling.
KELE Mining has also given birth to KELE Logistics, which does bulk materials transportation.
“In the next four to five years we want to list on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange,” said Khomo.
When it comes to people, Khomo says they take a special interest in their employees and their families.
“Assets you can replace, but for us the people are the business,” he said.
Jeminah Soakatsie (41) has been with the company since March last year.
“The company was very small but now it has grown. We are like a family here. I think that’s because it is owned by one of our own people.”
The name KELE comes from the first two letters of the name Kefilwe, Jomo Khomo’s wife and business partner, and his other name, Lehlogonolo.
Communications manager at Kumba, Sinah Phochana, told Daily Sun that Kumba has earmarked R1billion specifically for local procurement and supplier development.
“Our focus on supplier development is rooted in lending a hand to grow small and medium businesses in our mining communities. KELE Mining is a shining example of this commitment. It is heartwarming to see the multiplier effect their success has had on the surrounding community and other businesses,” Phochana said
FACTS ABOUT THE PROJECT
- The company, based in the John Taolo Gaetsewe Municipality, Kuruman in the Northern Cape, has over 3000% revenue increase a year and offers opportunities for other local businesses.
- KELE is a 100% black owned and operated company implementing mining solutions through contract mining.
- The key to their success has been understanding what their customers need.
- KELE Mining has also given birth to Kele Logistics, which does bulk materials transportation.
- KELE Mining Solutions is a beneficiary of Kumba Iron Ore’s supplier development programme.