Orca Fuel Solutions making strides in SA

Bonita Botha
Bonita Botha
Image: Annelisa Swana

With a vision to increase their footprint in Africa Orca Fuel Solutions is making strides in the mining and fuel industry in SA.

The 100% women-owned company has secured a three-year contract to supply TOTAL SA with tanks

Bonita Botha, 39, General Manger at Orca Fuel Solutions says their business success lies in taking care of the employees.

“Success is about investing in your people and reaping the rewards of that, when they are happy to be here and share their challenges with me that to me is success.”

Please share some background on yourself and how the business started?

I grew up at Malvern Childrens Home in Queensburgh, Durban.

After I matriculated from Werda High School I left the home and rented an outside room.

I started working and studying part-time for a B. Com Accounting  through Unisa.

I got an opportunity to work in the Mining Industry selling chemicals into the Mining and Water Purification Plant.  

I was fortunate to have a mentor within the company, who gave me life skills coaching as well as gaining experience — I was subsequently transferred to Johannesburg.

I was offered a position in the self-funded tank industry.

I gained as much experience as I could while continuing to study part-time.

I studied Chemistry, Drafting, HR Payroll, Crises Counselling, Life Skills and Counselling to children.

 What is your core service?

Manufacturing of fuel storage solutions for Mines in Africa, Construction Sites, Aviation, Fuel Companies.

Our product is a self contained unit also known as ‘self-bunded’ or double walled fuel tank.

Our company also has an engineering department that designs all the engineering equipment and solutions that we need to transfer fuel for generators and equipment on the sites.

What makes your business unique?

It is 100% woman-owned business — 100% managed by woman in a male dominated industry and we do it exceptionally well as a result of our skills and experience acquired over the last 20 years.

We have an in-depth understanding and compassion for our skilled workers and the conditions and challenges that we are currently facing in our country.

We have, as management, taken a personal interest in the lives and development of our staff as well as the education of their children.

In addition we are mentoring and financially supporting numerous students as possible future employees or leaders in our own business and country.

If someone wanted to copy your business model, how would they start?

Business economics is a simple formula that any individual can copy.

Copying our business model would mean that, as a leader, you are going to have to be prepared to sacrifice and uplift others before yourself.

That is the choice and decision that we as a company embrace.

Our people are the core of our business.

What are the biggest inhibitors your business faced before getting off the ground?

Getting funding as a small business is the biggest challenge and placing the right leadership in your corporation.

Tips for budding entrepreneurs?

It has to be about the people and not chasing the money at first. Look after the staff and the staff will look after your clients - that reduces your work substantially.

What are the biggest challenges in your business day-to-day business operations?

Because we serve the Mining Industry and Fuel companies that are dependent on decisions made in government, it is sometimes a challenge to secure contracts.

We are dependent on the Mining and Construction Industry so whatever happens to them indirectly impacts on us.

What is the best advice anyone gave you on success?

Success is going from failure to failure with enthusiasm.

How do you measure or define success in your business?

I feel successful in our business when I have 100% attendance from my staff.

They greet me with a smile every morning.

They happy to be here and share their challenges with me.

They confide in me.

Success is not how much money you have in the bank.

Success is about investing in your people and reaping the rewards of that.

What are the best practices that have made your business successful?

If one does well we all do well. If one goes down we all go down.

Sharing profit in the business.

Sharing challenges in the business and working as a team.

What kind of advertising do you do?

It is a given that we do social media.

Biggest source of advertising are our happy clients in the industry.

What is your company’s vision?

Our vision is empowering woman in SA, educating children and developing skills.

What have some of your highlights been in running your business?

Securing a three-year contract to supply our self-bunded tanks for TOTAL SA.

How important is social media and online presence for your business?

That is the only way today.

How many people do you employ?

20 employees.

Do you have plans for expanding the business?

Yes definitely. We want to increase our footprint in Africa.

How did you acquire funding for the business?

We don’t have funding. We work and reinvest our profits into our business and staff.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt from your business journey so far?

Attitude changes everything, every day.

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